With so many choices, which music streaming service is right for you?
For the past decade, music streaming services have dominated the scene. Some let you listen for free, others charge a premium price. Some, both. A major factor in choosing a music streaming service is available content. We've got a list of the best music streaming services for the iPhone and why each one matters.
Apple launched its own streaming music service, Apple Music, in June of 2015. With a monthly subscription of $9.99 ($14.99 for the family plan), you can stream a massive amount of music from the company's long-standing artist catalogue and download content for offline listening. Plus, you'll get custom playlists that are curated to your personal tastes based on your past listening activities. You'll also get access to Beats 1, which is a 24-hour per day worldwide radio station with celebrity deejays spinning their favorite hits. It's got everything you'd want in a music service and looks great, too.
If you are deeply integrated with the Apple ecosystem, that is you've got an iPhone, iPad, Mac computer, and Apple TV (or some combination of the like), then Apple Music is the best choice for you.
Spotify is one of the largest music streaming services around and is arguably the biggest competitor for Apple Music. With a monthly subscription of $9.99 ($4.99 per additional family member), You can stream music from the company's huge catalogue and download content for offline listening. One benefit of Spotify is that there is a free tier that allows you to listen to anything in shuffle mode on iPhone and iPad without having to pay for it.
If you don't want Apple Music, but still want all the music, your best choice is Spotify.
Free or $9.99 per month (free for first 30-days) - Download now
Remember when Kanye West said his new album, "Life of Pablo," would never never never be on Apple? That's because it is an exclusive release on Jay Z's music streaming service, TIDAL. This new-ish service is making a name for itself in the world of streaming media with exclusive content, playlists curated by super stars, and artist-first compensation. It is also full of new and popular music video content. You can stream MP3 quality tracks for $9.99 per month, or upgrade to the High-Fidelity tier for CD-quality songs. The curated content is heavily focused on hip-hop, R&B, and soul music, but TIDAL has access to a wide variety of genres. It isn't quite a robust as Apple Music or Spotify, but has the potential to grow. Some fun celebrity playlists include favorites from Jay Z, Beyoncé, Macklemore, and others.
Even though it covers many genres, If hip-hop, R&B, and soul are your favorite sounds, you will love TIDAL.
$9.99 - $19.99 per month (free for first 30-days) - Download now
Amazon Music with Amazon Prime
If you have Amazon Prime the Amazon Music app is amazing. You have your pick of songs from the company's vast catalogue. You can stream music online or download tracks to listen offline. Music is recommended to you based on your past listening activities and there are playlists for all manner of activities, like reading books, dinner parties, and more. You can listen to stations based on such themes as "All '80s," "Classic Rock," "Baroque," and stations with artists like The Beatles and Bruno Mars. Amazon Music provides an incredibly broad selection of music, although it doesn't quite go deep enough into some sub-genres.
If you have Amazon Prime, you definitely want this app. Even if you pay for another music service, it's worth having around simply because it is included with the cost of your membership.
Pandora is all about music discovery, and does it better than most. It aggregates content based on the Music Genome Project's attribute algorithm. You may prefer personally crafted playlists by real people, but Pandora's lack of human interaction produces content you didn't even know you liked. The key is to hitting the "Thumbs Up" or "Thumbs Down" on every song so that you can hone your station to fit your style. Pandora only offers radio-style streaming. You can skip a few songs per day (or get unlimited skips with a subscription), but you can't listen to a full album or download music offline. The joy is in sitting back and listening to hours of music without having to stop and find a new station.
One great thing about Pandora is that you can buy out of advertisements on a per-day basis. So, if you want to stream a station at a party, you can spend $0.99 to go ad-free for just the day.
If you like the idea of letting a complex algorithm set your day's tone so you don't have to do any of the work finding something to listen to, let Pandora take you on a musical exploration.
Free or $4.99 per month (or ad-free for a day for $0.99) - Download now
SoundCloud is a great way to discover new independent artists, listen to new tracks from popular musicians, and connect with other music fans. It is also a way for musicians to get their songs out to the world without needing a record contract. It is heavily structured with a social aspect. SoundCloud is everything Apple Music wishes it could be when it comes to connecting artists with fans. You can follow your friends and bands, add songs to your favorites, and create playlists. Your followers can also listen to a stream of music you have reposted or uploaded yourself. The key to getting the most out of SoundCloud is building up a healthy social feed.
If you are a musician, a friend of a musician, a lover of independent music, or the kind of person that likes to talk about music at parties, get SoundCloud.
YouTube Music is all about the videos. But, at the same time, you don't have to watch the videos. You can make it all about the music if you want to. It is YouTube, but really it is a music app first. You'll get recommendations based on your past listening activities. Plus, you can check out what's new and trending in the "Hot List" section. Tracks you like go in the Favorites section so you can quickly access them in the future. Music autoplays in playlists based on albums, artists, and genres. The music discovery is limited to top 40 hits and music that is trending on YouTube, but if you know what you are looking for, chances are you'll find it. With the YouTube Red subscription, you can listen to music without the video playing and continue in the background with the app closed. Of course, YouTube Red is ad-free.
If you know what you want to listen to, or are a big fan of music videos, check out YouTube Music.
Because I live in the U.S., Deezer is not currently available to me (although the app is available in the U.S. App Store). However, I know that it is much-beloved around the world, and so I couldn't leave it off of the list, even though I am not experienced with it. What I do know is that it is deeply integrated with Sonos, and it recently received an update with Apple Watch support. If you use Deezer, help me out by listing some of the things you love about it in the comments section.