The Best Ways To Hear Your Jams Without Spending Lots Of Clams

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Earbuds

What’s powering your earbuds?

There’s no better place to listen to music than on a college campus. Whether that means pumping jams while you work out, firing up some party music, or settling into some studying tunes, it seems like everyone has earbuds or headphones on.

As a result, it feels like music is a necessity for any college student. Fortunately, it’s easy to buy. Perhaps too easy.

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Music may be one of the most effortless ways to spend a ton of money without realizing it. One click or tap leads to another, and before long, you’ve bought a handful of albums—and spent more than you should have.

Luckily, we live in the digital age, which offers tons of cost-saving musical avenues. (No, this doesn’t mean you should illegally download your favorite artists’ work. Not only is that against the law, but a lot of schools also monitor large downloads on their networks and will bust you.)

I’m speaking more specifically about the various services available online and on your mobile device. I’ve paid for every song, and I’ve acquired music in some other … less respectable ways. Neither totally felt like the right avenue for me to find new artists or keep up to date with the ones I love.

With a cavalcade of newer services, I found myself curious as to what my options are. I did some research and now bring you a rundown of the features that the major services provides, so you can get the most bang for your buck.

Pandora

You’re probably familiar with Pandora’s free service. Using a series of algorithms, Pandora creates custom radio stations made just for you—and you may or may not like their choices. If it’s the latter, you can unfortunately only skip so many songs.

Upgrading to Pandora One will cost you $4.99 each month, and this comes with a few perks. Annoying ads are gone and are replaced by clearer audio and some customization. Pandora One still comes with limited amount of skipping, however, due to certain musical legal restrictions.

Rhapsody

If you’re fine with the radio style that Pandora offers, Rhapsody may be an even more attractive option. They too offer a $4.99 monthly service, called Unradio. It comes ad-free and features a few more cool options.

Specifically, it allows you to save 25 favorite songs to listen to at any time (even offline), skip all the songs you want, and start with a 14-day free trial.

For $5 extra, you can join Rhapsody Premier. This comes with all of the features of Unradio, plus 30 million songs to download and listen to whenever you want. For full control of your music, that’s a pretty great deal.

Spotify

My favorite, for a variety of reasons.

Spotify offers the most extensive free service. This includes the custom radio option, but also a few others: You can listen to your favorite artists or personal playlists anytime, anywhere, as long as you listen on shuffle. You can’t listen to any song you want, but for absolutely free, you can have more control than Rhapsody or Pandora’s paid services. You’ll still hear the occasional ad, but that seems like a fair trade to me.

For $10 every month, you can listen to any song at any time in any place. Not to mention, your first month is free. I’ve been using Spotify’s free services a lot lately, and I’m really considering springing for the premium.

A La Carte

Maybe you don’t want new music or shuffles or radio stations. No problem.

If you like the music you’ve got and don’t foresee buying more that $10 of new music every month, iTunes and its competitors are still your best option. Why pay for every song ever if you only want the ones you’ll actually listen to?

When it comes to your music, choose whatever service fits your needs. You might call that moving to the beat of your own drum.

Which music service do you use? Tell us why in the comments.

(Photo: The Javorac)

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