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5 music streaming platform alternatives that go beyond the ‘Big Four’

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5 Streaming Services That Are Making A Big Impact

When it comes to millennials, owning things seems to be a concept of the past. Whether the point of contention is the money it costs, the memory it uses up, or the mere permanence of it, purchasing things seems unnecessary in a world that now allows for instant repeat access anytime and anywhere. Such is the appeal of streaming services when it comes to digital media, and as the phenomenon edges out the music industry’s current revenue model, so continues the rise of ever more music streaming platforms. Most recently, the hype has centered around Apple Music.

Everybody knows the big streaming players: Google Play, Spotify, TIDAL, Soundcloud, and the list goes on. But they aren’t the only options. Here are some unique alternative platforms that offer a little something different in regards to the streaming experience.

1. Setmine

Setmine is based on a concept similar to that of the late app Grooveshark that found its demise in copyright and licensing issues. . Thankfully, Setmine’s developers learned the lesson, and the app centers around allowing users to relive events by streaming sets from festival, club and event performances. In addition to featuring an upcoming event calendar with ticket links, what really makes it different from platforms like Mixcloud is that it allows users to listen to individual tracks as well. All you have to do is search a track by name or artist, and Setmine will search through its expansive set database to find that track and any remixes of it. It’ll then take you specifically to the point of a set at which that track is played. Additionally, it also eliminates the need for identifying that ID track in your set — Setmine will ID them for you, so that you always have a track list handy.  Created and developed by a group of college students from the University of Southern California and the University of Florida, the app approaches revenue stream differently. Rather than charging the user for premium services or ad-free listening, Setmine makes 100% of its revenue through cross-promotion deals between artists and third parties. Imagine a hypothetical deal between Carnage, Chipotle, and Setmine. Carnage posts an exclusive download and meal discount that fans can unlock using the app’s Bluetooth functionality by walking into the nearest Chipotle. The fan gets a discount on his or her purchase and exclusive new material from Carnage, while Chipotle gets additional foot traffic. Carnage and Setmine then split the profits 50/50. Sounds like a triple win to us.

2. Hype Machine

Created by Anthony Volodkin in 2005, Hype Machine has long been a fan favorite for its powerful aggregation capabilities when it comes to scouring the web for new music. When your search base is comprised of over 800 music blogs, you can safely call yourself one of the most musically informed kids on the streaming block. It may not have the sleekest or most modern desktop interface, but we like its search filters (you can search blogs by country, in addition to name) and it’s music categories (‘Freshest’, ‘Remixes Only’, ‘No Remixes’, etc.). A partnership with Soundcloud in 2010 improved HypeM even further, granting it access to new tracks pre-release. Instead of charging users for access, the platform makes most of its money through links to purchase songs via iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic.

3. Google Play Music

Google Play Music is a streaming platform that used to charge $9.99/month, similar to Spotify and Tidal. It now offers service to users for free, which means more users and a heavier pull in the streaming world. Its massive user base may just place it as #1 competition against Apple Music and Tidal, and its recent purchase of Songza has vastly expanded its musical database. In terms of revenue, Google Play Music is basically an ad-supported version of Play Music. Additionally, it also acts as a locker service, allowing users to download music files straight from Google Play.

4. 8tracks

8tracks is a streaming service that focuses on user-created playlists, a-la Spotify. By giving the control completely to the users, the platform allows for a more customized experience. Users can search and sort music by genre, sub-genre, and even sub-sub-genre, as well as emotional themes such as ‘turnt,’ ‘chill’ and ‘angry.’ There are playlists curated for specific activities, like cardio and getting ready, and also playlists dedicated to specific stereotypes, like ‘Gym Rat.’ Another cool thing about 8tracks is its social networking feature, which reflects the same model of what Apple Music is attempting to build out. Users can customize their profile and view mix analytics as added features. While it does offer an optional premium service for $25, 8tracks makes a majority of its revenue through ads. It works on iPhones, Androids, Windows, and even X-Box 360, so you can listen anywhere, and anytime.

5. plug.dj

Unlike all the other streaming platforms we’ve mentioned, plug.dj does not function off a music catalogue or a mobile app. The platform was incepted after the fall of turntable.fm. With it’s video-game-inspired aesthetic, it is a platform that builds off of what turntable.fm left behind, with several added features. Users are invited to create or join “rooms” where they can take turns curating content that is streamed to other users in the room. The content comes from a large database of users, YouTube videos, and other web-based music sources. Users can influence the DJ by up-voting or down-voting songs in each room. It also boasts customization features that are on-par with many social media platforms. plug.dj offers an optional $3/month premium membership that allows users to unlock special features but also offers app “currency” for users to “buy” content. The social aspect of plug.dj is what really sets it apart from others — there’s no where else on the web where you can get a confidence boost as your “room” begins to fill up with listeners.