Whether you're into Beethoven or the Beastie Boys, there's one thing all music lovers can agree on: Nothing sounds better than free music! Paying for online streaming music is as outdated as your mother's dust covered vinyl collection sitting in the attic.

If you have a computer and an Internet connection, then you can access free online music by signing up for the music program Spotify. For all you moralists and law-abiding sticklers out there, don't worry your pretty little heads; it is completely legal in the U.S. Here's everything you need to know about the new and free online music program Spotify:

The Good

Download the Spotify desktop client to your computer (you'll need Windows, MAC OS X or LINUX) by visiting their website. To set up a new account, you need to register through facebook.  If you don't have a facebook account and don't want one, you can always register for a dummy facebook account with an alias. Once you’ve registered, you can search its catalogue of approximately 15 million songs to create your own playlists. Every time you sign on to Spotify, your personal playlists will appear.  It's as easy as signing into your email account!

Another great thing about Spotify is that it makes music social. Since your account is integrated with your facebook, your facebook timeline automatically updates when you listen to a song on Spotify. Then your facebook friends can click on that track name and listen to what you listened to.  It's a great way to share your love of music and learn about new music. If you'd rather keep it private, then simply switch into Spotify's private listening mode.

The Bad

Unlike your iTunes library of purchased music, your Spotify music library only exists in an Internet cloud, not on your hard drive. As such, you can't listen to your music if you're not connected to the Internet.  Also, you can't transfer your Spotify music to your mp3 player or burn it to a CD.  On the free version of Spotify, there are occasional audio commercials that interrupt your music and some pop-up and sidebar advertisements. I barely notice them, but they may annoy you.

While Spotify boasts an impressive music catalogue, its catalogue is not as extensive as the iTunes music library. There are some artists who have exclusive contracts with iTunes or have not agreed to be part of the Spotify library. According to Spotify, the most commonly requested artists that are not available are: The Beatles, Metallica, Pink Floyd, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin.

Also, there's always the possibility that Spotify will shut down or malfunction, and you will lose your carefully crafted playlists of all your favorite tunes. If you're paranoid, you can always copy and paste the names of the artists and tracks in your playlists into a word processing document to have a backup containing this information.

The Upgrade Option

If you upgrade your basic account to Premium, then you get advertisement-free streaming music, slightly better sound quality, and the ability to stream your  music on your iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or Symbian. Spotify Premium also offers an "offline mode" where you can access your music without an Internet connection. It will cost you $9.99 a month, but you can get a free 30-day trial. Be warned that signing up for the premium service will automatically initiate a recurring monthly payment, but you can cancel immediately after signing up and still get your free 30-day trial.

Alternatives to Spotify

There are several great alternatives to Spotify out there on the Web. Music lovers also sing the praises of Grooveshark, Pandora, and Rhapsody.

Sign up for one of these programs today, and you'll soon be tapping your feet and strumming your fingers to the sweet sounds of free music!

This has been a guest post by Lisa from Miami, FL
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