Alert
Close

Join the Drive to End Hunger! Watch the NASCAR race on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

AARP The Magazine

The New Golden Age of Radio

Music lovers enjoy a multitude of choices from digital streaming to vinyl albums

Mature man listening to music outdoors (Getty Images/Hero Images)

Online streaming services allow you to create your own radio stations. — Getty Images/Hero Images

En español | Listening to music today can be complicated. "The keyword is 'choice,' " says media analyst Mark Ramsey. "There's so much to discover." Increasingly, listeners find new music via streaming services that allow you, in essence, to create your own radio stations. And digital-download sales now dwarf those of physical formats like CDs. But no, vinyl isn't dead yet.

Streaming

Pandora

Cost: Free with ads, or $36 a year

Number of songs: 1 million-plus

Good for … if you aren't sure what you'd like to listen to. Pandora learns your musical preferences and creates custom radio stations.

Stay in the Know on the Go: Get the New AARP ePubs iPad App!

iTunes Radio

Cost: Free with ads, or $24.99 a year with a subscription to iTunes Match

Number of songs: 27 million

Good for … a Pandora-like streaming experience that's built into the newest versions of iTunes.

Spotify

Cost: Free with ads, or $4.99 to $9.99 a month

Number of songs: 20 million-plus

Good for … sharing music and finding out what your Facebook friends have been listening to.

Rdio

Cost: $4.99 to $17.99 a month

Number of songs: 20 million-plus

Good for … a digital replacement for your old record collection. Rdio lets you play complete albums, and its design emphasizes cover art.

iHeartRadio

Cost: Free

Number of songs: 15 million-plus

Good for … listening to 1,500 Clear Channel Broadcasting and other stations around the country.

Non-streaming

SiriusXM Satellite Radio

Cost: $199.99 a year

Good for … commuters who spend a lot of time in their vehicles. About 6 in 10 new cars are now equipped with satellite-radio receivers, which carry a blend of talk stations and ad-free music stations.

CDs

Cost: About $13 each

Good for … late adopters. Most CD buyers are 35 or older. About 193 million CDs were sold in 2012, a 13.5 percent drop from 2011. Album sales in all media hit an all-time low the week ending Sept. 15, with 4.54 million units sold.

Vinyl

Cost: About $23 each

Good for … audiophiles who prefer the sound quality of analog. LPs are still a fraction of the music market, but sales have been climbing for the past seven years, with a big 17.7 percent jump in 2012. And LP turntable sales rose 50 percent.

Digital Downloads

Cost: 69 cents to $1.29 per track

Good for … those who insist on "owning" what they listen to. Paid downloads from Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and other virtual record stores increased by 14.1 percent in 2012 and now account for 35 percent of all album sales.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

1-800flowers.com (1-800flowers.com)

Members save 20% or $20 on purchases of $79.99  from
Fruitbouquets.com.

Collette Vacations

Members save up to $200 per couple on select tours with Collette Vacations.

Live Nation

Members save 25% or more when buying tickets in groups of four from Ticketmaster.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points