Undoubtedly someone has asked you, “Where can I listen to free music on a public computer?” Playing downloaded music is not always easy or allowed on public library computers. Streaming is an easier option for listening to music or radio programs online.

What is streaming? It’s sort of like radio – just tune into music that is already playing on the Internet. Unlike radio, there are billions of stations to choose from and anyone can pick the tunes! Here are a couple of popular music streaming spots.

Radio:Last.fm|Pandora|Accuradio | Live365|WPLN

Last.fm runs its recommendations based on how their listeners label the music. They track songs heard over time, then alter their personal radio station accordingly. Last.fm is also a social network that lets music fans discover new music by seeing what other users are listening to. You can listen to your friend’s radio stations and share recommendations.

Tell Pandora who you like and they will play music similar to it. This site works with Seattle’s music genome project to analyze songs’ actual sounds to identify similar songs. So, if you tell Pandora you like Bell Biv Devoe, it will play them, plus Bobby Brown, Tony Toni Tone, and Keith Sweat. You get the idea.

Independent Internet Radio streaming sites Accuradio and Live365 offer a more conventional selection of Country, Gospel or Pop radio stations broadcasting over the web. DJs pick the songs, not you.

Terrestrial radio stations like WPLN use streaming to air their programs online.

Search: Seeqpod | Songza | SkreemR | The Hype Machine

Billie Jean Maybe you need to hear “Billie Jean” right now? Use a music search app like Songza to listen to single tracks. Enter a song title or artist, and a search may find it somewhere on the Internet. Then, it will play the song for you. No downloading or software, just streaming. The versions are not high quality, just whatever mp3 someone has posted on their blog. Search is a good way to preview entire new songs or find alternate recordings. Downloading is another topic that comes up often with music. We will discuss that in an upcoming post.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
1. Visit one of the music streaming web sites.
2. Play a song.
3. Take the Survey.

Special note: the library’s departmental rules talk about acceptable use of radio and television in times of emergency or breaking news of significance. Let’s assume that prolonged listening to streaming audio and video can be treated in the same way. Besides, we are having a bandwidth crisis right now. In other words, learn the technology, try it out—but avoid streaming recreational audio or video on your PC while you’re working.