How to Listen to Music for Free Online

By Staff WriterLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 6:48:01 PM ET
Woman listening to headphones

Whether you need to hear a particular song right now or you just want to stream some background music while you work, there are multiple online sources you can use. Some allow you to search for that special tune. Others formulate a playlist based on your preferences. All of them are free and none of them require you to download anything more than an app. Just choose one from the list below, plug in your earbuds and you’re good to go.


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. While it’s not the greatest option for background music, you can set your YouTube account to autoplay, which means it’ll automatically play another video after the one you’re currently watching ends. Unfortunately, it’s not always going to be a video you want to see or hear. You can also create your own video playlists if you have an account.


Pandora is an online streaming service you can listen to via the website on your computer or via an 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, and you can rate each song with a thumbs up or a thumbs down based on whether or not you like it. In time, the station will curate a list that is more tailored towards your tastes, skipping the songs you marked with a thumbs down. You can only skip so many songs within an hour. The longer you listen, the more Pandora feels like your own personal playlist. While it is free, there is a paid option that allows you to skip as many songs as you like.


Spotify is much like Pandora, and most people typically prefer one over the other. It’s sort of like having your own personal audio music player once you figure out how to work the app, which is available for Android and iOS, or the website, which you use to listen to music on a PC. 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. You can share your playlists with others, and you can listen to other people’s playlists if you desire. Just be aware you can’t play the songs you want when you want. Even though you’ve selected your favorites, Spotify plays them in shuffle mode. And like Pandora, you can only skip so many songs per hour, but there is a premium version that allows you to bypass that.


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 listen to radio stations from all over the country, both AM and FM, by searching for various cities and genres. And you can also build your own custom streaming stations based on your likes and dislikes. Some of the downsides to iHeartRadio are that the platform seemingly plays more ads than other options, and you can only skip a certain number of songs per day.


Slacker Radio

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. To use it, you choose songs, genres and artists you like, and then Slacker Radio puts together a station with similar songs just for you. If you get tired of listening to your own station, you can actually listen to those created by other users. Like the other music services, there is a premium option available if you decide you’re tired of ads or you want to listen to your music offline.