Downloading music is now a thing of the past. This inconvenience has gone the way of cassette tapes and CDs; eradicated and virtually extinct. The streaming age is officially here. We all have access to a cellular plan or a smidgen of Wi-Fi. Heck, I even found decent Wi-Fi in Cuba last year. Cable companies offer free public Wi-Fi with service and many public schools provide it to their students. And if a hotel tries to charge for Wi-Fi, I won’t stay there. If for some reason the Internet access in your area is not up to Cuba’s standards, you should consider moving. Now that’s out of the way, let’s get to the best ways to listen to hard rock and heavy metal music online.
What are the best free (or sort of free) streaming apps and websites?
This video juggernaut is the obvious choice for the best site to stream metal. You can find any song at any time on demand. Ideally, you are streaming from the band’s or label’s official YouTube page—this is free and free from any legal complications. You will have to listen to the occasional advertisement as with any free streaming method. YouTube allows you the freedom to make and save playlists of your favorite songs. When streaming a song on YouTube, you have the added bonus of watching the official music video or lyric video. Finally, there is an endless assortment of live performances uploaded from people’s smart phones. That’s right, people spend hundreds of dollars on concert tickets to attend and watch the entire concert through their cell phones’ 5-inch screens at the concert. Well their stupidity is our gain.
Spotify’s free streaming service carries most of the metal bands that I like to hear while in the shower. You cannot pick the exact song you want in a given moment, but you get 30 minutes of shuffled album action between ads. Spotify’s recommendations are also pretty solid.
Pandora was one of the first streaming venues to get me hooked about 10 years ago. Similar to Spotify, you hear an ad then hear your favorite bands or genre. I have gotten ready for work hundreds of mornings to the Motley Crue station. The ads feel more frequent than Spotify and there is less freedom of choice, but sometimes I just want to hear Pandora’s 80s Pop station while cooking dinner.
#4. Amazon Music
Why is Amazon Music so low on the list? Because it’s not really as free as the three higher picks. Amazon Music is included with your Prime subscription. As long as you have Prime, you have an excellent streaming option. They offer many great metal albums that I want to hear, but those albums can be removed from the service at any time. Amazon Music is the Netflix of music streaming.
iHeartRadio is great for listening to real radio stations regardless of where you live. It’s cool to stream Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx from New York, or any rock station for that matter since New York does not supply any hard rock radio options. You can also pull up a band’s station Pandora style. “Lola Montez” is is ripping up my Volbeat station on the iHeartRadio app as I write this.
Free Music Sucks, I Want to Pay to Stream
All of the big internet-based music streaming sites offer some sort of pay option or premium plan. If you want a huge hard rock and heavy metal catalog with on demand streaming, then Spotify Premium is my favorite pick. Spotify is also great for finding new bands and albums. They keep you up-to-snuff on the latest releases that fit your interests. It’s $9.99 per month for the premium plan and the only premium plan that I consistently keep alive. I’ve also tried Amazon Music Unlimited, which has a ton of metal, but found the bands’ album catalogs to be weaker than Spotify.
Apple Music and Tidal are other pay-to-stream music options. Apple Music combines your iTunes library with music that you do not own. I haven’t really dabbled much here nor do I really care to. I find the Apple Music app to be less user-friendly than the competitors. Finally, Tidal is not very metal to me. This is the service that has those exclusivity agreements with Queen Bey and Kanye.
There are many other streaming options out there. The ones I mentioned above have been useful to me for many years. What’s your go-to metal streaming source?