IT Employment

Comparison: The 8 best music streaming services to use at work

In case you left your portable radio in 1998, here are some more modern options for picking the music to pass your workday.

spotifystreaming.png
 Image: Spotify

Whistling while you work can get pretty old. Also, your co-workers might hate you.

The better option that many workers are using to inject music into the workday is a music streaming service, whether they're trying to help to drown out noise, stay focused, or even just combat boredom during work. Though, not all services are created equal. With companies cracking down on the strain that music streaming can put on bandwidth (or attention span), you might need to know the full breadth of your options. Here are some of the top services and what they offer in terms of features, pricing, and online/offline access.

1. Spotify

Spotify has two tiers, free and premium. With the free version, you can stream music to your mobile, tablet, or desktop, as long as you don't mind the ads too much. (But beware, if you're listening without headphones, there's no guarantee you won't run into an ad for Trojans or UTI medication.) For $9.99 a month, you get all the same access, except with high quality audio offline, and an ad-free, awkwardness-free experience. Spotify's offline capabilities could be a good thing for workers whose companies block music services, or have a policy against using them.

2. Pandora

Internet radio provider Pandora, also has free and paid versions. For free, Pandora can be accessed through mobile, tablet, and desktop in exchange for dealing with ads. PandoraOne usually costs $4.99 and offers no ads, better audio quality, and a desktop app that does not require a browser. Pandora's lack of offline access could pose a problem as it's a favorite target of companies that ban streaming services. If you're the subversive type, you might be able to get away with one of the other services on this list.

3. iTunes Radio

iTunes Radio works with any Apple device and has similar capabilities to other streaming services in terms of building stations based on musical preferences and tweaking them with likes/stars. If you use iTunes Match, a service that stores all you music in the iCloud for $24.99 a year, iTunes Radio is ad-free. If you want offline access, you can use iTunes the old fashioned way.

googleplaystreaming.png
 Image: GooglePlay

4. GooglePlay

GooglePlay offers two tiers, Standard and All Access. Both can host up to 20,000 songs (which sounds like a lot until you compare it to Amazon's 250,000), accessible from any device, including Android, iPhone and iPad. The Google Play Music app lets you pick songs and playlists to download and listen to when you're offline. For $9.99 a month, GooglePlay offers unlimited skips on the customizable radio feature, unlimited access to millions of songs and albums, and recommendations. It works something like a hybrid between a music locker and a streaming service where you can upload your existing music collection, but also stream (or even download offline) songs you don't own.

5. Last.fm

Creating a Last.fm profile is free. You can listen through the browser, or a media player, which requires Last.fm's Scrobbler software. Apps for iPhone and iPod are available. A subscription to Last.fm costs $3 a month (via PayPal) and means you don't have to deal with banner ads on the website or mobile app. You also get to see who has been looking at your page, as well as what Last.fm is working on in their labs. (Disclosure: Last.fm and TechRepublic are both part of CBS Interactive.)

6. Beats Music

Beats Music is the newcomer on this front. Unlike many other services, Beats Music has no free tier. It also lacks a desktop version. For $9.99 a month (for one person on up to 3 devices), the service offers access to more than 20 million songs, no ads, and playlist recommendations tailored to the user-- one of Beats' biggest talking points has been its expert curators. An update now includes in-app offline playback options.

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 Image: Amazon

7. Amazon Cloud Player

Amazon Cloud Player is also a music locker. You can keep your music in your Cloud and access it from any device, any time, including Roku, Sonos, or Samsung Smart TV. The first 250 song you upload are free. Also, if you download music (MP3s or physical albums using AutoRip) from Amazon, that music does not count toward your space allotment. To store up to 250,000 high quality songs, the cost is $24.99 a year.

8. GrooveShark

The free ad-supported version of GrooveShark is available on the web and mobile browsers. For $9 a month, you can ditch the ads and get access to unlimited streaming, as well as apps for Apple, Android, and desktop. Other features include PowerHouse mode, video mode, and a visualizer. GrooveShark doesn't offer an offline mode.

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About

Erin Carson is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers the impact of social media in business and the ways technology is transforming the future of work.

28 comments
edinlouis
edinlouis

Spotify is the top one for me, but the problem is it is not available in some countries. I always travel for business, so I find some alternative music services: http://www.apowersoft.com/spotify-alternative.html. I think Lastfm provides great listening experience after its upgrade, thumb up for it.

bluedog20175
bluedog20175

I'm a big fan of Slacker Radio.  Plenty of stations.  Free to listen with a few ads or there is a pay service with more features.  Great diversity of stations.

thomas.wilson
thomas.wilson

Rhapsody is my choice, unlimited streaming from a vast catalog of songs for a flat fee.  Has an offline mode as well so if you're in an office with bandwidth rules you can download your albums or playlist to your portable device at home and play at work or when travelling.

Jon Slyde
Jon Slyde

Still not sure why Pandora is so popular, not a fan. And how is TuneIn NOT on this list

maj37
maj37

Erin are you nuts "music mtreaming services at work"!!!!!!!!!  Like rblackman says bring out the 1998 portable radio, or forget radio and pop a CD in the the seldom used CD/DVD drive on your computer but steam music "AT WORK".  Perhaps your real goal is to get people fired so you won't have to write your columns anymore. 

If you have a personal not company cell phone that does not connect to the company Wi-Fi and you have a good data plan then stream it through your phone and enjoy but other than that don't at least not a most companies.

rblackman
rblackman

Speaking as an IT Manager, this is bad, very bad. It is part of our Firm's policy that streaming internet content for non-business purposes is forbidden. Our Internet bandwidth is used the max, if staff were using it in this frivolous fashion it would severely impact our remote office users to do their work. So, dig out that "1998" portable radio and use that if you want to listen to music during work hours.

simonschilder
simonschilder

TuneIn anyone?

Apart from the fact that all these services eat bandwith.

And more important, if in the Netherlands a company employee uses any kind of broadcast receiver, the company needs to pay a fee to the authorities. (something about rights etc.)

Wise56
Wise56

What about Slacker?  Been using them for years; wider playlist than Pandora.

alan.ruiz
alan.ruiz

You're missing rdio.

It has been for awhile and mobile app works terrific. For desktop you could use a browser and/or desktop app.

tvmuzik
tvmuzik

I don't bother with ANY pay-for-play internet muzak streaming stuff.  I use a browser plugin to download whatever I want and permanently store it offline in my computer as an mp3 file... after I've gathered the mp3s I want, I move them to a micro SD drive and insert the drive into my old Blackberry 9800 Torch... take it to work... plug the headphone jack from my Blackberry to my CD stereo system in my workplace, and BOOM!--- all the friggin blood-curdling deathmetal I wanna hear during my shift.

gke565
gke565

What - no X-Box music?  Players for online/offline, storage of ripped music, etc.  Works on PC/iPads/X-box/Andriod/WP8.  I use it all the time to find new music.  If you catch a special its $39/yr.

dporton
dporton

There is also sky.fm which gives you a fairly large selection of themes (80's Rock, Jazz, Alternative Rock, Country, etc). Free version has commercials, which last a couple seconds and aren't that bad. Check it out. If you're an electronica fan, there's is a great sister site called di.fm

cwgjr
cwgjr

A really neat little app for Linux users is Radio Tray.  This freebie does not require a browser and offers a good number of radio stations by genre.  One of my favorites is Cinemix with very few commercial interruptions.

rd2rk
rd2rk

For streaming radio style (music picked by "DJ") I like Live365. For offline (I pick the music), I've used Rhapsody-To-Go for years. I've got over 4000 songs in my library for $9/mo. That I rarely see either of these in any of these "Top X Streaming Services" rundowns seems curious to me. Why Pandora ever gets listed baffles me. The "custom station" model is a joke, as the selection is very limited, the whole "Genome" thing is a farce, and the number and frequency of replays is unacceptable. It reminds me of the Microsoft Radio experiment some years ago. I created a Blues station starting with SRV and added several other modern blues artists. The first song I heard was SRV, followed by Bob Dylan and Celine Dion?!!? On Pandora I created 2 stations: One based on jazz/funk Bass player-band leaders, the other on jazz guitar players. Both stations start with one of my choices, then they devolve into random jazz or jazz/funk with nothing more than a vague nod toward selections more or less within the genre.Their definition of "Genome" is apparently way different than mine.


I sometimes listen to (but don't subscribe to) Slacker. Their "custom station" model works better than Pandora, but the selection is similarly limited. Now, these limitations could be a result of these services being more focused on modern artists and current releases than suit my tastes (electric blues, jazz, kick-ass hard rock). Live365, having many many stations pre-formatted by real people from their personal music collections just seems to work better for me and though I forget the cost (I do an annual subscription), I think it was, like, $75 a year. Works for me.

dcwdcwdcw
dcwdcwdcw

Another vote hear for Rdio.  Costs me $5/month for unlimited ad-free streaming.  I do not know enough about the other services to compare.  It has its own app for Windows.

mscoulter
mscoulter

What about Rdio? I'd like to know how it works before wasting time trying it. They are advertising very heavily these days.

ronbo4610
ronbo4610

Info out of date. GROOVESHARK does have offline mode. I have about 80 songs offlined on my grooveshark app on the tablet I'm typing this email from. I've tried spotify, but I like grooveshark better.

Al@Baxter
Al@Baxter

I didn't see Slacker mentioned. I get it and Pandora from my TV or my Sonos at home. My company blocks streaming music and video via desktop, so I have to rely on my phone with a 128 gigabyte SD card as cell service is not great due to the all metal building. Then there's always the monthly data limit to contend with...

jonah jones
jonah jones

it annoys me immensely when after typing in my shoe size and favourite taste in fizzy drinks

i am told "XXXXXXX is not available in your country"

enquiries
enquiries

i found spotify too tied to facebook so i use rdio and am happy. seems better quality of sound too. i wish this writer had mentioned royalty rates to musicians. some are appalling (itunes!)

bobmattfran
bobmattfran

Nonsense, All need a connection to the internet. Try connecting to the internet in my company which has a secure intranet and know external public connections. It would mean either a WiFi connection (banned, and doesn't work to well in a large Faraday cage, or attempting to breach the telecomms systtem. ) Either route and you feet won't touch and forget any reference after being prosecuted.

karl.fisher
karl.fisher

I use Rdio as well. I have tried Spotify, Beats, and others, Rdio is the best for me. Surprised it wasn't even mentioned. 

jemorris
jemorris

@rblackman we use a content filtering firewall that you can apportion a max bandwidth or a max % of bandwidth for certain services. So we set the streaming music at 2%, if too many folks (including the boss's daughter!) try to stream, it affects the quality of their music and they turn it off in favor of their portable FM radio. If anyone gripes I tell them to take it to the boss!

zzet8
zzet8

many of these services offer offline access, so it wouldn't eat any bandwidth

cjwidener
cjwidener

@enquiries I orginally signed up with Spotify via FB but found I could disconnect the two. My only gripe is the desktop app can be a bit resource intensive but the latest update seems to be heading in the right direction.

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