The Battle of Music Streaming Services

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The undisputed king of music streaming. Launched in 2008, it was the first music streaming service to gain worldwide recognition and has gone on to become the market leader with 20 million users. With apps for iPhone, Android and Windows phones it has most users covered.

Spotify  has deals with all the major record labels, meaning you won’t be short of new music to listen to. Spotify offers a free service which allows users to listen to any song on the desktop software (althoughyouwillhearalotofadverts).

Premium users have the ability to make a song play offline. This can be done on laptops, tablets and phones, and the big bonus is premium gets rid of the annoying ads. The cost? £9.99 a month for most, but being a student means you can get it for £5 with either Unidays or NUS extra!

Overall, Spotify is hard to beat. As the only service which offers discount to students, it makes it half the price of the other services on this list. Integration with Facebook makes sharing your listening habits easy (if that’s what you’re into) and the song and artist radio service is pretty impressive at finding new songs that you might enjoy.

Apple Music

A newcomer to music streaming world, Apple has left it late to bring out a music streaming service. After being the dominant force in the music purchasing world for so many years, Apple has started to see a decline in revenue from their iTunes store as more people ditch purchasing music and choose to stream it instead. But can it compete with Spotify?

In terms of how much music it can offer Apple and Spotify have almost identical libraries. TaylorSwift, the one big artist missing from Spotify, can be listened to on Apple music. Apple’s app also allows you to play your own music on your phone in the same app. However,these are probably the only difference you will notice, as they don’t really have anything that they do better than Spotify.

At £10 a month, it’s a hard sell compared to the £5 a month for Spotify (that’s with student discount though), and the app comes pre-loaded on iPhones. There’s currently no Android app, although Apple will be releasing one later in the year. Like Spotify, there is the ability to store songs for offline access.

Google Play – All Access Music

Similar to Apple music, Google allows you to integrate the music you have purchased into Google’s own streaming catalogue, but Google allows you to upload 50,000 tracks to the cloud, and is a feature available to both free and premium users. It’s something that is handy if you have a specialist taste in music with an extensive music catalogue.

Apps are available for Apple devices and Android, and Premium membership is £9.99 per month. There’s no student discount though, so it’s hard to recommend it over Spotify.

Tidal and Qobuz

Tidal and Qobuz are both ‘Lossless’ streaming services, which is a rather complicated idea, but essentially it’s similar to the difference between HD video and SD video. Lossless music has more data, therefore the music sounds better. The downside is that the files are about 4 to 8 times as big as an MP3, and you need high quality equipment to hear a difference. The majority of phones, computers and tablets simply do not have the built in equipment to be able to show off the benefits of Lossless music. Most audio experts agree that you also need a pair of £200+ ‘reference level’ headphones to be able to even start to hear a difference between Lossless and MP3s (and no – Beats by Dre headphones don’t count as reference level headphones). The prices aren’t exactly bank balance friendly either at £19.99 a month!

So it’s expensive, the files are larger (thus using more of your data usage or devices space) and you might not be able to hear a difference. However, if you do have good equipment, headphones and want to listen to music in its best form then this is might be the service for you.

Amazon Prime Music

This is free with an Amazon Prime subscription. So, let’s do some maths: Spotify (with student discount) + Netflix = £155.88 for the whole year. Amazon prime is £70 for the whole year. You get next day parcel delivery, a Netflix style TV and movie streaming service and music streaming. No brainer, right?! No, not quite…

Amazon hasn’t signed up all the major record labels, and as a result it’s missing most of the music from Universal Music, who represent artists from Drake to Katy Perry. They’re working on a deal with them, but their choices for streaming are severely limited. Yet, at half the price of a Spotify and Netflix subscription (plus free next day shipping), you might be prepared to forgo a huge music library.

The Winner

There are even more streaming services out there; Radio, Napster and Microsoft Groove to name but a few, but you can probably tell that the winner is, and always has been Spotify. Next time, it will be Netflix vs The Rest – and it’s going to be a much more even fight!

Aaron Macarthy Beards

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