Unlike TV and movie streaming platforms (of which there seems to be an increasingly growing amount), when it comes to music streaming platforms you really only need one. But which one is best for you and your budget? We broke down the pros and cons of five of the most popular music streaming services out there to help you decide.
Pros: You can listen to tens of millions of songs for free on this easily accessible platform, which you can have on your phone, tablet, and computer. It hooks up to most devices, so you most certainly won’t have to buy new technology to use it. However, if you want to bypass the commercial breaks, and listen on and offline, you can upgrade to a premium membership it’s just $10 per month, or $14.99 if you want to create a family plan. (If that’s too steep for your budget and you’re a student, you’re in luck because you can get a membership for just $4.99.) With premium membership, you can listen to radio stations based on your musical tastes, create your own playlists, and discover new artists, among other perks. You’ll also get access to non-music goodies like podcasts and Hulu with premium.
Cons: While this is far and away the most popular streaming service amongst music listeners, it may not be a favorite of musicians. A 2018 report from CNBC found that Spotify only “pays about $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of music rights.” So if you’re a musician, or you think artists deserve a better shake from a service that heralds in 191 monthly active users, those numbers may not be music to your ears.
Pros: The Apple streaming platform has an extensive library of music (50 million songs to be exact), Beats 1 Radio, and music videos. (Better yet, you can transfer all the music you already own into your library.) The service often gets wildly popular debuts and exclusives, too, such as the 2017 record-breaking project from Drake. If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, you can listen on or offline on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, or Android devices. The ever-helpful Alexa can also set up your Apple Music on your Amazon Echo, Amazon Fire TV, or Sonos speakers. Like Spotify, Apple Music is just $10 a month, and $14.99 if you want to upgrade to a family subscription with up to six users. College students can also get in on a discounted $4.99 a month rate.
Cons: If you’re trying to save money, Apple Music may not be your top option as there are no options for free streaming services. Plus, while other platforms like Spotify are sleek and easy to navigate, Apple Music can feel a little confusing.
Pros: First, there’s Amazon Music Unlimited—which offers up millions of songs—for $9.99 a month, or $7.99 if you’re an Amazon Prime member. It’s even cheaper if you have Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap device, bringing it down to $3.99 per month. The streaming service is available on most devices, including smartphones, smart TVs, Macs, and PCs. The platform includes favorites such as playlists, artist recommendations, and the x-ray lyrics feature that allow you to sing along. If you’re still not sure if it’s for you, you can also try a 30-day free trial before buying. Then there’s Amazon Prime Music, which allows members to play songs on and offline on your devices, but with significantly fewer music options than that of the Unlimited service.
Cons: As Forbes pointed out, Amazon Music Unlimited’s affordable price for Prime members is a mirage as “you already have Amazon’s Prime Music service available to you for free, so why would you want to pay the extra 8 bucks a month for something that you’ve already paid for?”
Pros: It’s co-founded by Beyoncé, need we say more? Okay, well if you are still considering other reasons to possibly get Tidal than bowing down to Queen B, the platform promises millions of high-quality tracks and multimedia, including exclusives from the likes of Rihanna and The White Stripes. In addition to features such as curated playlists, social media connections, and offline playability, Tidal also offers users access to concert tickets and live streams. Tidal, which has a free trial option and is available on most devices (including iOS, Mac, and Android), was created to compensate artists fairly, so if that’s something important to you, it’s certainly something to consider.
Cons: Tidal’s biggest draw for music fanatics is, arguably, the sound quality. And while you can get a premium membership for the standard $9.99, if you want the Hi-Fi sound features, you’re gonna have to shell out $19.99 a month. Plus, soon enough you may not need to go to Tidal for higher sound quality, as it’s been reported that Amazon is going to start offering that particular subscription feature.
Pros: The least expensive streaming service on the list, Pandora can be downloaded for free (with ads, natch) or you can get a premium membership for $4.99 a month. Pandora has millions of songs available for you to listen to on their personalized radio platform, of which a big draw to find new artists and music. In fact, the biggest appeal of Pandora is creating a soundtrack that’s specifically catered to you and your likes in music. (Their thumbs up feature helps make this easy and fun.) You can listen to Pandora on various devices, including your PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, and Roku, among others. And for better or worse, Pandora has teamed up with Ticketmaster, which can give you more insights to artists coming to your town, but you know…Ticketmaster.
Cons: There’s a couple of basics that Pandora has to catch up with if they want to continue to compete with the other big streaming services, including allowing better skip functions and introducing a family plan.
Which is your favorite streaming service? Tweet us and let us know!