Still waiting for that Spotify membership confirmation to arrive? Restlessly checking your e-mail inbox every half-hour or so? Yeah, we know the feeling.
The long-awaited U.S. version of Europe’s popular streaming audio service went live today. Currently, the website’s sole feature is an e-mail sign-up for those who want to explore Spotify’s free content; thus, curious music fans across the country are waiting anxiously to be granted access.
The wait has us all tingly with anticipation — but to curb the agony in the meantime, check out some of these other free, legal music-streaming options already available online:
The creators of 8tracks.com call it “handcrafted Internet radio”: Users create mixtape-style song sets that other users can then listen to and comment on. A quick perusal through the site’s “Popular This Month” feature pulls up a smorgasbord of blithe, beachy summer-themed compilations. 8tracks’ programming also supplies the music mixes featured on bro-friendly jam hub FratMusic.com.
Perfect for: The iPod DJ. The service was built with devoted mixtape-makers in mind; 8tracks is the ideal online accessory for the friend in charge of the annual Summer Road Trip Megamix, or the mastermind who expertly engineered “The Best Breakup Songs Ever: Christopher Edition.”
Originally a startup run by students at the University of Florida, the U.S.-based jukebox site Grooveshark.com lets users upload their music collections to the site’s shared online library. Thanks to its global community of users (evidenced by the 29 available language translations available on the main site), Grooveshark boasts an impressively well-rounded repertoire. Last year Grooveshark was featured among Time’s 50 Best Websites of 2010.
Perfect for: The party host. Check it out if you love an upbeat ambience but you’d rather mingle than man the speaker system—Grooveshark’s ample catalogue of Top 40 favorites like Katy Perry, Rihanna and Pitbull and its nifty user-friendly playlist tool make it possible to get the party started without having to babysit the DJ table.
Advertising itself as a “free emotional Internet radio,” Stereomood features collections of streaming music, much of it lesser-known, categorized by tags with a specific mood or activity in mind. “Melancholy,” “Jogging,” “Tango Lesson” and, of course, “Make Love” are among our favorites, while the quirky “Balancing Checkbook” wins the prize for specificity of purpose.
Perfect for: The believer in real-life soundtracks. If you walked to work in the morning to “You Make My Dreams” every day for a month after seeing 500 Days of Summer, or you insist on hearing Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah” every time you cry, Stereomood might be just what you’ve been waiting for.
With a music player powered by Last.fm, blog aggregator The Hype Machine allows listeners to stream MP3s culled from the broad community of indie and underground music blogs. The Hype Machine monitors hundreds of blogs, which means tracks by up-and-coming acts—as well as album leaks and sneak previews of upcoming wider releases—are being added to the site all day, every day.
Perfect for: The tech-savvy hipster. If you’re the friend who loves to say “You probably haven’t heard of them yet, but…”, the Hype Machine offers a way to maintain your two-steps-ahead-of-the-game status.
Song, artist and keyword searches generate if-you-liked-this-then-try-this custom radio stations on Pandora.com. Punch in “Beyonce” and you’ll be treated to not only the “Irreplaceable” diva herself but also Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Usher and Justin Timberlake. Users can employ an “add variety” feature to spice up their stations—and even searches for Disney, bhangra and Joao Gilberto pull up relevant, surprisingly authoritative selections.
Perfect for: The recommendation-seeker. If you’re constantly peppering your more clued-in buddies (see above) with queries like, “What should I listen to next if I like David Gray?,” Pandora might be your new best (algorithmically-generated) friend.