Best Music Streaming Services for Free
A person on a couch, wearing headphones, listening to music.
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Streaming music is available to music fans in a variety of formats. The top music streaming services provide tempting features such as large libraries, customized suggestions based on your taste, and high-quality uncompressed songs, depending on what you’re interested in and how much you’re ready to spend.
You do, however, have access to free music streaming services. Even if you currently pay for another service (or two), several free services provide unique features that could be valuable additions to your music collection.
Most music streaming services provide a free trial of their paid services, however, the platforms on this list can be used eternally without ever entering credit card information. (Amazon Prime Music is an exception; the music is included with the $119 annual subscription.)
Before you spend time creating playlists, make sure you choose the correct service. Here’s what the top free music streaming services have to offer.
You have a few choices, which are listed in reverse alphabetical order, partially because Amazon’s “free” music streaming service isn’t free. We also have suggestions for headphones and speakers that will assist bring the music to life.
Music on YouTube
Amazon Prime Music is a subscription service that allows you to listen
Music on YouTube
YouTube Music’s free edition works a little differently than the other services on our list. You can stream any song you choose whether you’re listening in a web browser or on the app. Most other services, at least when using their app rather than their website, limit you to playlists or radio-style stations. Users can also upload up to 100,000 audio files to stream from the cloud, which is a terrific alternative if you have a large music collection that isn’t available on streaming services.
YouTube Music, as the name implies, also includes a large number of videos from the main YouTube site. You may go from listening to your favorite Radiohead album to seeing a video of the band performing at a music festival in a matter of seconds. You’ll have to put up with commercials, just like practically every other free service.
Drawbacks: YouTube Music’s free tier has a key problem that most other services don’t have. The music will cease if you lock your phone screen or switch to another app. While listening to music, you won’t be able to surf around Facebook or check your email. Having the screen on will drain your battery faster, even if you only want to listen.
However, if you’re listening to files that you’ve uploaded yourself, or if you’re listening on a computer, the problem doesn’t exist.
Who it’s best for: People who want instant access to a vast library of songs and films and don’t want to use their phones for anything else while listening to the app. It’s also a fantastic way to listen to your music on the fly.
Only Apple Music comes close to matching Spotify’s dominance in the music streaming sector. One feature that distinguishes it from Apple Music is the availability of a free tier. Spotify, like most of the services on this list, requires you to endure advertisements, but it does provide an intriguing option in which you can play a lengthier ad in exchange for 30 minutes of uninterrupted listening.
The company is known for its music recommendation engine, which is available to free users. As you listen to music, the app learns your preferences and suggests daily and weekly playlists based on your preferences. Spotify has made significant investments in podcasts in recent years, so it can serve as a hub for both types of audio, and you’ll have access to some unique content.
Related: What is the cheapest music streaming service
You can play individual songs on demand if you listen on a computer, but the phone app only allows you to listen to playlists and stations.
The fact that you can’t pick individual tracks on the phone app is the largest difference between the free and paid versions (apart from the commercials). Spotify’s free service has you covered if you merely want to listen to Queen on the move. If you absolutely must hear “Bohemian Rhapsody,” you’ll have to wait for it to appear on a playlist, and you can only skip six tracks every hour. Free users are also restricted to lesser audio quality and are unable to download tracks for offline listening.
Who it’s best for: Those looking for new music recommendations and the ability to listen to songs on-demand on their PCs.
Pandora was one of the first music streaming services. It was one of the first services with an algorithmically designed recommendation engine that learned what you liked and recommended new songs in a radio-style stream when it originally started.
Pandora now offers a premium tier that allows users to listen to songs on demand, but the free service that made it famous in the early 2000s is still available. With thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons, you can customize stations based on genres, artists, and songs, and train them to your preferences. After a few songs, you’ll have to listen to advertisements.
Drawbacks: If you want to listen to a specific song, skip backward on a radio station, or repeat a tune you just listened to on the free version of Pandora, you’ll have to sit through an ad. You can only skip tracks a certain number of times, and free users can’t create or share playlists.
Who it’s perfect for People who want to listen to music like they would on a radio station and discover new songs and artists.
Idagio is solely dedicated to classical music. Other platforms may have difficulty organizing classical music since they overlook conductors, soloists, and individual sections within a bigger composition. Idagio takes care of everything with a user interface designed from the ground up for classical music.
Read: The top music streaming services 2021
You don’t have to be an expert on Brahms to enjoy the service, especially since it’s free. You may listen to Idagio’s whole catalog for free, as well as access playlists and recommendations tailored to various moods and situations.
As you use Idagio, it suggests songs depending on your preferences. Although classical music is a broad genre that spans centuries, the service makes it simple to pick something you’ll enjoy.
Drawbacks: For starters, it’s solely classical music. Also, free users will only be able to listen to playlists and radio stations on the app; but, if you use a web browser, you can play individual tracks with a free account. On the free tier, Idagio customers are unable to stream high-fidelity audio files, as is the case with other providers. And unless you sign up for a premium membership, you won’t be able to listen to Idagio on some speakers that stream over WiFi, like Sonos. Bluetooth-enabled devices are not restricted in any way.
It’s perfect for Classical music aficionados or anyone interested in learning more about the genre.
Amazon Prime Music
Amazon Prime Music isn’t technically free. It does, however, come with a service that millions of Americans already pay for.
Amazon Prime Music is a full-fledged music service with few of the drawbacks found in rival streaming platforms’ free versions. There are no advertisements, and you can skip as many tracks as you want. You can even download music to listen to later. Based on what you listen to, Prime Music features playlists and personalized recommendations. Unlike some other services’ free tiers, such as Spotify, there is no discernible difference between listening on the mobile app and listening on the desktop browser.
Cons: You may only listen to 2 million songs on Amazon Prime Music. Although this may appear to be a large number, it pales in comparison to the libraries of most other streaming services, including Amazon’s premium streaming service, Amazon Music Unlimited, which boasts a library of 75 million songs. You won’t discover all of your favorite songs on Prime Music, but you should be able to find something you enjoy.