Today, music became somewhat of a commodity with YouTube offering listeners unimaginable quantity of free music to listen to. But, with YouTube, you can’t listen to artist’s radios, scrobbling to Last.Fm is practically impossible (all scrobble apps that offer this functionality just don’t work as they supposed to), you can’t download full albums with right metadata and covers, and much more. So, if you want to listen to your music online there are many free and paid streaming services that can offer you huge libraries, an option to download music in order to listen to it while offline, and even uploading your entire library so you can access it whenever you want (if you have internet connection, of course). In this short list, we will try to cover the best music streaming options currently available, to see their pros and cons and to give you some guidance about choosing the right one. Stay with us and find out which music streaming services are currently the best.
It’s the first logical option, it has a library of more than 20 million songs, and it has a user base of 60 million strong and counting. The best thing about it is that is absolutely free, if you don’t mind hearing an ad every now and then, with the “Spotify Premium” subscription that cost $10 per month. It gives you unlimited streaming, no ads, an option to download songs in order to listen to them offline. Nice group of features that isn’t so expensive. I personally found out that just the amount of time that I save per month because I don’t have to download my music and then transfer it to my phone, or tablet is well worth the $10 per month, but for people that just want to listen to shuffled playlists free option is still just fine, and ads aren’t as annoying as you would think.
Now, Spotify is available in more than 60 countries, and there is a chance that your country isn’t on the list. If you encounter that problem, there is a solution in the form of TunnelBear, a program that can change your IP address location, making you eligible for Spotify, even if your country isn’t supported. Bear in mind (pun intended) that this solution will also work with other services that we’ll cover in this list, so you don’t have an excuse to not try them.
Now, the cons are the annoying social sharing function that’s turned on by default, relatively bad radio option, and a generally subpar option of finding out new music. The quality is 160kbps for free users, and 320 for paid users. And let’s not forget that you can get a three months trial for just $1, sweet deal that will give you plenty of time to decide if Spotify is for you.
Google Play Music
The best thing about Google Music is that it allows you to upload up to 50,000 songs from your local storage and listen to them online, with the option to download them to your mobile device for offline sessions. If you subscribe to “All Access” program for $10 per month you’ll get access to curated playlists, artist radios that are quite good for discovering new music, more than 30 million of songs that can be downloaded and listened to offline (but just on mobile devices, on PC you can download just the music you bought or uploaded), and much more. The quality of streaming is 320kbps mp3, so you’ll be satisfied, unless an audiophile.
The best thing about “All Access” subscription is that it gives you access to YouTube Red (not Red Tube), a new premium video service by Google, allowing you to watch a huge library of original shows and movies. Nice. Also, if you are subscribed, there isn’t really a reason to buy any song because you can stream it as many times you want, and can download it to your mobile device so it will be there even if you don’t have network collection. And, just to let you know that uploading music is fast, reliable, and will rarely mess music metadata. The cons are that Google will ask you for your credit card information, even if you just want to get the free trial, the service can just stop working on PC at random times (even if your internet is working fine) and even if its 320kbps, mp3 format is clearly inferior option than AAC format used by some competitors.
Seeing that Spotify and Google Play Music became hugely popular because of their unlimited streaming option, Apple decided to offer users its own streaming service. And it’s good, it has a library of more than 25 million songs, a high-quality 256kbps AAC streaming (better option than 320kbps mp3, if you ask me), exquisitely curated playlists, and a great three months free trial. It has a special, always on Beats1 radio station, and the biggest reason to use it is that everyone uses, or was using iTunes at some point.
The con could be a plethora of curated playlists that can really confuse you, and if you forget a particular playlist’s title, forget about it. There are just so many of them that checking the ones that are good as favorites is the only option of finding them again. The premium plan is $10, and Apple music will be the first choice of all people who got used to iTunes.
If you want to know that your money is going to artists that you are listening to, then Tidal could be your choice. It is a service clearly built around quality, care for the music artists and a philosophy that sees listening to music as important as breathing. You have the option to watch music videos and read interesting articles while listening, the quality of music is the best possible (320kbps lossless) and the library is as good as any, with more than 25 million of songs.
Playlists are curated by music experts, the streaming quality is top-notch, but it comes with a price. There is no free trial, and two, not one subscription plans. A Tidal Premium, with a classic $10 per month price, and Tidal HiFi that costs $20 and its reserved for hardcore audiophiles. This is the biggest con of Tidal because you can’t try it out and see if it is for you or not, and paying $10 just to end up disappointed is too high of a price in today’s world. Another problem will show if you try to download songs to listen to them online. Since it is using a lossless audio format, song size is huge and if you think about downloading an entire album, be ready to give as much as 500mb of your local storage per one album.
If you like to listen to the radio, Pandora is the right choice for you. It has more than fifteen years of experience in offering the listeners a huge collection of radio stations that can be interest or genre based and that are really good at what they do. You can listen to it for free or pick a premium plan that costs $5 per month, making Pandora the best option for people that want to have access to a premium streaming service but don’t want to pay $10 per month or more.
The cons are too many ads when listening for free, really underwhelming library size that is just around one million songs large, inability to replay songs, and a 128kbps audio quality for free users.
As we said, if you just want to listen to the radio stations that are really good while at the same time offline listening isn’t something you want, Pandora can be a great, affordable choice.
Thank you for reading this article. We tried to show you both good and bad sides of today’s premiere streaming services. But, the final choice is left for you to decide; just look what you need and what you like. If there’s a service that you love that isn’t covered in our list, please let us know in the comment section below, and happy listening!