Pandora, Spotify, and Grooveshark (oh my!) - Which Online Music Service is REALLY the Best for You?

Online music streaming is at a high point.  Including the recent emergence of "iTunes Radio", Apples' new addition to the online music streaming community, users now have over a dozen options to choose from when selecting their music streaming provider - and its definitely a challenge to compare them.  Which service offers the best comprehensive coverage?  Is it worth paying for premium services?

There are plenty of sources out there for different lifestyles and needs.  For users with extensive already-existing music libraries in iTunes or Google, iTunes Radio and Google Play are good options as they have "library integration" features - meaning they combine new music with your current library when creating your online listening station.  Spotify and Rdio are good for  those with less extensive libraries, and their premium features offer offline listening capabilities that their counterparts do not.

Tech blog GigaOM created this great table (left) to help you compare your options based on price, function, streaming, playlist capabilities, and purchase song options.

Jason Finn, Geek | Chicago's "Chief Geek", personally uses Spotify Premium.  While iTunes Radio has syncing capabilities with your iTunes music and is cheaper ($25/year vs. $10/month for Spotify Premium), it does not support offline listening - a big deterrent for those who listen mostly on-the-go.  With Spotify, there are playlist download capabilities so you can listen to music without internet or 3G data usage. 

If you're the type of person who doesn't know what you want to listen to and you don't want to spend any money, this Geek, Alex, yours truly, recommends Songza, which creates music playlists based on your mood or location rather than on a genre or artist (like Pandora).

What's your favorite streaming service?  Do you use more than one, or are you a music streaming loyalist?

Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).