How to Stream Music at Parties

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It’s 75 degrees here in New York today, so it’s practically August. You know what that means? Social gatherings! Oftentimes with alcohol. And barbecue. And, you know, actual people.

And we all know no party is complete without some sort of music playing in the background. Sure, you could always play music directly from your iTunes, but then you’d be subjecting your precious library to scrutiny from every boozy-breathed guest that wanders by your Macbook.

To avoid such awkwardness, here are a few recommended options for streaming music at your next house party. (There’s always Pandora and, too, but you already knew that.)

Clean and incredibly user-friendly, 8tracks is a social music service similar to the now-defunct (but unequivocally brilliant) Muxtape. In eight track increments, users can upload and publish their own playlists, or easily browse the curated channels of other users. Believing that “handcrafted music programming trumps algorithms,” the company even released their iPhone app today that users can access through the App Store. The only downside is that 8tracks takes some configuring ahead of time, and playlists are limited to a maximum of two appearances by any given artists (That means “Firework” and “Teenage Dream,” but no “California Gurlz”). This leaves little wiggle room for requests on the fly, but all in all, it’s one of the better music sharing sites out there.

Vupas takes advantage of music videos posted on YouTube by doing something counter-intuitive: Shedding the video part. What’s left are audio-only playlists that you can manage with a single, super easy click. It’s user-friendly to the tenth degree, and great for playing songs directly from the cloud (i.e. no actual downloading). The only downside is that since it scrapes music from YouTube, once in awhile your search results will come across videos that no longer exist.

For ultimate indie cred, SoundCloud is the new MySpace (at least in terms of social music sharing). For users, you can arrange selected tracks into “Sets,” or “Favorite” a couple of key ones to play back to back. The downside is that there aren’t a whole lot of major music acts (most SoundCloud users trend towards electronic music), but if you’re inclined to nifty interfaces and cool points, SoundCloud makes a solid choice.

The Hype Machine
The Hype Machine puts the entirety of the blogosphere at your disposal, allowing you to stream MP3s directly from the gazillions of music blogs out there. Not sure what to play? The “Popular” tab at the top takes you to a freshly-updated list of what the Internet democratically deems popular. You’ll have to register in order to avoid a song listening limit, but other than that, there’s the whole wide Web at your inner-DJ’s disposal. The only other downside is that most of the music featured on Hype Machine is of the electro/dubstep/dance variety, which may prove to be too loud for some (including myself).

Despite having its application yanked from the Android Store (Apple pulled it from theirs last July), the music search engine Grooveshark is still a great choice for sifting through music from the cloud. In addition to a “Popular” tab (like Hype Machine) and single click playlist updates (like Vupas), Grooveshark also utilizes streaming radio channels similarly to Pandora and It’s a great choice, though with all its legal woes, there’s no telling how much longer the current incarnation of Grooveshark will be accessible.

Any other innovative ways to stream music? Let us know down below.

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