Time was, streaming music solely meant logging on to Pandora and crossing your fingers. But now there is a dizzying array of other services to choose from. We lent our expert ears to determine which ones offer the best deal.
The Deal $9.99 a month for unlimited streaming with mobile capabilities.
Verdict Rdio has by far the best app and online interface, making database searching and playlist curation easy. Add in a huge catalog and some nifty exclusives, and you’ve got the ideal package. A
The Deal Unlimited streaming free with ads, $4.99 a month without, $9.99 a month to go mobile.
Verdict Though it has improved vastly, the desktop interface remains slightly cumbersome. But Spotify’s best asset is its size: 20 million users (plus excellent social sharing options) ensure lots of eclectic playlists. A-
GOOGLE PLAY ALL ACCESS
The Deal $9.99 a month for unlimited streaming plus cloud storage worth 20,000 songs. ($7.99 until June 30, 2013).
Verdict The addition of uploading to augment the huge streaming archive fills in some huge gaps (welcome to streaming, Led Zeppelin!), and while the mobile version allows you to take everything with you, the app is only available on Android devices — which is like not having an app at all. B+
The Deal Unlimited free streaming care of Myspace’s vast archive of licensed music and a constant stream of uploads by independent artists.
Verdict The mobile app only offers artist-curated streaming radio, but it’s hard to beat that price for a music menu this huge. Plus, it’s got a sweet video player, if you’re into that. B+
The Deal $9.99 a month for unlimited streaming.
Verdict In addition to your computer, phone, and tablet, the decade-old Rhapsody has interfaces in TVs, home-audio devices, and even TiVo. Alas, there’s no free option. B
The Deal Free streaming radio.
Verdict Radio services have no on-demand option to find the exact song you want. Still, Songza has an excellent array of stations, including exquisite playlists based on your mood and the time of day. B-
The Deal Free streaming radio, $36 a year to go ad-free.
Verdict Launched in 2005, Pandora is available on just about every platform. There’s no on-demand, though, and stations tend to draw from a relatively small pool of albums. B-
The Deal Free for a mix of on-demand and radio.
Verdict It does a great job of making suggestions based on your listening habits. But most albums are incomplete, and new music is slow to arrive. C-