Since the spread of the first platforms for listening to streaming music, it has been debated on which were the best services. After all, there is no doubt that the spread of digital use – and let’s talk about the legal one – of music on the web has literally revolutionized the discography. To date, it is unthinkable to launch a product on the market without questioning how it is “read” by algorithms and byoligarchy of playlists. A complex discourse, which however we have extensively examined in a dedicated article.
Today we want to return to the primordial question of this guide: what are the best services for streaming music? The offer is decidedly vast, including expensive paid plans, almost unlimited catalogs and promises of “an unprecedented audio experience”. To understand what the best music streaming services can be we have therefore decided to compare the various platforms.
In doing so we took into consideration all the factors: the cost of subscriptions, the quality of reproduction, additional services and even an ethical question: how much a given platform values the work of artists. The result is one definitive guide looking for the best services to listen to streaming music, with lots of pros and cons.
Best Music Streaming Services – The Ultimate Guide
We could only start with what is the most popular of the audio streaming platforms. Founded in 2006 in Sweden, Spotify he is a bit like the father (but also the pope) of music streaming services. The controversial story of him is well told in The Playlist, a Netflix mini-series dedicated to the Swedish giant. In recent years, however, Spotify has become much more, disconnecting from its role as “only music platform” and focusing his efforts also on the world of podcasts. Spotify is also at the heart of numerous controversies regarding the remuneration reserved for artists (royalties). According to a recent survey, the platform would pay almost half that of Apple Music. Worse than her, according to the same investigation, only Pandora.
Spotify’s great success lies in its algorithm, which currently makes it a leading player in the global record market. Its playlists, discovery features, extensive podcast catalog, and much-loved Wrapped – which annually sums up users’ musical year – make it a platform for streaming music particularly appreciated by usersto the detriment of the aforementioned royalty disputes.
Con more than 82 million songs in the catalog – and with all due respect to Neil Young who has withdrawn his songs from the service – Spotify is certainly the most popular music streaming service, but is it among the best? The platform guarantees listening in the formats MP3, M4P ed MP4 In virtue 320kbps for Premium users (and only 96kbps for the Free ones). The company recently announced the imminent launch of a Hi-Fi feature, with higher quality playback, without packet loss, which however is not yet active.
- Free: Playback at 96kbps with advertisements and random play from mobile devices
- Student: 4.99 € per month, for students only, maximum 1 account (320 kbps)
- Duo: 12.99 € per month, maximum 2 accounts (320 kbps)
- Premium: 9,90 € per month with the possibility of listening to offline music (320 kbps)
- Spotify Family (up to 6 accounts): 15,99€ per month (320 kbps)
- Extensive catalog
- Lots of podcasts
- Free plan
- Playlist dedicate e discover weekly
- Listenable anywhere, even offline
- App for all devices (mobile, smart TV, car and desktop)
- Reproduction quality
- No FLAC format
- Controversial royalty management
- Free plan with too many ads
- More and more a Podcast platform
- Awkward mobile free plan
In general, we would like to recommend Spotify to casual listeners, who have no high quality claims, and who are looking for both music and podcasts in a single app.
Jay-Z’s proprietary music streaming platform is certainly among the best services currently out there. Tidalwhich already offered above-average listening quality, recently introduced the Hi-Fi playback without packet loss. The encoding format is in fact the FLACwhich is the most faithful can come out, digitally, from a mastering studio (the last act of the musical post-production phase). In addition, Tidal also supports AAC and ALAC formats. The audio is certified Master Quality Authenticated (MQA).
The Tidal catalog consists of over 90 million songs, with a quality 1411 kbps (for the basic plan called Hi-Fi) which goes up to 9216 kbps for the Premium Hi-Fi Plus plan.
Tidal also arises in first place among the giants of streaming for royalties paid to artists, which also makes it loved by professionals. Everything comes at a price though, and Tidal’s Premium membership is among the most expensive around. Plus the service it does not include a free plan for Italyalthough it does offer a 30-day free trial period.
- hi-fi: month free trial + € 9.99 per month (1411 kbps)
- Hi-Fi Plus: month free trial + € 19.99 per month (9216 kbps MQA) with direct payment to the artists
- Student: 50% discount on Hi-Fi and Hi-Fi Plus plans for students
- Family (up to 6 accounts): month free trial + € 14.99 per month for Tidal Hi-Fi and € 29.99 per month for Tidal Hi-Fi Plus
- Audio quality up to 9216kbps
- FLAC (Hi-Fi) format
- Extensive music catalog
- Live concerts
- Attention to the remuneration of the artists
- Free month
- There is no free plan for Italy
- High cost
- Not very comfortable app
Tidal is the ideal choice for lovers of uncompromising music listening, in high quality, at the expense of a much higher than average price. Definitely among the best services, if not the best, for listening to streaming music.
The best music streaming platform for those who experience the entire Apple ecosystem it’s surely Apple Music, which ranks second after Spotify by number of users. The service recently added Spatial Audio and Lossless features, which allow listening in superior quality without price supplements. Like Spotify, Apple Music uses a system of algorithms that recognizes users’ musical tastes, offering them playlists and mixes. Unlike the Swedish giant, however, it does not include a free planalthough users can try the service with the one month free trial.
Apple Music did not disclose the bitrate it uses for its streams, but this should be around 256Kbps. In fact, listening to the tracks sound decidedly clean, especially when compared with its major competitor Spotify. The format reproduced is ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) which matches the FLAC with resolutions ranging from 16 bit / 44.1 kHz (CD quality) up to 24 bit / 192 kHz. According to the recent survey above, Apple Music would pay artists twice as much royalties as Spotifyfinishing in second place after Tidal in this special ranking.
- Voice: month free trial + € 4.99 per monthwith unlimited skips and dedicated playlists via Siri (no Spatial Audio, no Lossless)
- Student: month free trial + € 5.99 per month with all the services of the individual plan (Spatial Audio + Lossless)
- Individual: month free trial + € 10.99 per month
- Family (up to 6 accounts): month free trial + € 16.99 per month
- Acceptable audio quality
- Spatial Audio e Lossless inclusi
- Catalog with about 90 million songs
- Playlist and intelligent algorithm
- Average prices
- It communicates perfectly with all Apple devices
- A free plan is missing
- Uncomfortable for those who don’t use Apple devices
This is definitely the ideal choice for those who blindly believe in Apple and use devices, headphones and accessories with the big bitten apple logo.
Amazon Music Unlimited
Amazon does not sell services, but service packages. With the possibility of benefiting from a modest discount for subscribers to Amazon Prime (for which access to the Amazon Music catalog with limited functionality is provided), Amazon Music Unlimited it is placed in that market niche of those looking for a valid alternative to Spotify. The mobile app is very pleasant although it often has some bugs, while the extensions are compatible with practically all modern devices. Needless to underline the convenient integrations with proprietary devices (such as Echo Dot and Echo Show which will make Alexa our personal disc jokey).
The Amazon Music Unlimited catalog is slightly more limited than its competitors (around 75 million songs), but it will rarely be difficult to find the music of the most renowned artists. The playback quality has significantly improved in recent years, going from 320Kbps to HD audio which can go up to 850Kbps. Service it does not include a free plan, but offers the canonical trial month.
- Prime Music: Amazon Prime subscribers have access to the entire catalog but playback is limited to mobile random mode.
- Amazon Music Unlimited: month free + € 10.99 per month (€ 9.99 for Amazon Prime subscribers).
- Family (up to 6 accounts): month free + € 14.90 per month
- Benefits for Prime Subscribers
- Integration with Alexa