Streaming platforms are now believed to account for over 80% of music listening around the world. With music streaming being so popular, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of platforms to choose from. If you want to subscribe to a music streaming service, it can be hard to know which one to choose. In this article, we’ll compare six popular platforms.
Millions around the world already use Amazon for music, whether it’s buying physical or digital tracks/albums or streaming with a Prime subscription. The interface is easy to navigate, and it’s compatible with all kinds of devices.
Amazon Music is available in three different plans — Free, Prime, and Unlimited. As highlighted in ExpressVPN’s blog piece, the Free plan limits users to certain songs and includes ads, the Prime plan is ad-free and has 100 million songs, and the Unlimited plan also offers songs in 24-bit audio and spatial audio.
With musicians and music fans, YouTube is popular. Its music streaming service aims to offer music lovers an even greater level of functionality. YouTube Music offers over 80 million tracks for you to stream. For the techies among you, when it comes to sound quality, the platform lets you stream in 128kbps AAC or 256kbps AAC, which is comparable to most other streaming services.
YouTube Music is included with YouTube Premium, but you can also subscribe to the music service without a Premium subscription. Its commenting function, subscription options, and purely the fact that it’s been around so long means people are familiar with how it works – which is basically like a video-driven social media platform. While many users love having their video and audio streaming all under one “roof,” others have criticized Google’s privacy policies.
Tidal is known best for being partially founded and promoted by rapper Jay-Z and offering extremely high audio quality. It offers four levels of quality — 160 kbps, 320 kbps, 1411 kbps, and a “Master” option where 1411 kbps is the minimum. As well as quality, Tidal offers quantity — it has over 100 million tracks for you to listen to.
The platform’s high audio quality, transparent privacy policies, and commitment to paying artists fairly do come at a cost to the user — at the time of writing, and it’s one of the most expensive music streaming platforms.
Deezer offers a free plan, in case you want to save money, although this limits how many times you can skip songs in an hour and only lets you listen to 30-second snippets of certain tracks. It also offers paid options and a library of over 90 million tracks. For the free plan, audio quality is capped at 128 kbps, while the Premium plan can reach 320 kbps. There’s also a Family version of the Premium plan if you want to use multiple accounts for your household.
Deezer also offers a useful feature called SongCatcher, which detects music around you and displays the song that’s playing. The SongCatcher feature can now even detect singing and humming tunes.
Pandora is best known for its recommendation algorithm, which helps you discover new artists in genres from folktronica to sludge metal and anything and everything in between. However, it’s worth noting that Pandora is only available to users in the US.
Pandora offers a free version with ads and a Premium subscription without. The Premium plan also lets you listen to music in 192 kbps, while the free plan caps quality at 64 kbps. Its library totals around 50 million tracks.
Bandcamp is extremely popular with musicians looking to host and promote their own music. It’s also a great way for listeners to discover new artists and to support the artists they already love. Subscribing to an artist on Bandcamp sends them more than just good vibes — it helps them get paid for their art.
Bandcamp works a little differently from other platforms — artists upload tracks for you to listen to for free but can choose to charge you to purchase tracks or to subscribe to their catalogs for monthly or annual fees. The sound quality for streaming is 128 kbps, but you can listen to tracks in lossless audio if you download them.
While many listeners will choose one of the “Big Two” platforms (Apple Music and Spotify), opting for a different music streaming service has plenty of benefits. For example, Amazon Music and YouTube Music can be great for those who already use Amazon or YouTube and want to integrate their music listening into the same interfaces. Tidal is great for audiophiles, Bandcamp for supporting artists, and Pandora and Deezer for specific unique features. It’s worth exploring the options to find what best suits your needs.