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Which Music Streaming Service Is the Best?

Music discovery galore.

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Not too long ago, you had to pay to download your music — one song or album at a time. Now, we stream any song we want, thanks to the wonders of internet radio. Pandora began this revolution in 2005, with curated radio stations; listeners didn’t have to name a specific artist to find music to listen to, they just asked the Pandora algorithm. Now, Pandora has a bit of company, and with more than 20 different services out there, it’s a busy world to navigate. To help find your way, we broke down and judged the six most popular, based on features and value.

Spotify

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Cost: Free (with ads), 30-day free trial, or $10/month for “Premium.”
User Sharing: $5/month for each additional user, supporting up to 5 users.
The Details: With over 100 million active listeners, Spotify is a very popular choice. It has a clean look with intuitive design features both on desktop and mobile, and offers over 30 million songs. Users will love finding new music with the “Discover Weekly” playlist (or radios generated from any artist or even song), and Spotify lets you listen across multiple devices easily. The premium version removes ads, lets users download any song and unlocks access to higher quality audio files.
Pro Tip: A handy feature of Spotify’s running playlists is that they can be set exactly to your pace. Using data from your phone’s gyroscope, Spotify can detect your cadence and play songs that have similar BPMs (beats per minute).

Learn More: Here

Apple Music

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Cost: 3 month free trial, then $10/month.
User Sharing: $15/month for up to 6 users.
The Details: Apple’s music service is an obvious choice for those who want to stay inside the company’s ecosystem. It may only have a fraction of the listeners compared to some of its competitors, but that’s the result of forcing users to listen in iTunes or the default Apple Music app. One thing that does separate Apple Music from the competition is that they have a team of “tastemakers” who hand select music recommendations for users. This is less common among other services, and although it’s definitely more personalized, it’s hard to say if it’s more beneficial than an algorithm. Users can also enjoy the occasional releases exclusive to Apple Music such as albums from Taylor Swift and Drake.
Pro Tip: Yes, you can access your music easily between your iPhone, Macbook and Apple Watch — but your Apple TV and CarPlay system will also have your entire library. No more fussing with an auxiliary cord or Bluetooth.

Learn More: Here

Google Play Music

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Cost: 30-day free trial, then $10/month.
User Sharing: $15/month for up to 6 users.
The Details: Boasting a similar catalog of music to Spotify (30 million songs), Google’s standout feature is the ease with which users can upload and store their own personal music libraries, which live alongside new music coming out regularly. Beyond that, the features are nearly identical to those of Spotify, Amazon or Pandora.
Pro Tip: If you are someone who’s amassed a huge music library, use Google Play Music to store up to 50,000 songs and access them anywhere. This also saves space on hard drives and cloud storage you may already be using.

Learn More: Here

Honorable Mentions
For discovering more new music, also try: SoundCloud, BandCamp, or YouTube.

Amazon Music Unlimited

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Cost: 30 day free trial, then $8/month with Prime membership, $10/month without.
User Sharing: $15/month for up to 6 users.
The Details: Every Amazon Prime membership includes Prime Music as a baseline. Members then gain discounted access to a “premium” music streaming service, where upgrading turns the basic Prime Music into Amazon Music Unlimited. This provides more titles, downloadable tracks, and more discovery features — but, frankly, no features offered that you can’t get elsewhere.
Pro Tip: You might already have a coupon for $2/month off. If you’re paying for a Prime membership right now, this might be the most cost-effective option.

Learn More: Here

Pandora

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Cost: Free (with ads), “Plus” $5/month, “Premium” $10/month
User Sharing: None.
The Details: Pandora pioneered the idea of discovering new music via online stations and the Music Genome Project, which is supposedly the best music discovery system there is. Premium gives listeners unique playlists; it also allows users to download any song, while Plus only allows specific radio stations to be downloaded.
Pro Tip: Since Pandora invented the method of assigning attributes and tags to a song, users can expect excellent suggestions when discovering new music.

Learn More: Here

Tidal

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Cost: Free 30-day trial; Premium for $10/month; HiFi for $20/month.
User Sharing: Up to four users for either type of account.
The Details: Known primarily as the streaming service that Jay-Z created, Tidal launched in 2009, billed as the highest-quality streaming service out there. Both price points include the same music library, but users can stream lossless audio files with a HiFi account. Unfortunately, Tidal users have reported a fairly buggy experience, and the company has been accused of lying about their active user figures — which in reality is around 1 million rather than the 3 million reported in 2015.
Pro Tip: Tidal has many HD music videos and live shows included with the subscription. They are the only streaming service to offer high quality video in addition to audio tracks.

Learn More: Here

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