Top Music Streaming Services – Which One Is Best For You

Top Music Streaming Services

 

Introduction

Nowadays, it’s rare to see anyone actually purchasing CDs, or walking around with an MP3 in their pocket. With all the limitations that they hold, it seems that the world has finally parted ways with the past and has moved onto streaming! By being able to use the internet to immediately be able to play music, it makes you wonder why we ever limited ourselves to just the one ABBA CD, when we can just stream a playlist of every album and ‘best of’ CD they released.

Why Is It The Way Forward?

Okay, so…First of all, what exactly is music streaming? To stream music actually means to be able to listen to music in ‘real time’, rather than have to download a file on your computer and have to listen to it later. With music streaming sites, there is no music to download (see ‘Things To Consider – Available Offline?’ for more information). Instead, it is just a continuous stream of data, hence the name, streaming.

 Why is it better than CDs? Well, when you decide to buy a CD, you will have to consider the price of each individual CD, and have to purchase them singularly. Also, if at the time of listening, you do not have the specific CD you wish to play, you will have to find something else. However, when it comes to music streaming, the service offers you a price to pay each month for unlimited use of millions of songs (often over 20 million) that they have to offer. Not only this, but the service is easier to use as all that is required is an aux cord (if mobile) or some speakers, rather than relying on the quickly fading CD player that most cars don’t even carry anymore.

 Why is it better than an MP3? While MP3s allow you to have multiple albums available at once, the downside is that the MP3 will run out of space, so you may have to pick and choose wisely which albums you keep on.

What Are Your Best Options?

Spotify

Spotify consists of two settings, ‘Spotify’ and ‘Spotify Premium’. The first option, which is free, is their base streaming service which enables users to listen to any of the music that they want. But, with each album or playlist that they choose, they can only listen to it on shuffle mode, meaning they may not be able to listen to the specific song that they want. With the free version, there are also adverts that appear between the songs, which can put off some users. When it comes to adding your favourite songs to a playlist of your own, this is allowed, but you are restricted to the number of songs that can be added.

With ‘Spotify Premium’, though, the user is able to listen to all the music that they want with no adverts. Not only this, but they can listen to the songs in whatever order that they want and are not limited to song space if they are to create their own playlists. Unlimited downloading of the songs to ‘offline mode’ is also available for when the user wants to listen to their favourite songs, but are not in range of any internet.

With both account types, only one device is able to be currently using the account (playing music) at once, and any secondary device just listens to whatever the primary device is alreadly listening to.


PROS:

  • Large number of user-built playlists.
  • Easy to use platform.
  • User-friendly apps that are frequently updated and checked for bugs.

CONS:

  • Large number of advertisements on free version.
  • Free accounts can only shuffle songs.


 

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Apple Music

Apple Music is a relatively new music streaming service that was brought out by the company, Apple. Taking over their old method of music downloading, this streaming service is available only on Apple products, such as the iPhone, and is a high competitor in the streaming business.

 Apple Music, similarly to Spotify, has two options when it comes to accounts – a free version and a paid version. With the free version, the user is only allowed to listen to the songs on the streaming radio and have songs picked for them. Ads are also included between the tracks, which can be offputting. However, with the paid version, users can listen to any song that they wish, and are not just limited to the streaming radio. But, they do have access to Apple’s Beats 1 radio, which is absolutely ad free.


PROS:

  • Combines your iTunes library with music that you don’t already own.
  • Mixture of music experts and algorithms help find music perfect for you.
  • Can control what you are searching for with Siri.

CONS:

  • iCloud Music Library can have bugs that may leave some music missing.
  • App’s design is cluttered and can be offputting.


 

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Google Play Music

Google Play Music is a music streaming service, run by Google, that allows users to upload and listen to music from their personal libraries without any subscription. However, there are two levels of Google Play Music, as there is with most streaming software.

With Google Play Music, you can either use a free account, or upgrade to a premium account which is paid for. With the free account, the user is able to stream from the free radio stations that the service offers based on your mood, activity or favourite music. Free users are able to skip songs at a rate of six times per hour.  Paid accounts, though, are able to stream tens of millions of songs without any ads that would appear  on the free version, and be able to listen to their music offline.

 


PROS:

  • Integrates your personal collection with the available streaming catalog.
  • Songs from your personal collection can be downloaded to be available offline.

CONS:

  • Not the best for discovering new music, due to the emphasis of stations and recommended music.
  • Design for the mobile apps is messy and overwhelming.


 

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Rhapsody

 Rhapsody is a music streaming service that has recently become standalone from their former parent company, RealNetworks. The service works on a free and paid basis which allows users two different levels within their streaming service.

 With the free version of Rhapsody, the user can listen to radio that is personalised to their favourite artist or track. Unlike most competitors of Rhapsody, free users can also skip as many tracks as needed. 25 songs can be downloaded to listen offline, which can be limiting to those wanting more than that. However, with the paid version, that can get unlimited access to the service and more! An infinite number of songs can be downloaded for offline purposes, home audio devices may be added, family plans can be considered for those wanting to spread their music around the household, and there is even an option for ‘Rhapsody Kids’, which is perfect for the younger ones in the family.

 


PROS:

  • Available on most mobile platforms, some MP3 players, and many home audio systems.
  • Straightforward features and simple design makes experience over all platforms very similar.

CONS:

  • Desktop app feels disorganised and is difficult to navigate.
  • Web player is bare and doesn’t offer many recommendations.


 

Things To Consider:

Music Catalog

When looking for the perfect Music Streaming Service for you, you may not even think of this one. But, don’t worry, we have your back. When looking at services, you need to think about how many songs they actually have on their platform, and if any artists have excluded themselves from their streaming service. Below is the current music catalog (as of this writing) of the compared Music Streaming Services and some of the bands that are excluding themselves from the certain platform:

Spotify

Over 30 million Songs Available

Some Artists Not Available:

  • Taylor Swift
  • The Beatles
  • Prince

Apple Music

30 million Songs Available

Some Artists Not Available:

  • Prince
  • The Beatles
  • The Black Keys

Google Play Music

22 million Songs Available

Some Artists Not Available:

  • Garth Brooks
  • ACDC
  • Led Zeppelin

Rhapsody

Over 13 million Songs Available

Some Artists Not Available:

  • Led Zeppelin
  • Bob Seger
  • Tool

Streaming Capability

Another thing that often doesn’t get thought about too much, but should, is the fact that some streaming services will not allow you to listen on specific platforms, while others will. Below are a list of compatible platforms for the compared Music Streaming Services:

Spotify

Mobile – iOS, Android, Windows Phone.

Desktop – Windows, Mac, Web Player.

Home Audio – Playstation 3 and above, Sonos, Roku, Amazon, Fire TV, TiVo, Most Smart TVs.

Apple Music

Mobile – iOS, Android.

Desktop – only via iTunes.

Home Audio – Apple TV.

Google Play Music

Mobile – Android, iOS.

Desktop – via Web Browser.

Home Audio – Not Available.

Rhapsody

Mobile – iOS, Android, Windows Phone.

Desktop – Windows, Web Player.

Home Audio – Sonos, Xbox 360 and above, TiVo, Samsung, LG, most Smart TVs.

Does It Cost?

The price of these Music Streaming Services can vary and affect if you are willing to pay the prices for their unlimited service. Below we have compared the prices of the following Music Streaming Services and any free versions, trials and plans/discounts available:

Spotify

Trial – 30 Days

Free Version – Yes

Paid Version – £9.99/month

Family Plans – Spotify Family (50% off Premium)

Apple Music

Trial – 3 months

Free Version – Yes, but only for 3 months

Paid Version – £9.99/month

Family Plans – £14.99/month (up to 6 people)

Google Play Music

Trial – 30 Days

Free Version – Yes

Paid Version – £9.99/month

Family Plans – No

Rhapsody

Trial – 30 Days

Free Version – Yes, but only for 30 days

Paid Version – UnRadio $4.99, Premium $9.99 (US Only)

Family Plans – Up to 3 devices per account

Conclusion

When choosing a Music Streaming Service that is best for you, there are certainly a lot of things to consider. All services claim to be the best and offer you the most quality for a given price. However, as it is shown above, that may not always be the case. Most compared services offer the same price, which makes cost one of the smaller things on the list to consider. Compatibility is a big one, as you may be limited to the platforms you can use.

If you are a family person, we would recommend you opt for a Music Streaming Service that offers a Family Plan, so that you save money and get even more out of your service at the same time! But, if you are a music lover, we would recommend looking into the Music Catalog. Most Music Streaming Services offer at least 20 million songs, but remember that some music artists will actually refuse to have their music on certain Music Streaming Services – most noteably is Taylor Swift. But, always be aware that this can change over time and more artists can pull their music or put it back up.

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