Playing your music across the border
Last.fm radio stations and Grooveshark on demand streaming are cool additions to the mp3s on your memory card, but unfortunately music streaming services often come with geographic restrictions that ignore the basics of the world wide web.
For example, Grooveshark doesn't like germans. If you have a german IP address it won't sing for you. And Grooveshark and Google have a rather difficult relationship. The official Grooveshark app gets kicked out of the Google Play Store on a regular basis. It made a few comebacks, but it hasn't been around in the Play Store for a while now. Maybe it comes back, maybe it won't.
Last.fm isn't very global either. The germans, english, and americans can listen to last.fm radio stations for free, but only on a desktop or notebook computer. If you want to listen on your phone or tablet you have to pay for a subscription. Yes, you read that right. If your computer is smaller than a netbook and runs Android instead of Windows your music comes at a higher price. Outside the three lucky countries everyone has to pay for last.fm.
But even if you pay that doesn't mean you can listen where you want to listen. Outside Germany, USA, and the UK you can't listen to any last.fm music on your phone or tablet. Not even if you buy a thousand paid subscriptions.
But hey, you've got an Android gadget, and Android gadget users don't take no for an answer. With the right apps you can break through the borders and listen to
Update 1: CoboltFM and KLastFM are dead. Last.fm changed things for the worse and pulled the plug on free streaming for almost everyone. Believe it or not, most of the planet can't stream anymore even if they pay. Last.fm refugees can still stream custom radio stations from Grooveshark with Dood's Music Streamer.
Update 2: Liquid Bear still plays last.fm radio on Android.
Bluestream is the worst Grooveshark player from the pack. There are long gaps between songs, because Bluestream doesn't prebuffer. Searching for music or hitting the play button often pops up a connection error that only goes away after you try again a couple of times. The user interface is downright horrible. Tabs for the different parts of the app are in a very thin strip on the bottom of your screen, and you can't reorder tracks in the play queue. It doesn't scrobble to last.fm either. On the bright side, it's still available in the Google Play Store.
GrooveMobile has been around on Windows Mobile for a long time, but its Android counterpart is still in its infancy.
TinyShark has been around a bit longer. Long enough to get kicked out of the Google Play Store. Its user interface sucks, it doesn't precache music so there are gaps between songs, and it won't play Grooveshark radio stations either. On the bright side, it can scrobble your tracks to last.fm
Dood's Music Streamer is the best Android Grooveshark app. Too bad its ad banners are strategically placed to attract accidental clicks, but that's what ad blockers are for. It buffers the next track for almost gapless playback, it plays Grooveshark radio stations, its playlist is well organized, it has a very functional widget, and it can scrobble your songs to last.fm too. It's not in the Google Play Store anymore, but there's a world wide web out there...
• Bluestream (Google Play Store)
• Dood's Music Streamer