Music Streaming Services: The Best Music Streaming Services for Your Groove

14 min read

Music Streaming Services: The Best Music Streaming Services for Your Groove

MUSIC HAS COME A LONG WAY since the days when people would load up Napster or LimeWire and, uh, download "backups", of their favorite tracks, to "legally". We have never had so much choice at such a low price. We can now access high-quality recordings without worrying about viruses or having to wait long downloads. All for the cost of one Taco Bell meal a month. There are many options for music streaming these days. However, not all are worth the money.

What separates streaming services is the experience of desktop and mobile applications, which devices they can be used with and sound quality. The libraries of all these services are almost identical, containing tens and millions of tracks ranging in popularity from popular to obscure. The majority of these services offer a free version, but you will get a better experience if pay monthly fees. Our favorite apps were tested to find out which ones are the best.

How to Choose a Service

It's possible to upgrade headphones and speakers, but the majority of people choose a streaming service that they stick with for many years. How can you be sure you are choosing the best service for you, not just the most popular one? Consider these factors.

If you share your music with others, it may make the experience more enjoyable. Sharing the same Spotify platform with all your friends will be much more convenient. Tyler Hayes offers tips on how to make music streaming more social in.

You'll want to invest in lossless audio if you plan to listen to recordings of live concerts alone and with headphones. I'll go into more detail about lossless audio near the end of this post. If you're listening to music on your Bluetooth speakers while you run, it is unlikely that you will be able tell the difference. The lossless format also requires four to five times more storage per song.

You may also find that the devices you use are more difficult to operate. You'll need a pair Apple headphone to go along with your iPhone or HomePod Mini if you plan on spending a lot of money for an Apple Music subscription that includes Dolby atmos and lossless sound. You might consider Amazon Music if you prefer Alexa enabled speakers.

Best Overall Music Streams Services

1-Spotify

Spotify is the most user-friendly and intuitive music app. The app led me to rabbit holes of new and old artists based on my listening habits and what I liked.

You can upgrade the free version to a 160-Kbps bitrate if you want to remove all advertisements. The Premium tier, available for $10 per month, removes all ads and allows streaming up to 320 kbps. This is today's standard. Spotify HiFi is coming, but it's not yet available.

Spotify now has more than 100 millions tracks. This is without the catalogues of Neil Young and other, who asked Spotify to remove their tracks in protest of Spotify's podcaster Joe Rogan spreading misinformation about Covid.

Spotify allows you to add as many songs as you want to your library. You can also create playlists with up to 10,000 songs. You can also create sessions in which a group streams the same playlist. If you enable social sharing you will be able to see what songs your friends are listening to. On each Artist's page, you can listen only to the songs that you like. This is an improvement over previous years.

Spotify's new grouping of albums, singles and compilations into one place, with the option to separate each, is much more convenient and smoother than its old set-up, where you had to see them separately all the time. The shuffle button is available for both albums and playlists. This allows you to know whether you are listening in order or on shuffle.

2- Tidal

Tidal and Apple Music have been trading places in our guide to best audiophile pick for a while now. Last year, Tidal responded to Apple Music’s lossless-quality tier by upping Premium (now known as the HiFi tier) from 320 kbps to 1411 kbps streaming quality, which is even with Apple Music’s lossless tier. Now the differences are razor-thin.

Tidal HiFi Plus supports Dolby Atmos Music and 360 Reality Audio, and there are even tracks you can play at “Master" quality (up to 9,216 Kbps)—though they’re few and far between. Newly introduced for the HiFi Plus tier is something Tidal calls Direct Artist Payouts. Basically, “up to” 10 percent of your subscription fee is delivered to the artists you listen to most. It’s a very thoughtful addition, and if you care about the state of the music industry (and the effect streaming has had on it), the knowledge that you’re supporting your favorite bands and artists could be enough to swing you toward Tidal. But details about how much is contributed and to whom are still murky.

The $10-per-month Premium tier has been renamed the HiFi tier, and its audio quality has been upped from 320 kbps to 1411 kbps. There’s also Tidal Free. In case you’re wondering: It’s free because it comes with ad interruptions. On Free, you can play curated channels, but you can’t watch videos, and the streaming quality is limited to 160 kbps.

Tidal’s catalog now includes more than 100 million songs, a boost from when we last updated this article in September 2022. The selection draws from the same broad swathe of genres as its competition, and it no longer leans primarily on hip-hop tracks, as it once did. All of its songs are currently available in lossless format.

3 - Apple Music

Apple Music was our audiophile pick until Tidal knocked it off the pedestal, but it’s still a very solid choice for lossless quality at $10 a month, if you’re an Apple fan. For select songs, audio streams at 1411 kbps. Apple has boosted its song catalog to over 100 million songs, all of which are available in lossless format. Some tracks are also available in Dolby Atmos. Apple Music’s regular, lossy format streams songs at up to 256 Kbps, which isn’t noticeably different from Spotify’s 320 Kbps If you add content to the Apple Music platform, buy Apple Music streams and Spotify streams to show your content on the trending tab of social media platforms. This will increase your content's instant presence on the Apple and Spotify streaming board.

The Apple Music Voice Plan costs $5 a month. There are no annoying ads, but you have to use Siri to control it. There’s no way to view or make playlists, and you can’t save favorite songs, artists, or albums. That also means no music videos or lyrics. There’s little you can control with the tap of a finger—just pause/play, forward, and back. You’re stuck asking Siri to find and play songs one at a time, or you can listen to curated playlists and radio stations. But that’s a lot of restrictions to save only $5 a month. If it sounds a little confusing or counterintuitive, Apple has put together a (necessary) how-to.

Apple’s human-curated discovery options aren’t as fun as Spotify’s. As on Spotify, you can see what your friends are listening to if they’ve turned on social sharing. You’re limited to 100,000 songs in your library, but there are no limits to how many you can put in each playlist.

I like the iPhone app, and the Android version is OK, but the desktop app is dreadful. Songs occasionally refuse to play, clicking “Add to Library” rarely works, and the Back button is a dysfunctional mess. Adding music to your library is tedious. If you navigate away from the browsing tab, the Back button takes you to the home screen, so you have to navigate all the way back to the album or artist you were looking at—except for when it nonsensically disappears. If you’re considering making the move, check out our guide to switching from Spotify to Apple Music.

4 - YouTube Music

YouTube Music’s interface is slick and well laid out. It doesn’t try to copy Spotify’s look, and I like how the song queue and lyrics pop up in a vertical window within the app, which makes navigating faster and more convenient. You can also easily switch from listening to a song to watching the music video, if one is available.

YouTube used to offer music recommendations based on you sharing your precise location, which could be creepy. So, upload song for your location and consider for buy YouTube subscribers and views to get a bit popularity in start. . That’s gone in the latest updates to YouTube Music, although you can still choose to see popular song recommendations based on your activity.

The service has more than 100 million songs in its catalog, and I liked its band suggestions. You can keep 100,000 songs saved in your library, and you can create and share playlists with your buddies. YouTube Music combines Apple Music’s and Spotify’s best artist-tracking features: You can see your “liked” songs by artist, and you can subscribe to an artist to see their entire catalog and new releases.

The free tier has a major downside—on the smartphone app, the music stops playing when you turn your screen off or jump to another app. That means you’ll probably need to pony up for YouTube Music Premium ($10 a month), which also cuts out the ads and lets you download songs for offline playback. The desktop app doesn’t have the same critical weakness.

Also Consider About The Other Streaming Services

Wondering about other streaming services? I tried the following three and didn’t like them as much as our top picks. Here’s why:

Amazon Music:

The best thing about Amazon Music is that its basic ad-free tier is included with Prime, but it’s sneaky. It has a song catalog of more than 100 million tracks, up from “more than 90 million” this past fall, but listeners recently lost the ability to choose what to hear and when. Instead, they’re stuck on shuffle. Amazon Music Unlimited—$9 per month for Prime members and $10 per month for everyone else—ditches the ads, and Amazon Music HD no longer requires an extra monthly fee on top of Unlimited’s price tag, but its clunky interface and so-so music discovery hold it back from being a top pick.

Deezer:

 This international audio streaming service has made multiple inroads to compete with Spotify, but we found its features lacking. On iPhone and Android, you can only “favorite” 1,000 albums and artists, each. That’s way too low, especially considering its 90-million-song catalog. Music discovery suggestions are pretty bad too. Since it’s a French streaming service, a lot of the curated playlists include tracks from albums that you can’t play in the US. Several tracks in the Ray Charles collections were missing when I checked, for example. It also had a dismal Back button that would skip screens.

Pandora:

Once the king of music streaming, Pandora is still very popular, but it has steadily lost listeners over the last decade. The free tier is full of ads. There’s a visual ad in the app window, ads periodically interrupt your listening on the curated radio stations, you need to watch ads to skip tracks, and you need to watch ads to search for and play specific songs. Paying $5 a month gets rid of them, except you still have to watch ads to search for your own tracks. The $10-a-month Premium tier lets you search for songs without ads, but like the other tiers it promises unlimited skips but has fine print saying that “skips (are) limited by certain licensing restrictions.” The maximum bit rate of 192 Kbps is too low to be worth paying for. It’s a bad deal all around. Pandora is simply falling further and further behind.

What Is Lossless or Spatial Audio?

Lossless audio quality is the big, new marketing buzzword for music streaming apps, kind of like the megapixel wars of digital SLR cameras in the 2000s. Most popular music services use a form of lossy compression, which encodes music files and discards less distinguishable bits of data in the song so that files take up far less storage space.

Lossless compression, by comparison, keeps every bit of data, so you won’t miss a single nuance from that recording. A lossless music file generally streams at 1,411 Kbps, compared to a more typical lossy file that typically streams from around 256 Kbps to 320 Kbps.

You may also see the term “spatial audio,” which is a feature Apple Music recently added. Spatial audio uses Dolby Atmos technology to allow artists to mix music so that you hear the sound from around you and above, for a much more immersive quality. However, you will need Apple-made headphones with an H1 or W1 chip to enjoy Apple Music’s lossless tracks.

 

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