So I wrote about Lala, and the excellent album-format streaming they do. A lot of people told me about alternatives I wasn’t aware of, so let me talk about those for a sec.
One friend said that Zune does everything Lala did, or at least lets you stream some stuff. Another said that (new) Napster also did that. Both have a reasonable monthly fee, so they differ in that regard (part of the appeal was the open nature of trying and sharing, and even $4.99/mo would have dented my initial interest in it).
MOG came out with their all-you-can-eat offering maybe a week before I discovered Lala, and if you caught me in that week, I certainly talked your ear off about it. MOG’s still up, but their library is less complete than Lala’s, their interface is C+ (but slowly improving), and they also hit you up for a monthly fee. I pay that, but I’m sort of on the fence about it.
Rdio also streams albums, has a very nice interface, some social features, library matching, and a sweet mobile client. Also: a monthly fee (larger if you plan on using the mobile client). They’re in beta.
There are probably a dozen others, but one of the first is still one of the best: Pandora. I pay them every year and I’m delighted to. They don’t stream albums, but for free, they put together one of the most compelling music offerings. The stuff I find on there – really, on a weekly basis – is worth mentioning here again. Making jambalaya for dinner and tuning into a station dedicated to Delta Blues – one where you can skip tracks, up-vote ones you like, and by doing so, modify it – is sufficiently futuristic for me.