Just a few years ago it was a big deal to be able to purchase music digitally on iTunes and other similar services. You could purchase individual songs instead of entire albums, and it was amazing. Now, things have been taken a step further and you can now pay a monthly subscription fee and have access to huge collections of music. You can save songs to your own library, create playlists, explore related music, and listen to radio stations based off of a song, album, or artist. Whether you are a casual listener or spend a lot of time searching for new songs, then one of these subscription services may be perfect for you.
Just about all of the music subscription services available right now are only $9.99 a month($14.99 for family plans of 5+). This is generally cheaper then buying one new album every month. Instead of spending that money on a new album and having 10-20 new songs, you can have access to millions-and I mean millions-of songs. Spotify, which was the first majorly popular streaming service, has over 30 million songs in their catalog.
That all sounds wonderful, I know. But the question is which service is right for you? To answer that we should break down a few of the popular options.
Spotify was the trend setter for the music subscription and streaming industry. They were not the first, but they definitely did it best. In fact, they did it so well that I subscribed to Spotify a couple years after they launched and have been a subscriber since then. Spotify works on every platform: has great apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. And if you can’t download the app, they offer a web player as well.
Spotify’s big thing when they launched was turning music into a social experience. Since then that aspect has been downplayed, but still exists. You can share music, follow other users, make collaborative playlists, and much more. Spotify also offers the ability to download music so that you can listen to it offline, listen to high quality music at 320kbps(basically the highest quality MP3), and much more.
I would recommend Spotify as a great option for everyone. It’s a spectacular service.
Apple decided to jump on the bandwagon and within the last few years released Apple Music which gives you access to most of iTune’s absolutely massive music collection. Apple Music is a spectacular option for those invested in the Apple ecosystem. It has most of the features that Spotify has, plus astonishing integration with your current iTunes library. Apple Music offers a feature called iCloud Music Library, which matches all of the songs on your computers with Apple’s music library and synchronizes them accross all of your devices. This is great if you have some very obscure music that you love that is not available on Apple Music. Since Apple loves integration, Apple Music is available within iTunes on Mac and Windows, the Music app on iOS, and the Music app on Apple TV. There is also an Android app, so you Android users aren’t being left out.
Ultimately, I would recommend this for those who use mostly Apple products. It has far better integration with the Apple ecosystem than other services.
Google Play Music
Of course, Google has also thrown it’s hat into the ring with Google Play Music. Originally this service was released as an online music locker of sorts. You could store up to 20,000 songs in the cloud and stream them to your devices for free. More recently Google updated the service to include a full music library with a number of songs comparable to Spotify and Apple Music. Google has a history of making great services for free or very low cost and Google Play Music is no exception. It’s integration with Android is outstanding, but unfortunately Google does not offer a desktop app on either Mac or Windows so you will have to use your browser to access your music library on your computer. However, they do have an iOS app, so you shouldn’t have any problems using the service across multiple devices and platforms. Just like Apple Music, Google Play Music will upload all of the music already on your computer to the cloud for easy migration.
I would recommend Google Play Music if you are an Android user, are invested in the Google ecosystem, or simply want a no frills option that doesn’t require additional apps installed on your computer to use.
Amazon Prime Music
Amazon has now launched their iteration of a music streaming service. What’s really cool about this option is that if you are already an Amazon Prime subscriber or have considered subscribing in the past then you will get access to Amazon Prime Music included with your Amazon Prime subscription. This really kills two birds with one stone since, in my opinion, the Amazon Prime subscription is worthwhile even without Amazon Prime Music.
The negative to this service is that it has a somewhat limited library as of writing this. They have a little over 2 million songs. This seems like a lot, but when you look at Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music which all have over 30 million songs, it ends up seeming rather lackluster. However, don’t count the service out especially if you aren’t someone who constantly looks for new and obscure music.
Amazon Prime Music works on most platforms with apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and many Smart TV platforms.
When it comes to making a decision between one or the other you should consider your needs, expected usage, and devices that you will be using most frequently. For example, someone may use exclusively Apple products, or has a large music collection in iTunes. Apple Music would fit their needs. Whatever you choose, you’ll love it.