Cheap (and Free) Ways to Listen to Music Online

Spotify and similar services let you be your own DJ.


Music aficionados have long had plenty of inexpensive—and legal—ways to discover and listen to songs online. Personalized Internet radio sites like Jango, Pandora, and Slacker Radio let users create and refine "stations" of artists or songs that they like for free (though there are ads).

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But since July, U.S. music lovers have been buzzing about Spotify, a European website that boasts a catalogue of more than 15 million songs licensed from many independent and major record labels. Spotify also lets you import music you already own and share tunes with friends and family over Facebook and Twitter.

For $4.99 a month you can upgrade to an ad-free version, and for $9.99 you get better sound quality, mobile device connectivity, and the ability to make selected playlists listenable without an Internet connection.

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Other sites like MOG and Rdio offer some free options, and listeners willing to pay $5 a month can enjoy perks like no ads and no limits on streaming. Another website, Maestro, lets users store 2 gigabytes (more if they get friends to sign up) of music online for free to play on multiple computers and mobile devices. Facebook and Google have their own music programs on the way.