No one needs to be reminded that in a failing economy the first items cut from the budget are entertainment related. But let’s face it: life’s not worth living unless there’s a little bit of entertainment in your life. That’s not to say you have to pay for it, though. Some of the best things in life are free. One of these is free online radio stations. Depending on the site, you can stream music on your computer from just about any artists.
There’s many full-length, good-quality tracks on these sites, where you can not only choose to listen to individual artists’ music, but also playlists created by you and others from a variety of bands. Some will even let you skip as many songs as you like within the hour. Here’s my top five favorites:
Internet Radio #5: Slacker.com
Slacker.com works a lot like Pandora in that you can listen to just about all the popular artists nonstop. However, they’re pretty ad-clad, always prompting you to sign up for their premium subscription radio stations. Otherwise, they let you listen to just about anything you want to.
The Drawback: Limited number of skips per hour. I believe their hourly quote is even less than Pandora.
Internet Radio #4: Blip.fm
On Blip.fm, it’s easy to listen to individual songs. You can sign up as your own DJ and search for your favorite music. “Blip” songs one at a time or create a custom playlist. The unique thing about Blip is that you can share the blip with others on social networks like Twitter.
The Drawbacks: Blip.fm isn’t necessarily a conventional Internet radio. It takes a little more supervision than just a “press play” station.
Internet Radio #3: Pandora.com
On Pandora, you can create a radio station of your favorite artist. For example, if you type in “Linkin Park”, you’ll not only hear some of the most popular songs from Linkin Park, but also Three Days Grace, Evanescence, Breaking Benjamin, Switchfoot, and Three Doors Down, just to name a few. It will keep a cookie of your radio station, too, so you can access the station on a different day.
The Drawbacks: You can only skip so many songs an hour. The actual number seems to vary, but I don’t think you can skip more than ten per hour on any given station.
Internet Radio #2: Last.fm
Last.fm is one of my absolute favorite stations because of the depth of their library. There are quite a few prominent artists with many full, popular tracks available to listen to, such as Beyonce, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Three Days Grace, and many more. If you do not create an account, you can listen to the songs free up to three times in the song box. If you create an account, however, it almost unlimited. Any station you listen, whether you have a free account or not, allows you unlimited skips on any songs you don’t like. The related artists on each station are pretty close to the genre of the one you type in, so they do come up with some pretty good matches, too.
The Drawback: Some of your favorite songs aren’t available, or there’s only 30-second clips.
Internet Radio #1: Jango.com
The Drawback: After every few songs, they’ll want to sign up for a free account. Not a big deal; you can either click the “x” button (your music still plays at the same time regardless), or you can sign up and never get prompted again.
As another option, Rhapsody lets you sign up for a free 14-day trial of unlimited music. The only drawback is you’ll need a credit card to sign up, whereas you don’t for the previous few, but you can get a taste for more unlimited music than just about anywhere else online. After that it’s less than the cost of one CD per month, and you can listen to whatever you want, whenever you want.
If you’re still feeling a little cheap-skate-ish, though, stick with the five free ones I listed above, and you’ll still have plenty of free music to listen to.