It doesn’t matter what you do during your waking hours: work at home or away from home; travel by car, train, or walking from your bedroom to your living room; or spend their days looking at children or looking for work; you’re probably spending at least some of that time listening to music. But where do you find that music? And if you already have a site that you visit regularly, would you like to try something new?
There are a plethora of music streaming services now available to anyone who wants to listen and experiment. Some offer free and paid subscription versions. Others are completely free.
We asked the staff of The edge to tell us about your favorite music streaming services. Some listen to mainstream media like Apple Music, Spotify, or YouTube Music, while others have discovered lesser-known but interesting places.
This is what they recommend.
For whatever reason, my partner and I have become addicted to popular music from the early 20th century, mainly from the 1920s and 1930s. In recent years, we have happily become familiar with the sounds of Cliff Edwards, Bessie Smith, Ruth Etting, Annette Hanshaw, Paul Whiteman, Cab Calloway, and Ethel Waters. (Here he is, in one of his sadly few movie appearances, singing “Birmingham Bertha”). So we spend a lot of time listening to Radio Dismuke, a little-known streaming service sponsored by Early 1900s Music Preservation, which has provided us with a steady diet of pop and jazz since the turn of the last century. —Barbara Krasnoff
Soma fm began life as a micro-energy radio station in San Francisco in 1999, but went online in 2000. Since then, it has been one of my favorite audio sources. The site has tons of stations of different genres. As I work I bounce between Groove Salad (ambient / downtempo), Secret Agent (I think classic Bond meets modern sensibilities), and Drone Zone (very laid back). In the early 2000s, Indie Pop Rocks was my secret weapon for finding new bands that my friends didn’t know about yet. When the holidays roll in, Soma’s holiday resorts will make your party twice as festive and half as cheesy. There are apps for it on all platforms, but if you’re using TuneIn for terrestrial radio, Soma’s stations are listed there as well. Everything is free, but if you use it a lot, find a way to contribute a little; After more than 20 years of broadcasting, Soma deserves it. —Dieter Bohn
Most of my time on YouTube is not spent watching videos; is listening to music. YouTube Music is everything I wanted from Google Play Music, plus something. Its music catalog is unmatched, mainly thanks to users uploading music that would not otherwise be available on streaming services. It has recent hits and full albums if you want to use it like Spotify for example, but it’s my go-to for listening to loads of old music or dark tunes, live performances, and video game soundtrack compilations. (For some reason, I know the Ghost trick the original soundtrack from memory, but I haven’t played much of the game). I’m always a little concerned that my favorite playlist or hard-to-find album upload will get removed from the list, but maybe it’s that rush that keeps me listening to it more often than any other music streaming service on these. days. –Cameron faulkner
I confess I don’t listen to 8tracks regularly these days, but using it is a predictable way to unleash an explosion of nostalgia. The streaming service was launched in 2008 and allows users to upload playlists of at least eight songs (also known as 8 tracks). You can search the playlists by their tags (which can include artists, genre, or “mood”), but you can’t preview the song list in advance. They are revealed as you listen. You also only get three skips per playlist per hour. Forced discovery helped me find songs and artists that I had never heard of. 8tracks closed in December 2019, but a new startup called BackBeat came back to life last April. All the playlists I made in high school are still intact, but they are very embarrassing, so I will keep that username a secret. —Nicole Wetsman
KEXP, a Seattle-based public radio station, is my favorite radio station in the world. He mainly plays alternative rock and indie, but there are also weekly blocks with completely different genres like blues, Latin music, songs entirely by artists from the Pacific Northwest, and my wife and I especially enjoy reggae on Saturday mornings. We regularly broadcast the station to our kitchen speaker while having dinner or doing housework. The music selection is excellent, and it’s also a regular reminder of the city where we met and fell in love. –Jay peters
What The Verge ‘As a resident Post Malone fan, I recently discovered Aux Live when a recording of their performance was presented at PostyFest in 2019. My first intention was to keep the subscription just long enough to see that concert, but I ended up enjoying the service very much. Aux Live is a music-focused service with a variety of live concerts and documentaries in a wide range of genres and legendary artists. It works both in the browser and through the application. It costs $ 4.99 a month, but it feels reasonable given the sheer number of artists featured on the service. —Kaitlin Hatton
After buying a portable DAC to listen to higher resolution music on my phone, I was looking for a place where I could actually hear to higher resolution music. I found Qobuz, which allows you to stream songs with a sample rate of up to 192 kHz and a depth of 24 bits. You can also purchase high-resolution songs or albums and download them from the Qobuz store without having to subscribe to the service. Reviewing some of my favorite albums that I listened to during my iPod days gave me a new appreciation for those recordings, and I ended up paying more attention to how they were mixed and mastered. —Andru Marino
Okay, I’ll be the boring staff member Spotify recommends. Yes, other streaming services may offer better audio quality or curation, but Spotify has a good user interface and compatibility with almost every piece of streaming hardware on the market, and that’s really all my musical tastes require. basic. And soon, with the launch of Spotify HiFi later this year, audio quality will get a big boost. It helps that I’ve been using Spotify for almost a decade right now, so you have almost unlimited data on me to create custom playlists tailored to my tastes. Their daily mixes are far from perfect, but they’re good enough to use regularly when I can’t be bothered to pick a specific band to listen to. —Jon Porter
I use Apple Music for a very specific reason: because it allows me to listen to music that is not on Apple Music. Let me explain. A solid 10-15 percent of the music I listen to is not on Spotify or any streaming service. Whether it’s something I did or one of my friends did, a copy of a forgotten song posted on YouTube or SoundCloud, an album that’s too copyright infringing to be allowed on streaming services, or just music that’s on Bandcamp but not streaming services, I still want to have a good way to sync all the music I like across all devices, and Apple Music does a great job with that. I just drag something into the app formerly known as iTunes, and within moments it shows up on my iPhone, syncs to my iPod, and can even be played through my HomePods. I would write more about how much I love this aspect of Apple Music, but honestly, I’m starting to sound like an annoying hipster, even to myself. —Mitchell Clark
Did you know that you can listen to over 200,000 concerts in lossless audio quality for free? And I really mean free. The Live Music Archive, which is part of the Internet Archive, houses a huge vault of live performances from a wide range of artists who have given their blessing to exchange concerts among fans. Yes, there is a ton of material from the Grateful Dead and jam bands, but the LMA also contains hundreds of recordings from acts like Drive-By Truckers, John Mayer, Elliott Smith, Smashing Pumpkins, and more. Every now and then, I start digging through the archive and land on a gem I haven’t heard of before. Most are audience-recorded shows, as commercial releases (understandably) are not allowed.
Now, the Internet Archive is not exactly known for its intuitive navigation, and the Live Music Archive site can be very complicated to use. Fortunately, there are apps like this one for iPhone or this one for Android that serve as easier-to-navigate portals for everything within the Live Music Archive, with features like offline downloads. –Chris Welch