Music Streaming Service Round-Up


Online music streaming services have come a long way and some now offer iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch compatibility. This round-up will help you explore the services and what they offer.

Let's Begin:

Online music streaming services have really matured since the early attempts. Due to the increased available of high speed Internet service and the drop in cost, it’s easier than ever to get high quality music streamed directly to your desktop computer, whether it be a Mac or a PC.  Some services will stream directly to your iPhone or iPad, and a few will let you download music directly to your portable music player. Here’s a round-up of the leading music streaming services that you should be sure to check out:


My personal favorite online music streaming service is pandora.com. Their main feature is offering you the ability to program your own “radio stations” that play music you like either by artist, genre or by similar songs.  It works by trying to find songs you might like that are similar to songs you’ve indicated that you do like. You can program quite a few different station to match whatever listing mood you’re in and you can even have it mix music from multiple stations for added variety.

Cost: free service offers 40 hours of listening per month and contains ads. Paid service is $36 per year and offers unlimited listening and no ads.

Music Download Available: no, though music can be purchased through iTunes

iPhone/iPad compatibility: a free music player app gives you access to the same stations on your mobile device that you created on the desktop via their website.

Pros: great way to discover new music in genres you like and a great way to have personalized “radio stations” that play just what you like. Paid service is cheap at only $3 per month.

Cons: can’t listen to specific songs when you want, can’t download individual tracks and there’s no way to listen when you’re offline.


Rhapsody.com offers the “all-you-can-eat” style of music listening. For a monthly subscription fee of $10 per month, Rhapsody allows you stream as much music as you want from their music library, and you can stream just the songs or albums that you want.  It’s also one of the few services that let you download any songs you like into the Rhapsody player app for your iPhone or iPad. This means you can take the music with you and listen when you don’t have an Internet connection. That’s a real plus, however the songs you download don’t go into your iTunes library. They’re kept segregated in the Rhapsody player app so that you can’t make unauthorized copies nor share the music with others. The music you download will also be disabled if you terminate your subscription with Rhapsody. In other words, you’re basically renting the music. You also have the option to purchase tracks which you can keep forever. Prices are about the same as on iTunes so there’s no terribly compelling reason to purchase from them. If you don’t mind the monthly fee, then this is a great way to get access to a huge music library.

Cost: free service allows you to listen to 25 songs per month. Paid service is $10 per month and allows to stream all you want and download tracks to your portable device in a rental style fashion.

Music Downloads: Yes. You can keep tracks on your iPhone or iPad as long as your subscription is active. Tracks are also available for purchase.

iPhone/iPad Compatibility: Yes, via the free Rhapsody player app.

Pros: offers a great all-you-can-eat music streaming and rental service, lets you listen to what you want when you want with no limits using a paid subscription.

Cons: any music you downloaded to you iPhone or iPad will be disabled if your subscription expires (though music you purchased is good forever).


Napster.com, which used to be synonymous with music piracy, has been a legitimate service for some time now and offers music streaming and tracks for purchase. You can stream a limited number of tracks for free each month, but the better deal is the $5 per month offer which lets you stream as many songs as you like to your desktop and gives you five credits per month that let you download songs for free. These song credits get you DRM-free tracks that are good forever and you get to keep them even if you terminate your subscription. So if you normally purchase five or more songs a month through an online music store like iTunes or amazon.com, then a Napster subscription basically pays for itself. Like Rhapsody, Napster offers an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch app that lets you stream music to your device and also download tracks into the device which you can listen to when you’re offline. This option is slightly more expensive at $10 per month. And as with Rhapsody, these songs disappear if your subscription ever expires and they aren’t part of your iTunes library so you can’t share them with anyone else. Individual tracks and albums are also available for purchase in the usual price range.

Cost: free service allows a limited number of songs streamed per month. Paid subscription at $5 per month gets you unlimited music streaming to your desktop. A $10 per month subscription is required to download music to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch in a rental style fashion.

Music Downloads: Yes. Subscriptions include five free tracks per month and you can download more music rental style to your iPhone or iPod Touch with the more expensive $10 per month subscription level.

iPhone/iPad Compatibility: Yes, via the free Napster app, though music goes away if your subscription lapses. Songs you purchase are yours to keep forever.

Pros: Another great all-you-can-eat service for streaming music and taking music on the go with your iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone. The five free tracks per month that you get to keep forever is a real plus.

Cons: any music you downloaded to you iPhone or iPad will be disabled if your subscription expires (though music you purchased is good forever).

More Music Streaming Services

The three services outlined above are the main contenders at the moment and they all deserve a look if you think a paid music streaming service might be right for you. But if none of these services quite fit the bill for what you’re looking for, then check out these additional services to see if you like them better:









Enjoy the music!

(Note that prices and service features are current as of the date this article was written and are subject to change at any time and without notice. User assumes all risks when using any of these services and nothing in this article should be construed as an endorsement.)

Category: Apple iPhone