The first thing Justin Sharkey, marketing manager at Electronics Design Group, does when he gets to work is press a green icon on his MacBook that pulls up an app that contains about 20 million songs.

The streaming music service Spotify provides music from major and independent record labels, is only one of many options that stream music from the Internet.

“It’s great––I’m not limited to only the music that I have on my computer,” said Sharkey. “If I want to listen to something else, or look for new music, I can just go on Spotify’s catalog and stream away.”

The 6-year-old London-headquartered company allows users to search for specific songs or albums that they want to listen to and add them to personal playlists then stream them from their computers or iOS/Android/Windows devices, and even home entertainment systems.

“Spotify wants to be your number one source for online streaming of audio and video,” said Sharkey. “So I’ll probably end up using their service more often in the future.”

Pandora, Spotify’s biggest competitor, is another streaming music service that allows users to listen to music without having to download it. The big difference? Pandora is modeled after radio and users listen to music by choosing their preferred channels or artists. Then, depending on what the user “likes” or “dislikes,” Pandora populates the customized music channel with artists similar to the user’s preferences.

“Pandora’s great if you don’t like sitting down and creating playlists yourself,” said Sharkey. “They don’t have as much music as Spotify, only about 1 million songs, but how they choose the music based on your likes is pretty impressive.”

Other services like Spotify and Pandora include LastFMSongzaRhapsody, MOG, and Rdio, most of which allow you stream music to any iOS/Android device, as well as home entertainment systems like Sonos.

But if you’re only interested in streaming your personal library to any iOS device, then perhaps iTunes Match is the best choice. In iTunes Match, all the music that you buy in iTunes is automatically added to iCloud and since there are more than 26 million songs in the iTunes Store, chances are your music is already in iCloud. And for those songs that aren’t? They will be automatically uploaded to the cloud.

iTunes Match allows you to stream on any iOS device including Apple TV. Home entertainment systems like Sonos also allows you to stream the music you have in the cloud to the speakers in your house allowing you to enjoy your music in any room.

“What’s great about iTunes Match is that even if the original copy of the song was of a lower quality, the service will still stream out at 256-Kbps AAC, DRM-free,” said Sharkey.  “But if you have more than 25,000 songs that aren’t exclusively from iTunes, you might want another service.”

Whether you’re on-the-go or are just looking for new music, audio streaming services like Spotify and Pandora can make it so much more convenient for you to access the music you like, and discover new ones you might like.

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