Music streaming services such as Spotify are great for those who love listening to tunes on a regular basis. For a fixed monthly fee, you get access to millions of songs from a variety of artists that you can play anytime.
These services have a few advantages over listening to music on YouTube that are big enough to justify the monthly fee for a lot of people. Unlike on YouTube, the screen of the device doesn’t have to be turned on for the audio to play. Turning off your display has the obvious benefit of helping extend battery life life.
Additionally, some services allow you to download songs with a tap of a button, so you can listen to them while on the go without an internet connection. It’s also easy to discover new songs, as well as create playlists.
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There are a number of different music streaming services available. Although all of them give you access to an online library of songs, they do differ from one another in a few ways. In this post, we take a closer look at the five best music streaming services to give you a better idea of which might be most suitable for your needs.
Spotify is the biggest player in the music streaming market with over 60 million paying subscribers across the globe. Its library contains more than 30 million songs and two billion playlists. The service is available in exactly 61 markets, so most of you will be able to use it. Spotify costs $9.99 per month, but you can try it out free of charge for 30 days.
You have the option of downloading songs for offline listening, which comes in handy when you don’t have access to a Wi-Fi network. You can also follow your favorite artists and get notified when they release new songs or announce upcoming shows. And whenever you come across a great new track, you can share it with friends on Facebook with a simple tap.
The Discover Weekly playlist that’s automatically generated based on your music taste is what makes Spotify stand out from the crowd.
What makes Spotify stand out from the crowd is the Discover Weekly playlist that’s automatically generated every Monday based on your music taste. This makes it easy to discover new songs without manually searching for them, which can be time-consuming.
It’s worth pointing out that Spotify also has a free plan on offer. However, it is ad-supported and comes with a number of limitations. You can only skip six tracks per hour and can’t download them for offline listening, among other things.
Google Play Music
Google’s music streaming service is available in 63 countries and offers a library of 40 million songs. You’ll have to dish out $9.99 per month to get it but can try it out for free first just like the rest of the services on this list.
What makes Google Play Music different is that it allows you to upload 50,000 of your own songs, which means they won’t take up space on your device anymore. But its biggest advantage over the competition is that the monthly fee includes a YouTube Red subscription that gets rid of those annoying ads you see before or in the middle of videos. The service also allows you to listen to the audio while the screen is turned off.
You can use the service on your Android or iOS device as well as in a web browser, and can download your favorite tracks to play them offline. The service will recommend songs based on your taste and offers a number of curated radio stations containing tracks that fall into the same category (fitness, relaxation…). There’s also a list of “Top songs” available that show you what’s popular at any given time.
The service isn’t perfect, as discovering new songs based on your specific taste can be a pain at times — despite Google’s recommendations. It just isn’t as easy as on a few other music streaming services. There’s also a free plan available, but it does have a number of limitations. It contains ads, lets you skip just six songs per hour, and only gives you access to curated radio stations.
Apple Music is available in well over 100 countries around the world and has a library of 40 million songs. You can try out the service free of charge for 90 days, after which you’ll have to pay $9.99 per month to continue using it.
Apple’s music service offers a lot of the same things as its competitors. You can create playlists, download songs to your device, and get personalized recommendations based on your music taste — updated daily. Just like Spotify, it allows you to follow your favorite artists to get notified when they release new tracks. You can also stream songs from your iTunes library and use Siri to find and play them.
However, Apple Music does offer a few exclusive albums and songs from some of the biggest stars in the industry. For example, Chance The Rapper’s mixtape Coloring Book was initially only available on the company’s streaming service, but just for the first two weeks. Apple Music also features a popular 24/7 live radio station called Beats One that has music, live radio hosts, various interviews, and more.
Its biggest drawback is that unlike the majority of the competition, you can’t use Apple Music in a web browser. But it is available for both Android and iOS devices. The service also doesn’t have a free version like Spotify and a few other rivals. Additionally, the app could use some work, as it isn’t quite as easy to use as it could be, which is weird considering that Apple has always been all about simplicity.
The music streaming service partly owned by Jay-Z has more than 25 million songs and 130,000 music videos. It stands out due to its high-fidelity streaming option that offers better audio quality than its competitors. But it is expensive, as the monthly subscription costs $19.99. However, there’s also a plan with standard sound quality that will set you back $9.99 per month — you can try out both plans for free first.
Just like Apple Music, Tidal offers exclusive content from artists such as Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Rihanna, among others — mainly co-owners of the service. A lot of the content is only exclusive to Tidal for a short period of time, as it eventually makes its way to other streaming services as well. Occasional ticket pre-sales are also available to subscribers as are music video outtakes, backstage concert footage, and other video content.
Tidal does have its share of problems, though. It doesn’t have a free version, and lyrics are not supported. But its biggest issue is the app in my opinion, which is just too cluttered, making it a pain to use at times. The company should simplify it, make it cleaner, which would improve the overall experience with the service.
However, the app does have a dark theme with the addition of an eye-catching blue color that is quite stylish. It’s available for both Android as well as iOS devices, and you can also listen to your favorite tracks via the web player.
Amazon Music Unlimited
Amazon entered the market with its Music Unlimited service last year, which is a great choice for Prime member or those using one of the company’s Alexa-powered smart speakers.
The service costs $9.99 per month, but the retail giant is offering a discount to Prime members, bumping the price down to $7.99. Those with an Echo device can sign up for just $3.99 per month, which allows them to listen to music through the smart speaker. However, they can’t use the Android/iOS apps or the web player.
Amazon hasn't shared the exact number of songs it has in its library, hinting that it's lower when compared to rival streaming services.
Amazon hasn’t shared the exact number of tracks it has in its catalog, likely because it’s lower when compared to the competition. Nevertheless, there’s still plenty to choose from, with the company claiming to offer “tens of millions of songs”. It also features some exclusive content, supports lyrics, and allows you to upload your own tracks — just like Google Play Music.
In addition to having what appears to be a smaller selection of songs, Amazon Music Unlimited also doesn’t have a free version. There are a few other issues including the lack of artists’ biographies, which might not be a deal breaker, but is still something we would like to see.
Which service is right for me?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to answer that question. Although all the services do the same basic thing, it’s impossible to recommend one over the other to everyone due to their differences.
Spotify is great for finding new songs, among other things, thanks to the Discover Weekly playlist, while Google Play Music includes a subscription to YouTube Red that gets rid of ads before videos.
Apple’s service has a number of exclusives making it the first to release a variety of track and albums, whereas Tidal stands out due to its high-fidelity streaming option. Amazon Music Unlimited, on the other hand, might be for you if you’re a Prime subscriber or own an Echo device.
Which music streaming service would you choose? Let us know in the comments.