How Do You Listen to Music for Free Online?

By Jack SteinLast Updated June 24, 2020
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Whether you need to listen to a particular song right now or just want to stream some background music while you work, there are plenty of ways to listen to music for free online. Some services allow you to search for that special tune, while others formulate a playlist based on your preferences.

What they all have in common, however, is that they don’t cost a dime, and none of them require you to do anything more than download an app or visit a website. Just choose one from the list below, plug in your earbuds and let the good times flow.

Pandora

Pandora is an online streaming service you can listen to via website on your computer or via app on your mobile device. To get started, sign up for a free account and use the search feature to select radio stations based on artists, songs and music genres you like. Once you choose one, the station will play songs similar to whatever you selected. You can then rate each song with a thumbs up or a thumbs down based on whether or not you like it.

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Over time, the station will become more tailored towards your tastes, phasing out the songs you marked with a thumbs down and playing more songs you’re likely to love. You can only skip so many songs within an hour. The longer you listen, the more Pandora feels like your own personal playlist. The base service is free, but there’s also a paid option that allows you to skip as many songs as you like and more for those who want even more control over their music.

YouTube Music

It’d be hard to find someone who hasn’t looked up a song they liked on YouTube. Most noteworthy artists from the last few decades have videos there, and fans will (not always legally) upload the song with accompanying lyrics. You can also find versions of songs that are harder to locate, including some old live and TV appearances by your favorite artists.

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YouTube Music makes listening to music even easier. It takes all of the video content on the original YouTube site and presents it in a format where you can easily listen to specific albums or artists. You can disable autoplay, listen to songs on repeat, save songs to your library and more. While your music will be periodically interrupted if you listen on a mobile device, the YouTube Music website itself lets you listen without interruptions. While a subscription can unlock useful features, including the ability to keep the music playing even when navigating away from the mobile app on your phone, it definitely isn’t necessary to enjoy the range of amateur and professional musicians on YouTube Music.

Spotify

Spotify is similar to Pandora in that it lets you listen to your favorite music for free with the catch that you can’t control which specific song is playing. Where Pandora helps you find new artists that are similar to the ones you already love, Spotify distinguishes itself by acting sort of like the shuffle feature on an MP3 player. Once you sign up for a free account, you can start your search for your favorite music and then create a playlist featuring those tunes. Spotify will then play those songs back in a randomized order. You can skip songs, but as with Pandora, there’s an hourly cap on how many times you can do so per hour unless you pay for a subscription.

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After creating a playlist, you can share it with others. You can also check out playlists made by other users to find out what other people are listening to.

iHeartRadio

If you like traditional radio, but you also like streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, you may want to give iHeartRadio a try. While it has its restrictions, you’ll never find yourself short on music, and you don’t even have to sign up for an account to listen. You can choose from radio stations all over the country, both AM and FM, and you can search by city or genre. You can also build your own custom streaming stations based on your likes and dislikes.

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One of the downsides to iHeartRadio is that the platform can be heavy on ads. Additionally, can only skip a certain number of songs per day.

LiveXLive

LiveXLive — formerly known as Slacker Radio — doesn’t have the name recognition of Pandora or Spotify, but it offers many of the same services and even some extra features that might lead you to discover unfamiliar artists. As with many of its rivals, you choose songs, genres and artists you like to get started. Slacker Radio then puts together a station with similar songs just for you. You can also share stations in the vein of Spotify.

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Where LiveXLive shines is, as the name suggests, live music. The service provides live coverage of numerous music events, and while many have a cover fee, others are free. You can also listen to podcasts, hear the latest music news and even watch music-related video content on the LiveXLive website.

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