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The Best Internet Radio Stations of 2014


March, 2014

This list is randomly ordered. Many items on this list are 'hubs' of radio stations with multiple channels. This changing list is compiled from reader suggestions. The evaluation criteria is a subjective blend of music selection size, ease of use, friendly navigation, availability, system requirements, and convenience of service. Nominate your own favorite radio stations here. Be warned: Internet radio does consume significant bandwidth over the hours. Streaming music is best listened to at home where you have a large or unlimited bandwidth allotment on DSL or cable.

1. Maestro.fm

Like Last.FM, Maestro is about social networking with other music fans. You can trade playlists, follow user discussions on music genres, and discover new artists through conversations. You can even store some of your music at their remote storage site. If you like Facebook and Last.FM, do give Maestro a try.

2. Grooveshark: Self-Directed Radio

Grooveshark is a real crowd pleaser! It is not a conventional Internet radio station where a DJ or database designs the playlists. Instead, you choose your own songs with the playlist creator. But much more than your own computer, there are hundreds of thousands of songs to choose from at Grooveshark. If you're willing to put in ten minutes of effort to design your own playlist, Grooveshark will not disappoint. Advertising is a sidebar of visual ads on the right, which can be removed for 3 dollars per month.

3. Spotify


Spotify is arguably the best free music service available today.  While Spotify is limited to the USA, Spain, the UK,and parts of Europe at this time (sorry, Canadians and the rest of you), it's already a massive hit with listeners. As they surmount music licensing challenges, Spotify hopes to expand into other countries soon.

As for the service itself: Spotify is a fast and reliable radio system that outstrips the competition.  Spotify differentiates itself from iTunes and Pandora by behaving as a massive external hard drive  (i.e. it plays full songs and albums as if you owned the CD). As a recommendation and discovery tool, Spotify also stands out:  it reads your own music collection and playlists from your hard drives, and then suggests new releases, top-10 lists, and your friends' music lists.  The interface is clean, and the search box is very convenient.

The service is free and unlimited for six months.  After that, users can continue to receive free music with some limitations on number of hours, or else they can subscribe for five dollars a month.

Definitely try Spotify.com. 

4. Canadian Web Radio

This is not a destination service, like the other items in this list. Rather, this is a compilation of links to traditional Canadian radio stations that also stream their shows across the Web. If you are curious to listen to what Canadians are listening to, and talking about, check out the music and talk shows at this Canadian radio hub. Special thanks to the About.com readers in Alberta who sent in this suggestion.

5. AcousticAlternative.com

Not just acoustic, but also alternative, Charlestown, Ska, punk, and other genres can be found at Acoustic Alternative. AA is not as popular as other stations on this list, but the readers who have recommend Acoustic Alternative really like it.

6. Pirate Radio Network

Pirate Radio Network offers two different means of listening to their broadcasts: via web tuner or via a downloadable special player. Hundrds of music genres abound here, and you're bound to discover new music that you will like at Pirate Radio Network. For those of you who use a PC: you can even make your own radio station and start broadcasting yourself as an amateur DJ. You will have to install a software package to try this, but it's definitely worth trying if you've ever wanted to DJ.

7. Last.fm

Social networking is strong at Last.FM: you can connect with other users and trade suggestions and friendly banter. You can vote that you 'love' or 'hate' a particular artist or song. The recommendation will even try to help you choose songs by taking your favorites and extrapolating from there. The service does cost 3 dollars per month, and sometimes it feels like Facebook, but Last.FM is a crowd pleaser. Try it and decide for yourself if you agree with the thousands of users who frequent this site.

8. 'The Inferno' Radio

The Inferno specializes in 'eclectic' listening: blending many different genres into a single playlist. David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Lady Gaga, Kid Rock, Led Zeppelin, Cyndi Lauper... playlists that are compiled by both DJ's and user music requests. If you have broad tastes in music, The Inferno might be a good radio station for you.

9. SHOUTcast by Nullsoft

SHOUTcast is a massive selection of individual radio stations (over 700 pages worth). In fact, there are so many stations here, it is intimidating to even find one in the first place. But if you like niche music that is hard to find, definitely try SHOUTcast. Gothic metal from the 90's, big band swing remixes, German synth music... if there is a place to find niche music, it would be here at SHOUTcast.

10. Pandora

Pandora uses a form of low-level artificial intelligence: it tries to learn what your music habits are, and then suggests new music that you might like. The 'recommendation engine' behind Pandora is still very new, and uses arguably shallow criteria for deciding the DNA of a song. But thousands of users love Pandora, and if you live in the USA, definitely try this service. Sorry, American computers only... machines outside the USA will be blocked. Copyright agreements are annoying, yes.

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