8 music streaming services worth trying out

By Abhijit Dey | Updated Apr 05 2016
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There are many online music streaming services to choose from, but how do you get the best out of them? We look into a few of the popular ones available in India which learn your music tastes and tempt you to explore further.

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The first choice when it comes online music streaming is Grooveshark. Though their mobile app isn’t that good, the web application makes up for it. It lets you not only stream songs, but also upload songs and then let others also stream it. The library is so huge that you will come across almost every obscure song or artist you’re trying to look for. The home page gives you a long list of music recommendations from previously heard music, and list of popular songs and new releases on Grooveshark. One problem with it is that since users can upload  songs, there are multiple title tracks available for the same song. But the search filter lists the correct ones at the top, so you’re sorted. You can share songs within the service to your friends very easily and users can create their own playlists and broadcast it as a radio station, so that people with similar music tastes can stream them. The Live Broadcasts section is a great way to discover music on Grooveshark.

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An exclusive and exciting feature that Rdio has is that it creates your own personalised FM station according to your favourites and streaming history. You can also create collaborative playlists, where others can modify them which is a quite useful feature. Music discovery is a wonderful experience on Rdio, listing sections for music that are trending, recently released, and recommendations from your  streaming history. The Trending section gives you albums, stations, playlists and songs that are currently trending in your region (mostly country based). When you want to hit up random playlists or stations, the Browse section is amazing and lists out music according to moods, celebrities and genre with more playlists. Rdio is integrated into Shazam and SoundHound, so that you can directly play the song that you discovered inside the app. Since Rdio is now officially available in India, you can search for Bollywood and regional songs as well.

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8tracks has always been a great service for discovering music, though it may not be that good for streaming. There are a large number of playlists present on this service and the featured ones are truly amazing. As soon as you hit up the Explore tab, you will be able to search for songs from among 2 million playlists, and search songs under different tags. Though you might think that 8tracks lacks features as you spend more time discovering music on this service, you would learn that it is mostly intended for music discovery, a playlist sharing service if you will. Playlists have a unique feature that shows analytics too, but it’s still in beta version. 8tracks forums is another place to discover great recommendations. All in all, it’s a great place to create your own playlist and share it among a million other users and connect to like-minded people.

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SoundCloud is a great platform to discover songs from popular as well as aspiring independent artists who can upload songs and share their creations. This service has great tools for content discovery that covers numerous genres. You can follow users who upload songs, samples, podcasts and even radio shows, and they appear in your Streams tab. The Explore tab lets you browse through thousands of songs letting you filter them too. Currently it is a great service to follow your favourite podcasts, radio talk shows and DJs.

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When you hit up Guvera’s web app, you are presented with featured playlists curated by them according to your region. There’s a New Releases section which gives you a list of recent song releases, but we could only find album releases of local music artists. The #Play section lets you search for tags on artists, moods or genres, and adding your desired tags together for Guvera to cook up a common playlist from those tags. This gives you the power to discover music you like. One neat feature we liked is that you can search for songs straightaway by typing for the song or artist you’re looking for without going to the search tab. But Guvera doesn’t automatically collect your previously played songs to present you with recommendations and you have to manually search for songs. The #Play feature is therefore a better way to do it.

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There are endless venues to browse for music on Gaana. The categorisation and listing of artists, albums, playlists under different languages is really impressive. This is hardly seen in other services hence it is currently the most popular music streaming app in India for Bollywood music. We spent quite some time on Gaana and were disappointed that there was no section for music suggestions based on our streaming history. You have to go through either the playlists and stations curated by the Gaana team themselves or through the ones that are visible on the feed due to its popularity. So if you’re looking for songs from particular artists or genres, especially Bollywood and regional ones (english songs library still being less), than you would love using Gaana. But you should know that it doesn’t collect your listening history (though it gives you a list of the songs you have listened earlier) to curate and give you recommendations, which can be worked around using a scrobbler (discussed later).

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Saavn has a neat interface that opens up new song releases with tabs to switch to other languages. Browsing for music here is fine again for Bollywood and regional songs, and has less international songs in its library. You have different sections like featured playlists, new releases, weekly top 15, and song of the day. A very useful section called All Albums, lets you search for music albums alphabetically, and also albums from different languages. This feature isn’t found in any of the services mentioned here. It also has an interesting Surprise Me section which throws random playlists at you created by Saavn and could be a good music discovery feature. Again, Saavn doesn’t tailor music recommendations for you, but does give you a couple of neat features to discover music you like.

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Currently available for only Android and iOS devices, Wynk gives you an easy interface compared to the other services to browse through its library of international and regional songs. It has many sections on its homepage to discover music under different languages, new releases, popular in Saavn, top albums, top playlists, moods and popular artists. Every section opens up a number of playlists to choose from. It does have all the basic features essential for a music streaming app and it also creates a timeline of the music you have listened to or downloaded. The app has still a lot of catching up to do to offer some exclusive services from its competitors, so we would be keeping an eye out for Wynk (did you see what we did there?).

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Scrobbling for better recommendations

You might not always be able to search for that rare song on every streaming service you stumbled upon somewhere else. So, how do you get all the songs that you listen to on multiple services, multiple devices and also on different software? The best solution is to create an account on Last.fm, and enable scrobbling on other services that you stream songs on. Scrobbling is nothing but collecting and sending the played songs to a website (Last.fm in this case) while trying to improve your recommendations by tailoring them for you. There are many ways that you could accomplish this including downloading their desktop app available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Or an easier way could be adding a browser extension that would be able to catch literally every song you play through your browser, no matter which website you’re playing it from.

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