Music lovers have many options when it comes to enjoying their favourite songs thanks to a great selection of apps and services. While it is possible to stream content for free, if you want to enjoy advanced features and get access to a vast catalogue of music even if you are offline, you would need to upgrade to a paid option. Recently, Tidal made the headlines as a new premium, celebrity endorsed (Jay Z, Beyoncé, Madonna and others are behind it) streaming service with exclusive content. However, Spotify, Rhapsody and Pandora are still on the top of the game. We’ll take a look at the most popular music streaming options to see what they offer and how they compare to each other.
Spotify has earned a leading place in the world of on-demand music streaming and it is the favourite choice for millions of users around the world. The free version has ads but provides on-demand streaming on computers and tablets, while mobile users can enjoy shuffled streaming. For just $10 per month, it is possible to upgrade to the premium version which offers access to high quality on-demand mobile streaming and offline support, meaning that you can access your playlist even if there is not internet connection available. There is also a radio mode similar to Pandora, but you can skip as many times as you want. With Spotify, you can easily create playlists with your favourite songs or enjoy full albums. If you have a tablet, you are likely to find that Spotify free is the most complete, convenient and enjoyable music streaming experience.
Instead of offering the possibility of accessing songs or albums on demand, Pandora works as a radio station tailored to the listener’s preferences. Pandora One is the paid version that allows you to enjoy music without ads, although you can only skip 6 times per station per hour, with a maximum of 12 skips per day. Regardless of its drawbacks, Pandora One is still one of the most affordable options (only $4 per month) available and it is hugely popular in the United States. Pandora is simple and it is a great option for discovering new music. You can set up multiple playlists and if you use different devices, you can avoid the 12 skip per day limit.
Google Play Music, Rhapsody and Apple Music
These are other options available and they provide on-demand access to their catalogue both online and offline. There are no free versions but the subscription cost is around $10 per month. Google Play Music All Access has the most complete music catalogue of all of them and it gives you the option of uploading your own tracks to the service. It is possible to upload up to 20,000 songs for free and you can listen to them on your mobile or computer. Google Play also offers radio features that allow you to start a station with any song or album. The radio station will be based on your musical taste and you can easily create one. They offer a quick and simple way to play your favourite music without having to select the songs manually.
Both Rhapsody and Apple Music are very similar to Spotify, but there are a few special features on both services. Beats was known for offering playlists created by professional musicians and artists, ensuring that you enjoy a top musical experience and this has been incorporated into Apple Music. Rhapsody is focused on helping you to discover new artists and new releases. It also has a family plan that provides access on up to 10 devices for 5 different users for $15 per month.
Last year, Apple acquired Beats and its music streaming service now includes Beats 1 as a curated radio station, as well as a blog platform called Connect, which allows artists to share media with fans. Launched in June 2015, Apple Music also offers music recommendations based on user’s preferences and it integrates Siri voice commands. The first three months of service are free and after that, the subscription costs $9.99. You can also store up to 25,000 songs in iCloud.
We also mentioned Tidal at the start of the article. This is a high fidelity music service that stands out for offering exclusive videos and releases from popular artists like Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift. The service currently offers two paid plans: Tidal Standard, which costs $9.99 per month and Tidal HiFi which aims to offer lossless High Fidelity sound quality for $19.99 per month. The service was involved in a lot of controversy when it was launched due to its over the top launch event, the initial price and its premise of offering a fair service for musicians and the audience, which was received with scepticism, given the fact that most of the artists backing up Tidal are highly popular and earn millions of dollars per year.
Thanks to the selection of streaming services available, users can find the option that better suits them. There are solutions for different budgets and requirements so it’s up to you to decide if you want high quality sound, a versatile on-demand experience, radio tailored to your preferences or a simple way to access your favourite songs. You can try the free versions or the trials available to find out which service is the best for you.