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Streaming for a good beat that’s to your taste

Spotify

Spotify

Remember the radio? It was the best way to hear new music when I was a boy.

My friends and I would listen to the songs that made the weekly charts, and we’d talk about the great tracks and the terrible tracks at school the next day.

Continue reading below

Since then, the music landscape has undergone a sea change. Still, discovering music in a similar way is possible via the latest and fast-evolving trend in digital music: streaming.

Spotify

Free on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8

Perhaps the best-known streaming music app is Spotify. This app lets you listen to any of your favorite tracks at will, and it is a digital radio that streams new music.

Its interface is simple, bordering on spartan: It has a main screen where you control the music you are hearing, and a menu screen that lets you access sections of the app and adjust settings.

To listen to a track you simply choose “Search” and type the artist’s name or a word from the track’s title.

Spotify then lists the results by artist, album, and song title.

A more interesting way to use the app, however, is to select the “Discover” option.

This reveals a long graphics-heavy list containing all sorts of music.

Some of this will be familiar. (Right now, my app is telling me, “You’ve been listening to a lot of Daft Punk lately,” and recommends one of their albums.)

Some of it will be new. These tracks include new releases and music that is popular or is being listened to by nearby Spotify users.

There is also a “Radio” option that has “stations” that stream either a particular band’s music or genres of your choice, from Alternative to Trance.

The Spotify app has straightforward controls and will show you album art and even band biographies.

Spotify has changed how I listen to music. But while the app is free, using it may cost you.

In the United States, you can listen to the app’s radio stations free, but to listen to specific tracks you’ll have to subscribe for $10 a month.

Rhapsody

Free on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8

For a different experience, you might try Rhapsody (which in some places overseas goes under the Napster brand).

As in Spotify, you can search for music you want to hear or discover new music through a few routes.

For example, the Browse section breaks music into genres; inside each genre’s page you can choose from new releases or popular tracks.

Alternatively, you can find new music through Rhapsody’s home page, which offers access to featured music, new releases, and popular tracks.

There are also Playlists, which are a little like Spotify’s stations. These lists have a regularly updated selection of music that will stream to you. There are extras like album reviews, so you can learn more about the artist you’re listening to.

Rhapsody’s interface is graphically richer and feels easier to navigate than Spotify’s, thanks to features like its ever-present icon bar. But you may find that Rhapsody’s graphics and many settings get in the way of your listening experience.

It’s free , but you’ll have to pay $10 a month for unlimited music streaming.

SoundCloud

Free on iOS and Android

Finally, there’s SoundCloud, which offers a different kind of streaming music.

Whereas Spotify is like having radio on your phone, SoundCloud is more about hearing new music shared by indie artists via a social network.

It has a wonderfully simple interface and it’s fun to use — you can upload your own music and share that, too.

Just don’t expect to find mainstream rock bands on this app.

Kit Eaton writes on technology for The New York Times.
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