The Best Streaming Music Services
There’s a lot in common across the finest music streaming services. For around $10 per month, most offer about 70 million songs. However, other services aim to appeal to people with certain interests, and corporations are constantly adding new features to compete for customers’ attention.
Indeed, the music streaming services listed below are an excellent example of how competition benefits consumers. Apple recently stated that its entire catalog would be available for lossless high-fidelity streaming shortly. Amazon offered its hi-fi streaming service a free feature of its base tier just one day later, while Spotify had previously promised lossless streaming would be available by the end of the year.
Google Play Music is being phased out. Here’s How to Keep Your Music Safe.
On the other hand, most listeners will probably be satisfied with the ordinary streaming quality. To hear the differences between high-quality audio and completely uncompressed lossless files, you’ll need high-end equipment. Furthermore, those files are larger, and they can consume a lot of data on your phone.
Meanwhile, established players like SiriusXM have updated their offerings, and our list includes two classical music providers. The majority of music streaming services include a free trial period. Many also have a free tier; for more information, see Consumer Reports’ guide to free music streaming.
We’ve outlined what makes each streaming service unique in this article. To learn more about a specific service, scroll down or click the links below.
Prime Music & Amazon Music Unlimited
Idagio LiveXLive via Apple Music
Spotify Tidal SiriusXM Select & SiriusXM Premier
Music on YouTube
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Prime Music is included with Amazon Prime, Amazon’s paid subscription service, which costs $13 per month or $119 per year. It features a 2 million music library.
Amazon Music Unlimited costs $8 for Prime members and $10 for non-Prime users per month. A three-month free trial is available, as well as a discounted family plan. If you sign up for the Single Device Plan using a compatible Amazon Echo device, you can earn a discounted rate of $4 per month.
By asking an Alexa smart assistant to play music, you may also access free, ad-supported playlists and stations.
It’s great for Amazon Prime members and bargain hunters alike.
Pros: Both are ad-free on-demand services, and Amazon Music Unlimited is the best deal if you already have a Prime subscription. Over 75 million songs, curated playlists, podcasts, and personalized stations are available on Unlimited. The whole catalog is now available in lossless high-definition streaming, with 7 million tracks in 24-bit “Ultra HD.” With or without a Prime account, this makes it the cheapest high-definition service available right now.
Cons: Amazon Music Unlimited does not appear to be as good at producing recommendations as some of its competitors, particularly Spotify. While Prime Music is free, its 2 million tracks are a small selection when compared to what you can obtain from competing streaming services.
Apple Music costs $10 per month for individuals and $15 for up to six family members. Students can also get a $5 discount on Apple Music. There is no free tier, however, a three-month trial is available.
Consumers who already have substantial iTunes libraries or are already committed to the Apple ecosystem will benefit the most from it.
Pros: Apple Music boasts a 75-million-song catalog available on Apple, Windows, and Android devices. Human curators curate a wide range of themed playlists to assist consumers in discovering new music. It also offers a unique feature that allows you to look for songs based on their lyrics.
Apple claims that by the end of the year, you’ll be able to access the whole catalog in lossless high-definition, with 20 million songs currently available in high-definition. If you have a compatible device, the certain video also works with Dolby Atmos surround sound.
Cons: The Windows desktop application is a tad clumsy. Apple Music may now be listened to in a browser for a more simplified experience.
You won’t be able to listen to Apple Music directly from a Google Home smart speaker. You may, however, install Apple Music on a smartphone or computer and use Bluetooth to broadcast music to the speaker.
Idagio is a classical music streaming service with a monthly fee of $10. You can try the service for free for two weeks before committing. Idagio offers a 50% discount to students, as well as a free ad-supported tier.
Idagio’s exclusive internet concerts, which occasionally feature leading performers, are available for $30 per month.
You can listen to songs in lossless high definition on both paying tiers.
Who it’s ideal for Idagio, like Primephonic (explained below), is aimed at classical music listeners.
Pros: Idagio was created with the genre’s quirks in mind. Even though they might work perfectly fine for searching down that fifth official remix of “Old Town Road,” it can be difficult to find your favorite version of a beloved Rachmaninov concerto on more mainstream platforms. The search tools on Idagio accommodate classical track name conventions with ease.
Idagio also offers a variety of browsing options, including crafted playlists and the ability to browse by instrument. You can opt to stream high-quality audio files for free with Idagio.
Cons: Idagio doesn’t contain any music that isn’t classical, so if you want your Stravinsky with a little Springsteen, you’re out of luck.
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Price: Streaming radio is free with commercials or $4 per month without advertisements on LiveXLive. You can also access an on-demand music library for $10. There is a student discount, however, the paid service has no trial period.
Who it’s best for LiveXLive (previously Slacker Radio) is similar to Pandora and is excellent for folks who want a more laid-back listening experience and aren’t choosy about which music plays next. The service also focuses on live performance streaming, thus customers may be able to watch feeds from shows in which the service is a partner.
Pros: A wide range of stations, including ABC News and ESPN Radio, as well as the standard music genres, are available.
Cons: LiveXLive is designed for listening to radio stations rather than streaming music on demand. The app is a little tough to use, and the website can be difficult to browse as well.
The streaming radio feature is free with advertisements. For $5 a month, you can listen to ad-free streaming radio or select tracks with advertising. The $10/month tier grants you ad-free access to the full service. There’s also a $15 family package. Pandora offers free trial periods for paying customers, as well as discounts for students and military personnel.
It’s best suited for: Paid customers can stream particular tunes, just like any other service, but Pandora is best for consumers who prefer personalized recommendations and the hands-off listening experience of a live radio station. You don’t have to sift through song lists or conduct several searches; all you have to do is sit back and listen to what the service selects for you.
Pros: Getting started is simple. When you tell Pandora the artist you want to hear, it creates a channel with music from that artist and others with similar styles; you can customize the channel to your preferences. Most major platforms, including web browsers, Android and iOS devices, and smart speakers, have apps.
Cons: Pandora’s maximum audio quality isn’t as good as some of its rivals.
Primephonic Price: Primephonic, a classical music service, offers two alternative monthly rates based on audio quality: $10 for compressed files (320-Kbps MP3s) and $15 for higher-quality songs (lossless 24-bit FLACs). The program offers a 14-day free trial and discounts if you pay for a year in advance.
Classical music aficionados will enjoy it. Primephonic, like Idagio, makes it simple to find your favorite classical recordings, whether you’re looking for them by composer, performer, or other criteria like recording date. Classical music is abundant on services like Apple Music and Spotify, but finding and organizing individual recordings is far more difficult.
Pros: Primephonic is easy to use and understand. There are several playlists, some of which are curated by well-known musicians, and new albums are uploaded regularly. Primephonic focuses on new releases as well as lesser-known artists and labels, which is a pleasant addition for listeners who are always looking for new music. Many consumers will be interested in the optional high-quality streaming package.
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Cons: If you want music that isn’t classical, Primephonic isn’t going to be your sole option. The service includes mobile apps, but no desktop apps, so you’ll have to listen on a PC through a web browser. Furthermore, audiophiles may be turned off by the added cost of accessing Primephonic’s lossless audio streaming when its main competitor, Idagio, does not. The sound quality of the basic package, on the other hand, should be sufficient for most users.