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The Essential Guide to Music Streaming

If you’re part of the 78 percent of Internet radio consumers still using Pandora (according to Bloomberg), it’s time to graduate to the next level of music streaming.

Sure, Pandora has its positives, but it also comes with a lot of flaws. It’s free to use, but you have to deal with the annoying ads. Even if you upgrade to the premium version to get rid of the ads, you’re still stuck with a small library of less than a million songs, low-quality audio streaming at 64 kbps, predictable playlists and a limited amount of skips.

There are a lot of better alternatives, but I’ll just discuss five of my favorites. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Spotify

Library: 20 million songs
Audio Quality: 320 kbps
Subscription: $10/month
But I don’t want to pay: There’s a free membership tier, but features are limited

If you’ve already moved on from Pandora, you’ve probably tried Spotify. It’s the most popular and one of the most versatile services on this list.

If you like to listen to entire albums from beginning to end, you’ll appreciate Spotify’s large library. It’s also easy to stay current with the help of the “New Releases” and “New Music Tuesday” features.

You can customize your own playlists from scratch and make them available offline if you’re a premium member. Overall, Spotify has some of the best features of any app that I’ve used.

If you’re streaming music for a bbq or house party, make sure to enable the crossfade function. It’s like listening to a bad bedroom DJ mix two songs together, but at least it’ll keep the party going.

2. Rdio

Library: 20 million songs
Audio Quality: 192 kbps, but 320 kbps will be available in the near future
Subscription: $10/month
But I don’t want to pay: Free streaming through their website