Monday Money Saver #3: Free Music

I know it's pretty easy to hear a song you like, and click a couple clicks, pay the $0.99, and download it to your computer. But that adds up really fast. A few songs a week and you're at a couple hundred dollars per year!

But there is a better way - as long as you have an internet connection! The following websites are excellent places to listen to free music - legally.

1. Pandora -

Pandora is a website that uses algorithms to identify similar songs or artists. For example, if you want to play a station full of classic rock, enter in a few artists like Led Zeppelin or the Beatles, and it will populate the station with similar songs and artists. If you want pop circa 2000, "seed" the station with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, or 'N Sync. You can give a song a thumbs up if you want to hear more like it, or a thumbs down if you don't want it played on that station ever again.

I am pretty sure you can create an unlimited number of stations - at least I haven't hit the limit yet. You can create stations for different moods - I have a "spa" station that I like to listen to while doing yoga, a punk rock station I put on when I'm cleaning the apartment, or even a christmas station I like to play while baking cookies.

The only frustrating thing about Pandora is that you can't ask it to play a specific song. The song you like might show up on your station, but you can't control when it plays. Also, if you listen to more than 30 hours of music in a month, you have to pay a $0.99 fee to continue listening. Even with these little frustrations, Pandora is an awesome music playlist. To keep it free, they do run ads occasionally - but not much more frequently than one 15-20 second ad per half hour. I highly recommend Pandora to those people who want to hear new music in a specific genre, but don't want to test out songs by buying them from iTunes or Amazon.

2. - is the answer to Pandora's inability to play a song on demand. While Pandora is good for generating new music that is similar to music you already like, Playlist is good for listening to songs you already know you like. You can search for specific songs or artists, and then add them to your playlist. So if you want a playlist with every Spice Girl song possible, you can create that, and listen to it as many times as you want. Like Pandora, they play ads on the webpage, but they are minimally invasive. Playlist is great if you've got a song stuck in your head and need to listen to it before it drives you nuts.

Now neither of these websites will work unless you are connected to the internet. For that, you will still need to download your music from a place like Amazon or iTunes. But as long as you have an internet connection, these websites will help curb your purchasing habit, and you can share your stations/playlists with friends. The other great thing is that Pandora is available for many mobile phones - it works on my Blackberry and I'm sure it works on the iPhone as well. won't work on phones yet, until they support Flash.

In the meantime, check them out and let me know what you think!


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