Slacker Premium Goes Live: 8 Million Tracks on Demand, 10 Bucks a Month

Amazon and Google’s cloud music services are getting all the attention, but what about those of us who don’t want to spend hours uploading our tracks? And what about music lovers who stopped buying new music once they got hooked on Internet radio? (That’s me, buy the way). Slacker hopes to fill the void with Slacker Premium Radio, a new tier that sits above the $4.99 Slacker Plus service. In addition to unlimited skips, no ads, and the ability to cache stations for offline listening, you can now get on-demand access to 8 million tracks and create playlists on the fly.

The cost: $9.99 per month. Slacker Premium is available via updated apps for Android, iPad, iPhone, and BlackBerry. Read on for more details and our hands-on impressions.

Slacker Premium users can dive into the 150+ expert programmed genre stations, and see what songs and artists are on the playlists. You can then listen to specific tracks on demand or create stations on the spot based on the artists you like. If you’re really into a specific band, you can create artists that will only play tracks from them–at least until you get sick of it.

Unlike Rhapsody, MOG, Pandora, and other competitors, Slacker is touting its ease of discovery. Yes, you can hunt for music using a search box, but chances are you won’t have to. We tried out the new Android app and liked being able to drill down into the top 50 songs in the Alternative Hits station. From there we could play specific songs, remove them, or save as a favorite. Bonus: Slacker Premium automatically creates a dedicated Favorites Songs station, ready for playback anytime.

Own an iPad? You’ll love Slacker’s first iPad app. The company says that it took its time bringing the app to market so that it could encourage users to discover music more through the radio experience as opposed to relying on the search box. Based on our brief hands-on with that app, we think they’ve succeeded.

Of course, $9.99 per month isn’t cheap, and you don’t actually own the content. Some might prefer Rhapsody, which gives you unlimited subscription downloads for $15 (and the option for purchases). But Slacker Premium will satisfy Internet radio fans who are looking for more control and unfettered access to music.

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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