Online Music Service Review: Yahoo LaunchCast Vs Live365

In the mood to listen to your favorite hits, while discovering a few tracks yet to hit the scene? There are plenty of opportunities to explore the world of Internet radio, but in my book, there are two that stick out: Yahoo LaunchCast and Live365. Both offer free, as well as paid subscription services.

What They Offer:

Yahoo offers free Internet radio, music news and music videos. Yahoo! ID required, which is also free. For a small monthly fee, subscribers can enjoy unlimited access to more than a million full-length songs under the Yahoo! Music Unlimited plan. The plan allows you to save and play your songs for only $5 per month. Commercial-free radio stations are also offered through the LaunchCast Plus subscription.

Attracting more than 4 million worldwide listeners per month, Live365 is considered one of the largest Internet radio networks. This website also allows you to harness the power of music by giving you the chance to create and broadcast your own Internet radio station.

The Music:

There are about 200 genres of music to choose from, including Americana, Classic Soul, Indie Rock, Funk, Tejano and Doo Wop. Keep in mind that some of these stations, such as Punk Rock and Disco are only available to LaunchCast Plus subscribers.

There are more than 260 genres to choose from, including Pop-Reggae, World Fusion, the 30s, Dirty South, Latin Rap, Halloween and Rap Metal. Keep in mind that some of your favorite radio stations may be added to the VIP Subscribers list at any time and without warning.

The Website:

The website is inviting with occasional color scheme changes depending on particular sponsors. For example, when Saturn included an interactive advertisement on the LaunchCast homepage, the rest of the site utilized a corresponding black and red color scheme. Overall, the site is fresh and fun, offering a variety of easily navigable music-related content.

The website is a disappointing arrangement of green and white that does nothing for the imagination. Occasional musician banner ads may greet you at the start of your musical journey, but the blandness is mind-boggling. Thank God, you come for the music selection.

The Music Players:

After you have clicked on a particular music station, the media player will appear. A commercial will run before you hear the first song. If you like, listen, but if you don’t, you can choose another station or press the fast-forward button that will take you to the next song.

The free player includes:
1) Fast Forward Button (limited uses)
2) Pause Button (operational after 30 seconds)
3) Length of Song with Time Lapse
4) Artist Name, Song Title, Album Title and Date of Release
5) Volume Control

When you have chosen a music station to listen to, click on the title and its homepage will load. The name of the DJ, location of the radio station and additional details are available. If you are still interested, an easily identifiable “Play” button should be clicked. The media player pops up. Your station plays after a sponsor ad has run.

The free player includes:
1) Artist Name, Song Title, Album Title, Length of Song
2) The last two items played, as well as the current musical selection.
3) Play, Stop and Mute Button
4) Volume Control
5) Link to purchase the music.
6) An option to add a particular station to your “favorites” list.

Positive Points:

With LaunchCast, not only do you get to listen to new music, but you also get to view your favorite music videos. Although you have to sit through a commercial ranging 7 to 60 seconds, you will ultimately get to stare into the eyes of your favorite singer or band in no time. The good part about this is you can watch the same video as many times as you wish. The site also provides a convenient top 100 videos list to check out, as well as an opportunity to create your own personal favorites list, as well as most recently viewed selections. Although limited, the fast forward button is a nice addition to the media player for those songs you can’t bear to sit through.

For non-paying listeners, the stations usually play a lengthy stretch of music before inserting a commercial. The selection of music stations is really impressive, accommodating any craving for the new and old stuff. Unlike Yahoo!, Live365 also reveals the last couple of songs and current song on the main page of each radio station. There is also easy navigation between your favorite stations. In a matter of seconds, you can find out what is playing on all of your favorite stations without the hassle of tedious connection and loading.

Negative Points:

Sometimes, the frequency of commercials can appear at an irritating rate when listening to a radio station. The music streaming also stops after listening to a station for a long period of time. You have to click on a link to resume, which can happen several times in one sitting. As for the videos, sometimes after choosing your selection and sitting through a commercial, the video of your choice does not play, which can be a bit annoying.

Find a station you like, add it to your presets and if you play it often enough, you will one day find yourself quite disappointed when they place a “VIP Members Only” tag on it. This has happened more than once to me, but I refuse to be forced into paying for a subscription.

Price for Paid Membership:

LaunchCast Plus (commercial free):
$2.99 per month (billed 34.99 annually)
$3.99 per month (billed monthly)
Yahoo! Music Unlimited (*downloading music):
$4.99 per month (billed in one payment of $59.88)
$6.99 per month (billed month-to-month)
*To keep the music you load onto your computer for as long as you wish, subscribers are charged 79�¢ per song.

$3.65 per month (billed $87.60 every 24 months)
$3.95 per month (billed $47.40 every 12 months)
$4.45 per month (billed $26.70 every 6 months)
$4.95 per month (billed $14.85 every 3 months
$5.95 per month (billed $5.95 every month)

Free Trial Offer for Paid Subscriptions:

LaunchCast Plus (commercial free): 7 days
Yahoo! Music Unlimited: 7 days

Preferred Membership Packages: 5 days

Overall Assessment: As far as these music services are concerned, you have to ask yourself: am I more interested in the “listen, create and learn” Live365 site or the “listen, look and burn” Yahoo! music service? Live365’s strongest suit is the impressive selection of available radio stations, representing a wide-range of musical tastes. Yahoo! offers great multimedia entertainment options with their radio stations and music videos.

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