Kid-friendly music discovery?
August 28, 2014 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Our 9yo has (finally!) shown interest in searching for and listening to his own music on his iPod. Any suggestions for the easiest way he can do this where the music is either free to stream, or we can place limits on how much he purchases/downloads?

We're not so concerned about blocking explicit audio content, but we're not thrilled with him simply surfing YouTube for the latest Weird Al video, since he can come across all sorts of not-safe-for-kids video content that way, so audio-only would be best. Which of the big sites (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, etc) have you found to be the most kid-friendly and/or offer the biggest bang for the buck? Bonus points for other kid-focused sites/apps that actually organize/point kids to some great classic and/or new music (of any genre)!
posted by ericbop to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For money concerns, if you use iTunes you could charge the account up with a gift card so there are limited funds available to him.
posted by mymbleth at 12:56 PM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd let him use Pandora to explore the music related to the music that HE likes.

I know it's hard to let him enjoy the Top 40 crap that he's probably going to listen to without saying something, but let him find his own music...
posted by kuanes at 12:58 PM on August 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Itunes radio is usually low on explicit language (in fact I think anything I listed to on there was edited.) You can sign him up with an itunes account with no credit card attached -or gift the money. It's free. It also has featured playlists like "top 50 alt rock hits" and such.

Pandora is also free and just requires an email address. You can pay to remove ads and get more skips and it's hardly anything. ($5/month)
posted by Crystalinne at 12:59 PM on August 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I use the app from to stream different types of music on my phone. I like that you can pick by genre, decade, mood, activity, etc.
posted by belladonna at 12:59 PM on August 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure what model of iPod your son has, but on the iPhone (and iPod touch, I believe), you can listen to iTunes radio -- which has "stations" like "iTunes Weekly Top 50 -- Alternative". These are also available on iTunes for the Mac/PC.
posted by elmay at 12:59 PM on August 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I let my 9yo use my phone and Nexus 7, on which I have Spotify installed. (She doesn't have her own device.) I set up a playlist for her on which to store songs she discovers. Having her own playlist seems to be really important to her. She really seems to have taken ownership of it.

I pay monthly for Spotify premium, and there's no way (as far as I know) for her to actually purchase anything, so I think we're safe there. As far as "kid friendly" goes, I've decided to just let her listen to whatever she wants. I acknowledge that this is something of an experiment and that I might change my mind, but so far this seems to have worked OK. Being nine, she immediately ran a search for "poop", and the like. The results were about what you'd expect, but nothing (so far) that's made me reconsider my decision to let her roam freely throughout the library.

I also have playlists, and she discovers some songs that way. Or she looks up a song she heard on the radio. I'm interested in hearing other responses to your question, because I've wondered the same thing regarding discovery. Spotify does have various "radio" or "browse" functions, including a "kids" filter (which is something I hadn't actually known about until I looked in response to your question).
posted by lex mercatoria at 1:24 PM on August 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

A Pandora One account plus the Pandora app is probably your best bet. I am pretty sure you can set a maturity filter on the music so explicit tracks don't come through.
posted by Hermione Granger at 1:26 PM on August 28, 2014

Spotify. I share an account with my 9yo and we both love it
posted by dawkins_7 at 2:47 PM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Spotify is in fact the best for this. You could set it up as a shared account too so you can see everything he listens to and let him know you can see it so hopefully that might keep him from searching out pornographic Too Short skits or something.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:39 PM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Spotify. Unlike Pandora, it lets you play any song, by any artist, whenever you want, and their catalog is vast. Totally free if you're willing to put up with ads—or pay a flat rate to get premium features and get rid of the ads, and stream as much as you want. It rules.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:00 PM on August 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Songza has a lot of kid and family friend playlists. Just pick a mood, a genre or an activity, and play. You can also search for playlists with a particular artist in them.
posted by wrabbit at 7:25 PM on August 28, 2014

Just wanted to chime in to confirm that Pandora has an "allow explicit content" toggle (at least on iOS, with paid Pandora One subscription). Settings - Account.
posted by misterbrandt at 1:18 PM on August 31, 2014

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