Legally stream (almost) all the music you want in Australia – for free.

We all like music, right? I mean, some of us profess to enjoy it more properly, appropriately or adequately than others – this here Superior Hipster for example:

…but when you get down to it, pretty much everybody likes it.

So, we all want more of it, right? Thus the dawn and success of the iPod, and various other MP3 players. We could carry our thousands of tunes with us everywhere we went, beautiful.

Read on through my rambles to find out what I think the best music streaming service available to Australians is (so far).

If records, tapes and CDs were stage one… then MP3 players, phones with music playing power and digital downloads of albums are definitely stage two.

Enter stage three, streaming. The idea that all your music is actually stored somewhere out there on the “Internets” available for your listening pleasure whenever you damn well please. Provided you have a reasonable connection at least.

This isn’t just restricted to your laptop or desktop computer either, there’s no reason you can’t stream to your phone (unless your signal is down, duh).

Now, Australia has a dearth of good music streaming services. Pandora was here for a while, but it shut its doors to international users, plus it’s full of audio ads now anyway. Spotify won’t let you in unless you’ve got UK (possibly US too) payment credentials. Boohoo.

Various other services (Deezer, for example) are just… kind of sad.

So why am I banging on about this? It’s clear that Australia needs a good streaming service that exists with arms open to us.

It exists. I kid you not. It’s called Grooveshark. It looks like this:

I’ve been a user/advocate/fan of it for a while, but haven’t blogged about it until now. So, here’s what you need to know. Lets start with the good:

  • It’s free
  • It’s awesome
  • Most of the interface is HTML5
  • You can gather your favourite tracks into playlists
  • These playlists are shareable via Facebook, Twitter, email, link, or even embeddable as widgets (rad)
  • You can follow fellow listeners, and keep track of each other’s listening habits
  • It integrates with Facebook, Google, and Last.FM (winner)
  • There’s a radio button in the bottom right, allowing you to utilise Pandora-like music discovery features
  • Music is user-uploaded, that means there’s a lot of it
  • They update and improve things frequently
  • There exists a dedicated AIR desktop app, and mobile apps across Android as well as iOS
  • There are no audio ads, at all

I’m clearly an insane advocate of the thing, but as with everything in life (except kittens!), there’s a flip-side:

  • It still needs a little bit of Flash to stream the music
  • If you want to use it outside of the browser (say, on your mobile) then you’ll need to pay $9 a month – which could be worse
  • Due to Apple’s self-interest in the listening industry, you can only get the iOS applications on Cydia
  • Music is user-uploaded, this means there are a lot of duplicate listings
  • ID data is handled in a mediocre fashion at best, constructing your own playlists is the best way to go
  • It’s hugely addictive, and will eat your cruelly imposed download limit
  • No Beatles, Pink Floyd, or Smashing Pumpkins – those deals haven’t been signed yet

It’s not all roses, however, it’s still worth sniffing at. Essentially (almost) all the music you want to listen to, for free, legally. The UI is a bit confusing, but they’re consistently improving it.

I highly recommend giving it a whirl, just hop on and start searching. Or if you need a more structured beginning, you can find a bunch of my ready-made playlists here – but there’s no guarantee my music tastes will suit yours.

Share and enjoy, everybody.


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8 Responses to Legally stream (almost) all the music you want in Australia – for free.

  1. Minty Soba says:

    I totally agree. I’ve tried every streaming music service I’ve come across and GS is the only one I’ve found that allows you play whole songs and create playlists without having to pay a fee or listen to ads. You don’t even have to register to get this functionality. Even when you search for fairly obscure stuff (eg the other week I was look for albums by The Fall from the late 80s) or stuff that has only just been released you generally find it. Awesome service – and I’m glad to hear it’s legal – I’d been too afraid to try and find out!

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