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A Guide To 10 Of The Most Popular Online Music Streaming Services For Malaysians To Enjoy

In the 11th instalment of our weekly TECH TUESDAY column, the SAYS Content Team has compiled a quick guide to sum up the best and most reliable online streaming music options that are available for Malaysian users.

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1. 8tracks: Recognised on Time magazine's 2011 incarnation of its "50 Best Websites" List, 8tracks allows users to share and discover music in a simple, legal, and free way. Availability: Everywhere.

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If you're unfamiliar with 8tracks, the service allows you to create a social playlist of songs with 8 or more songs, pulled and organized from their huge database of tracks. Music reviewers like Pitchfork, Spin, and Rolling Stone contribute playlists, and the service promises a social music discovery experience that lets you discover music that real people think works together, as opposed to an algorithm.

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Users create free accounts and can either browse the site and listen to other user-created mixes, and/or they can create their own mixes. The site also has a subscription-based service, 8 tracks plus, although its features are still evolving. Currently, a $25 payment purchases a 6-month subscription, during which time advertisements are removed from the website interface while subscribers are logged in. Specific DJ-focused features are in the works, but will likely include profile customization, mix analytics, and unlimited uploads.

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If you are a classical music lover, 8tracks.com offers many great playlists. They are perfect for inspiration and/or background for study. Though not strictly for work purposes, sometimes trying to work in the quiet makes one want to go crazy. This free app offers millions of playlists, put together by its many users. Simply type in “work,” a genre of music, etc. and search the various playlists. It takes away the hassle of getting distracted by picking out music while working.

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2. Deezer: Allows users to listen to music on various devices online or offline, it currently has 30 million licensed tracks in its library with over 30,000 radio channels. Availability: Almost worldwide.

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Deezer is now available in Malaysia all thanks to DiGi and its partnership with the global music streaming service created in Paris, France. As part of the deal, DiGi customers with selected Internet data plans are now able to enjoy Deezer Premium+ services without any charges for at least 3 months.

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It's available in an impressive 182 countries, more than three times the number of countries in which you'll find Spotify. It offers a huge library, good platform support, impressive recommendation buttons and good social sharing links. The overall interface, across desktop and mobile, is very slick. Social features on Deezer are a big part of the service, and you’re able to find friends on the service by linking up your Twitter, Facebook and Google + accounts. You are also able to search manually to find people, but that’s a lengthy process and hooking up your social networks is a much quicker, easier method.

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The Deezer Premium+ service allow users unlimited access to around 20 million tracks in Deezer’s catalog without any advertisement through up to three smart devices in addition to their PC. Additionally, the Deezer Premium+ subscribers are also able to enjoy their music while being offline. To check if one is eligible for the free subscription, just point the Internet browser in his or her smartphone to deezer.digi.com.my while connected to DiGi’s mobile data network.

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3. Grooveshark: A search engine equipped music streaming service, it lets users stream and upload music that can be played immediately. Availability: Everywhere but Denmark and Germany.

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Launched in 2006, Grooveshark is arguably the black sheep of the bunch if you factor turbulent relations with publishers into the equation: the company, which offers a vast catalog of music through a web interface and Android devices, has been embroiled in legal battles for alleged copyright violations for years (for which Apple eventually kicked it off the App Store, thus it’s not an iOS contender). But on the features front, it’s an interesting amalgam of elements, allowing you to upload your own MP3s, see what friends have been listening to (or subscribe to their playlists) or fiddle with recommendation algorithms derived from users’ ratings of songs.

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Without even creating an account, you can start queuing up tracks in a playlist – although to save a playlist you’ll need to at least create a free account – simply by searching. If, when you get to the end of the list you’ve created (or before that point, in fact), you run out of tracks, there’s the option to start a radio station based on the tracks you’ve been listening to. Handily, if the station then throws up some unknown tracks that you rather like, then you can choose to save the whole tracklist to a new or existing playlist.

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4. Spotify: Arguably the best known streamer of the bunch in the subscription on-demand space for its meteoric rise in recent years, Spotify offers high fidelity streaming. Availability: Almost worldwide.

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Spotify is one of the best-known music services available, and as such it has a 20 million strong catalogue of tracks available to listen to – it also means there’s a thriving hub of third-party apps too, like the BBC’s Playlister service among many other, with which to extend your listening.

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Most people will probably use it to listen to individual artists or bands, to create playlists of tracks or to listen to individual albums. However, there’s also a ‘radio’ option that plays music it deems related to your original artist of choice. In reality, this isn’t the smartest radio out there, so if what you want is automatically created radio stations, there are better options.

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At it’s most basic, access to streaming is free on all platforms – although depending on which device you’re using, you might get either only the option to play music on ‘Shuffle’ mode, and/or the occasional audio ad between tracks. Spotify used to charge for mobile access, so its recent changes for Android and iOS are for the better if it wants to stay competitive with rivals’ offerings.

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5. SoundCloud: A huge repository of music, that also lets you upload your own mixes and tracks, SoundCloud, a favourite of this curator, has grown in popularity and size. Availability: Everywhere.

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Primarily intended platform for people to share their own musical creations and mixes, as it has grown in popularity and size, big artists and labels have also signed up, allowing for some of their music to be available through the platform. It’s been around since 2007, but SoundCloud got a revamp in 2013 that was intended to make it easier to use and attract even more listeners. However, this move also attracted some criticism that it was heading more towards the mainstream, and was less about artists.

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Nonetheless, with a Web player and native mobile apps for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 smartphones and tablets (Android tablet shown below), there’s plenty of ways to listen to tracks on SoundCloud. Like Spotify and Deezer too, there’s also a third-party app ecosystem built around SoundCloud, in which you’ll find more than 100 more apps designed to extend the reach and usefulness of it.

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Five Others Worth Mentioning

Apart from the above stated ones, there are many other music streaming services worth mentioning here. For example, YouTube.

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Yes, YouTube. Google’s free video service happens to be one of the main places where people catch new music, and you can pretty much find any song you want when you search. The downsides are many: No albums, no offline mode—heck, you can’t even turn the screen off on your device to just listen because the video will stop playing. But YouTube remains a key player.

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Each are $9.99-per-month all-you-can-eat streaming services with millions of songs. Microsoft gives users a free taste through Windows 8 and on the Web; Sony offers discounted 6-month and 12-month pricing through GameStop.

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And if you've an ear for variety of music our regional neighbours in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Thailand have to offer, then let KKBOX be the source of music to your brain

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KKBOX is where most of the region’s pop-music stars and hit songs are produced and marketed. It has over 10 million users in the entire Asian market and is the leading digital music subscription services in Asia featuring over 10 million music tracks from more than 500 major and local music labels and publishers.

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Lastly, this list in no way is your ultimate guide to online music streaming services, but we would like to end it with a mention of Nokia's new free MixRadio app for its Lumia Windows Phones

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Nokia has launched a new free ‘MixRadio’ app for its Lumia Windows Phones. This new streaming music service brings you free, personalized music with no advertising. Start listening with Play Me, an ever-changing mix based on the music you love including hundreds of handcrafted mixes, create a mix, gigs, artist notifications, mp3 store and player, and of course the ability to save your favorite mixes for offline playback so you can listen even without an internet connection.

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