Music streaming in the UK: Some online services compared

Pandora1

It’s not possible to access Pandora, the music streaming service, outside the US unless you use a proxy server to connect anonymously. At least, that was what I thought until I read a post last week saying that it was possible to access Pandora outside the US after installing and enabling a browser extension called HTTPS Enforcer. Sure enough, it works and I can now access Pandora in the UK. Great… but is it worth it? Would it have the songs I want to listen to. Well, in short, no. Here’s what I found.

Up to the present time, I’ve been using Grooveshark as it has good coverage of the genres I’m interested in: folk, Celtic fusion, and electronic among others. I hadn’t tried Spotify so I decided to sign up for the free version so I could compare Pandora, Grooveshark and Spotify. Didn’t like how new users need a Facebook account to register for Spotify.  Anyway, I picked out four artists I really like and compared the availability of music across the three of them. Skerryvore and Peatbog Faeries, Scottish bands that play Scottish music with a modern slant,  Planet Boelex, electronic music and Transatlantic Sessions, produced by BBC/RTE, an annual gathering in Scotland of some of the top folk musicians from both sides of the Atlantic.

At the time of writing this, Pandora drew a complete blank on all of these artists, while Grooveshark offered 4 tracks from Skerryvore, 49 tracks from Peatbog Faeries, 56 tracks from Planet Boelex and 13 tracks from Transatlantic Sessions. Spotify had 39 tracks from Skerryvore, 79 tracks from Peatbog Faeries, 34 tracks from Planet Boelex but no tracks from the BBC/RTE produced Transatlantic Sessions.

So, it looks like, perhaps not surprisingly, Pandora catering for an exclusively US audience doesn’t have much to offer me in the way of ‘non-mainstream’ music. No matter, both Grooveshark and Spotify are great alternatives. I should also mention Freemake Music Box, a free download for Windows, which does have a good selection for me – 60 tracks from Skerryvore, 119 tracks from Peatbog Faeries, 113 tracks from Planet Boelex and 9 tracks from Transatlantic Sessions. However, I did find that most of their music was pulled from YouTube with a lot of live stuff rather than studio recorded music.

I have read good reports about Songza, but like Pandora, it’s only available in the US and the HTTPS Enforcer plugin didn’t help to get around that. Rdio also isn’t available in the UK yet.

Finally, if you’re interested in checking out some of my favourites, have a listen to some of these:

Skerryvore: Wit’s End and Angry Fiddler

Peatbog Faeries: The Folk Police

Planet Boelex: Sisumies

Transatlantic Sessions: Waiting for the Federals

Let me know what you think. And what’s your music streaming service of choice?

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