Spotify

Since 2008, Spotify has set the bar high for music streaming services and is often seen as the ultimate way to access all your songs in one place. After the 30 day free trial period, it’s £9.99 a month (£4.99 for students or £14.99 for a family subscription) and you have free reign over 40 million songs and can control exactly when and how you want to listen to them.

If you don’t want to pay the £9.99 a month fee for Spotify Premium, then you can still listen with the free version. You still have access to the millions of songs on the system, but you lose the control to listen to them exactly how you want to. Free can only skip six songs an hour, for example. But that’s not too much of a problem if you’re listening to your favourite artists and albums.

Spotify is great for both discovering new music and throwing you back to your old-school favourites to bring those memories flooding back.

Spotify curates playlists for you. “Discover Weekly” refreshes every Monday based on what the algorithms think you’ll like; based on your taste and those of people like you. Your Daily Mix changes each day with different tracks you’ve been listening to recently and curated tracks from those artists you’ve been playing too.

For your money, you receive a better audio quality, voice playback on Google Assistant and Alexa devices, with the ability to play and download to your phone for offline listening of any song you wish. It’s everything you need in a music streaming app.

A big selling point for Spotify is that it’s supported by many different devices. This means that wherever you go, Spotify can go with you. This has gradually advanced from being able to listen on a standard desktop or mobile device. Spotify works with wireless speakers like Sonos, Bose, Amazon and Google. Plus, it works on different devices like smart TVs and video games consoles.

So, you’ve found the perfect playlist and want to share it with your friends? The app makes it easy to share a playlist over everything from Facebook Messenger to Skype. Spotify allows you to add friends and see what they’re listening to too.

Man listening to music on sofa

Deezer

Until the emergence of Apple Music, Deezer was the second biggest on-demand streaming service after Spotify. Deezer has users from all around the globe, plus has signed up many of its users through deals with mobile operators and bundling the streaming service into mobile phone contracts.

Deezer does all the required basics of a music streaming service well, for £9.99 a month. Their artist and song recommendations feature has improved drastically, albeit still not as quickly as Spotify’s. The streaming service promotes playlists created by its own editors, outside labels and others.

The app includes a Mixes feature which blends the songs you like with its own recommendations. But if you prefer simply pressing play and kicking back, a personalised mix based on the songs and artists you’ve favourited will start to play through. It’s a flow of similar tracks of familiar songs and artists, like Spotify’s Daily Mix playlists.

Deezer has a great collection of news and entertainment podcasts and has even moved into live sport. You can listen to live match commentary provided by radio partners like TalkSport. Deezer’s the first music streaming service to allow this.

Tidal

Made by musicians for serious music lovers, Tidal is owned by famous artists such as Jay-Z, Beyonce and Rihanna. The app offers the largest catalogue of songs of any other streaming service with over 56 million songs.

Like Deezer, Tidal does all the basic requirements really well. However, it’s the little details which differentiate Tidal and make it something special. Subscribers will have access to livestreams, concerts and other events.

Tidal has exclusive rights to certain big names. This means that this is the only place that you can easily access artists such as Jay-Z and Beyonce’s music. Though with some artists, these exclusive rights may only last a week or two.

Pricing for Tidal is similar to others and starts at £9.99 a month. However, for the serious audio geeks, for £19.99 you can access the completely lossless, CD-quality music that gives crystal-clear listening. This may seem a little bit expensive for just added music quality, but if you’re serious about your sound quality, it’ll definitely be worth it. If you’ve invested in a high-quality Sonos system for your home, it makes sense to get the best out of your hardware.

Listening to music on phone

Apple Music

Apple Music is perfect for people who already use Apple products, but can be hard to get to grips with for Android and other device users. From an iPhone, you can control Apple Music straight from Siri, so you don’t have to waste time pressing around searching and can demand exactly what you want.

It has an extended free trial period of three months before you have to start to pay. Which is great as you can come to terms with the app inside out before starting to pay for your subscription. A big thing here is that three months is enough time for the algorithm to start learning your preferences.

Despite its critics, Apple Music is a great streaming option. With over 45 million songs, it offers different ways of discovering new music. Different radio channels and playlists are both curated and produced by an algorithm to suit your needs. And some big names host shows on Beat 1, the in-house Apple radio station, such as Sir Elton John and Zane Lowe, amongst others.

iTunes Match is great for people with large music collections. Match stores your entire music library on the cloud so you can access it from anywhere you like. This is a great companion feature to a streaming service and allows you to tune into your favourite albums at any given time you like. It costs £25 per year which is very reasonable as there’s no limits on how big your library can be.

Price wise, it’s similar to the other products on the market. After the three month trial period, it’s £9.99 per month, with a family subscription for £14.99 per month and a student plan for just £4.99. 

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