Top 5 Places to Listen to Free Music Online

July 31st, 2008

In this article, I look at some of the websites which are beginning to allow people to listen to music for free online and legally. By this I mean music on-demand where the listener has full control over what they listen to rather than streaming radio stations.

Free on-demand music is a whole different business model where music is free to the listener at the point of delivery. Industry experts estimate that on-demand streaming rates are about 1 cent per song. This means royalties for the can get fairly expensive quite quickly. So to recoup costs, most of these services are advertising funded.

1. Deezer

Deezer has a catalogue of millions of songs to listen to on demand. The interface is easy to use, the music is of a fairly good quality and there are additional features such as personalised “SmartRadio”s and social features. They allow embedding in websites and direct linking to songs. Unlike some other sites, Deezer has on-demand music as it’s primary focus rather than using on-demand music to complement other features.

Deezer has agreements with Sony BMG and Universal.

Deezer is my personal favourite on-demand music website and I’ve recently interviewed Paul Ricard from Deezer for a feature on this blog.

2. Last.fm

Last.fm began life as Audioscrobbler – a programme which allowed people to send details of the music they were listening to. Audioscrobbler would analyse the songs you listened to and would recommend similar music which might be of interest. When the site became Last.fm, the site added radio features. Earlier this year, Last.fm has added the ability to stream songs on-demand from their website. The down side is that it is only possible to stream each song a maximum of three times. But it does in my opinion have by far the best user interface and community.

Last.fm has agreements with Warner Music and Sony BMG.

3. YouTube

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, YouTube needs no introduction – the most popular streaming video website on the internet. Originally a hub for pirated music and videos, Google bought up the company and signed deals with the major music labels to allow them to legally show music videos on YouTube. Unfortunately, finding songs on YouTube sometimes means having to sort your way through poor quality concert recordings. And even when you find the official music video, the soundtrack on the video probably won’t be identical to the studio recording. But pretty much every song ever recorded will be on YouTube. It’s very difficult to use YouTube to “listen” to music for an extended amount of time but it’s good for listening to the odd song or two.

Several websites such as Songza and MusicMesh attempt to provide a “nicer” user interface for listening to music on YouTube.

YouTube has agreements with Warner Music, EMI, Universal Music, Sony BMG… well, everyone really

4. imeem

Imeem is a little bit like YouTube for music. It was set up by many of the engineers behind Napster. The site is first and foremost a social network around music providing all kinds of things such as video, polls, photos and blogs.

Imeem has agreements with the four large record companies which means it has a lot of songs. Many songs can be listened to in full but you’ll be badgered to register and the user interface is pretty confusing and cluttered.

imeem has agreements with Warner Music, Sony BMG, EMI and Universal Music

5. iLike

Probably like most people, I thought iLike was just a one of those Facebook application which clutters profiles. iLike’s website is reminscent of Facebook’s friend feed.

iLike has a fairly clean interface and allows you to stream a good deal of songs. The quality seems to be pretty decent but you only get to stream 25 songs per month. After that, you’ve got to pay.

I’d love you to join in the discussion about the future of music. Has the internet changed the way that you listen to music? Where do you get your music from? Will on-demand music replace the need to buy music?

    

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About Ken

Ken Lo

I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.

Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 14 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. @TwinsDirect said:

    Jampri is my latest choice. Listen to a baby go to sleep playlist. http://www.jampri.com/playlist/5111

  2. Daniel said:

    Frankly a site like sharethemusic.com actually do have a lot of illegal content on it, it’s just working as a link between users which mean the site itself isn’t doing anything illegal, but artists aren’t making any profit.

    grooveshark seems nice though, i used to use deezer myself. Another alternative would be we7.com, nice blogpost Ken :)

  3. john said:

    i use grooveshark.com all the time, seems to be the best one i can find. NO audio adverts just small flash ones down the side, also free phone apps for the system

  4. Gonzalez said:

    I discovered http://www.sharethemusic.com too. I think they launched this site few months ago but I like the idea of this project. You can listen to not only songs but also full albums – it’s cool.
    You have to register and download free player but I agree with Fragola – it is worth it.
    They have latest Massive Attack, lot of Metallica and other nice stuff.

  5. leym said:

    maybe videokeman.com could cater some of your needs…its purely music, no videos…but it’s update is not on real time basis…u can browse by artist or by music title or even by song lyrics….music quality is not too good but manageable…….try sometimes…hope you will enjoy…

  6. Fragola said:

    I use http://www.sharethemusic.com. You can listen to music from other users for free and legally. You have to register and download software’, but I think it’s worth it.

  7. daphne said:

    I’d like to point out that sadly and that sadly and to my extreme disliking imeem has become a part of myspace music and has deleted every users info and is basically horrible now

    oh and anyone no anysites that are like wat it used to be?

  8. Jamilyn said:

    I don’t like that many of these sites say “listen for free” but if you’re not from the United States you can’t listen to them. They say no limitations but there are. I would recommend http://www.palzoo.net and check out their new music section. There are no limitations and you can listen to free streaming mp3s. No downloads just free listening. You can also create playlists and embed the players anywhere. It’s new but it is also a fully licensed site so it looks like its growing.

  9. top40tube said:

    Hi Emma, top40tube.co.uk does do exactly that. There are links to download if you wish but they are discreet :)

    1. kaylan replied:

      but what if there is a firewall and you dont now the password to overrite it what website is there now cause i dan try it but it dont work

  10. Emma said:

    Please,
    Can you consider creating a website with NO strings attached and JUST put on free music to play without downloading it or paying for it or anything.
    I am currently a student at Thurstable school and when we have free time i would like to be able just to listern to music, you could advertise this website or others on there i don’t mind, but it would be come VERY popular if you did create this ideal website.

    Yours Thankfully,
    Emma.

  11. JackLloyd. said:

    Top40Tube
    http://top40tube.co.uk

    For anyone who is interested in the UK top 40 singles chart then check out Top40Tube.co.uk

    UK Top 40 singles video playlist and legal downloads, updated every week (Sunday) :)

    JackLloyd.

  12. Dreamdemon said:

    I would recommend http://www.topinweb.com for fastest free music download. It’s the only one I use.

  13. Ghassan said:

    Dear Jesus on a popsickle stick, why do these pages (Deezer being one of them) insist on translating to Polish (and most likely other languages) when they translate every other or third word?! It looks ridiculous, unprofessional and just plain dumb. Why have a translation in the first place if no one can use it?!

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