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5 streaming music services you might have overlooked

Anthony Domanico | May 22, 2014
The streaming music scene seems like it's ruled by a few heavyweights, with Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio slugging it out for your hearts, minds, and eardrums. But that's only part of the picture. Just as several lower-profile video streaming services vie with the likes of Netflix and Hulu, music streaming services you've probably never heard of are looking for ways to make their mark with features the established players don't offer.

What's good about StationDigital: A unique reward services awards stars — virtual currency that you can redeem for songs, albums, and all kinds of other items on the StationDigital store. You earn stars for signing up, sharing, and voting on music, or just listening to your favorite stations.

What could be better: While the service itself is rock solid, the same can't be said of StationDigital's mobile apps, which are in due of a major interface overhaul.

iHeartRadio

Most streaming services let you create customized radio stations or preset genre stations; iHeartRadio takes it a step further. You can create custom stations by artist or song, or you can listen to live radio stations from all across the U.S. iHeartRadio also lets you set your mood or an activity, and will play songs that fit the situation.

iHeartRadio features apps for Android, iOS (with separate iPhone and iPad offerings), Kindle Fire, assorted flavors of Windows (Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 7, and Windows 8), and BlackBerry. You'll also be able to get iHeartRadio on connected devices including Amazon's Fire TV, Xbox, Roku, Logitech Smart Radio, Sonos, and Yahoo TV. iHeartRadio has partnerships with several car companies, so it's included as an app on many vehicle entertainment centers.

What's good about iHeartRadio: iHeartRadio's presence reaches far and wide. It's perfect for folks who either travel often or have moved to a new spot and just want to listen to the familiar radio stations from their hometown.

What could be better: The major limitation of radio stations — and iHeartRadio, by extension — is that they play what they want, not necessarily what you want. Other services offer content better tailored to you.

Songza

While there's a lot to be said about music services that let you play whatever you want, whenever you want it, sometimes you just want to hit a button and have the perfect music start playing. When you first launch Songza, the service displays the time of day and several time-appropriate activities to select from. On a Monday night, for example, you can ask Songza to play music for studying. Select a subgenre that fits your music preferences, and Songza will play music that matches that activity. Songza also offers genre stations, if that's what you prefer.

You can listen via apps for Android, iOS, or Windows Phone or through a simple, intuitive interface for web that makes it easy to use and find the music you want.

What's good about Songza: Songza probably has the most creative music selection tool this side of Beats Music, and it gave me the best overall experience of the music streaming services I sampled.

 

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