Today there might be one artist, but tons of ways to listen to their music. We've tested 9 music streaming services with the same set of songs and evaluated them by 15 parameters. These include usability, sound quality, and price. Read what we've come up with and, please, let us know in the comments what we should add.
Turn on the music and let's go!
So, if you don't want to know any details, check out a short summary of our tests below. Those who are interested in the nitty-gritty of music streaming and would like to see a detailed comparison of the services' parameters, check the table towards the end of the article.
|Subscription cost per month||~ $2.25||~ $2.25||~ $2.60||$9.99||$9.99||$11.99||from $8||$9.90||$9.99|
|Trial period||1 month||1 month||3 months||3 months||1 month||1 month||30 days||30 days||1 month|
|Media Library||-||about 25 million||about 35 million||45 million||53 million||-||125 million||30 million||56 million|
|Lyrics||Yes (with limitations)||Limited||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Only inside the application and limited||No|
|Download and listen to music offline||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Ability to upload your music||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Only playlists from Sundyz service|
Apple Music has a friendly ecosystem and a popular brand. The service was launched in 2015, but it took only a couple of years to get close to the king of streaming - Spotify (based on the number of users). How did Apple do it? It's simple! Spotify doesn't make its own "hardware" on which you can listen to music! =)
Registration on Apple devices is not required (if you already have an Apple ID), the service is installed by default. But the application obviously doesn't work too well with the Android systems. You can log in, of course, only through Apple ID, but it does not always work from the first time. Also, the service sometimes freezes and crashes. To use the program on a PC, you will need to download and install iTunes. Then you need to create an account or log in with the existing one. The user interface is convenient and quite easy to understand.
Free version and Apple subscription
For the first three months you can go with the free trial, then the service will begin to withdraw $9.99 a month from a credit card (you will have to tie it into the service). The family rate can be shared between 6 people and costs $14.99. If you're a student and have a registration in the university's domain, you can pay only $4.99. Also, you can just write to tech support, attaching your student ID. Besides the initial three months at Apple Music, you will not find a freebie – free music listening is not an option here.
Pros and Cons of Apple Music
➕ 45 million tracks (as stated in the catalog);
➕ no advertising;
➕ the ability to download tracks to the device and listen offline;
➕ automatic selection of new promising artists in your favorite genre;
➕ videos of hit songs from different decades and contemporary artists;
➕ playlists based on user preferences;
➕ there are lots children songs in English, which is a useful feature not only for parents who want to teach their kids this popular language but also for all learners: children's English songs are very easy to understand and memorize;
➕ "Connect" social network - allows you to follow the news and updates from artists and curators, share your favorite music with your friends;
➕ the proprietary audio format Apple AAC with bitrate 256 kbit / s. The quality is like 320 kbit /s of the MP3 codec;
➕ some artists make their songs available exclusively on Apple Music because the Apple company likes to sign special contracts with artists for the exclusive stuff;
➕ there is censorship - without a special permission in the settings you can not listen to songs that contain explicit content;
➕ there are many children's songs in foreign languages, with lyrics;
➖ there is no proper web-version. You will need to install iTunes, which is quite heavy and can slow down the work of non-Apple devices;
➖ a poor equalizer in the mobile version with just a few settings;
➖ bad compatibility with Android-based devices, though this is a "con” only for the Andriod users.
Who will choose Apple Music?
First, Apple users. This music streaming service works and synchronizes perfectly with all Apple devices.
If you teach foreign languages to kids, then Apple Music has a rich selection of children's songs in English, French and other languages.
According to our calculations, the last track is over. Here's another energizing song for you to enjoy reading!😉👇
This is the general streaming service from Google created as a result of the merger of several programs - Google Play Music, YouTube Music, and YouTube Red.
Users of Android just need to initiate the application installed by default on their devices and subscribe. When you sign in from the browser, you need to create a Google account, if you do not already have one, then select the option "Try for free" on the main page of the service. To complete the registration, you will be asked to type in a credit card information, from which the monthly fee will be taken at the end of the trial period.
iOS users will need to download the YouTube Premium app, create a Google account and, as in the web version, add information about your credit card.
Free YouTube Premium and Subscription
The user is given one month to check and test all the benefits of the YouTube Premium application. Those who subscribed immediately after the launch of the service were lucky to receive three free months. If during the trial you fall in love with the Google music service then, for sure, sign for an individual subscription for $11.99 / per month.
The family option allows you to connect up to six people and pay $17.99 monthly - only $2.99 for each person. It is quite affordable for unlimited music listening and watching videos without any ads.
Pros and cons of YouTube Premium
➕ a large collection of music;
➕ watch any video on YouTube without ads;
➕ automatic collections in the user's favorite genres;
➕ curatorial playlists (they are made by authoritative music experts);
➕ simple access from any device and operating systems;
➕ the ability to save audio and video through the YouTube app to watch or listen to it offline. The content you download is available for one month;
➕ background music, videos, and movies playback;
➕ access to exclusive TV series and movies;
➖ a short period of the free trial compared to, for example, Apple Music;
➖ the work of suggestions algorithms is quite problematic
➖ the service was launched quite recently, it is still being developed and is still quite "raw".
For whom will it work?
For all Google adherents without exception, as well as fans of not only good music but also movies.
VK Music (Boom)
You can install the app through Google Play or App Store, sign in via your vk.com or Odnoklassniki account. If you do not have a personal page on any of these sites, you will be asked to go through a simple registration process right in the app. You can also register on one of the two social networks at first and then go to VK Music (Boom).
Free version and subscription
You can use the service without paying anything. At the same time, this will make the application practically useless. For example, you can not listen to music in the background and download tracks to your device. Not to mention that you will constantly have to listen to ads.
There is a 30 days trial version. A paid subscription costs 149 rubles (~$2.25) per month. To get it, go to the settings and select the option to change the monthly plan. There you can also cancel the subscription.
Pros & Cons of VK Music
➕ the ability to download tracks to the device and listen to them without an Internet connection;
➕ a huge number of tracks, among which are rare records and original remakes;
➕ the function of auto-matching music based on user preferences;
➕ user’s playlists;
➕ access to the music of friends and groups in vk.com;
➕ automatically saves to VK Music (Boom) the songs added to user’s profile in the VK and Odnoklassniki;
➕ the ability to publish music on the feed of a personal page, send via messages the lists and albums from user’s collection; also one can broadcast the songs in the profile status;
➕ there is a timer which mutes the music;
➖ there are no discount rates;
➖ there is a difference in sound quality and loudness of tracks that follow one another;
➖ there is no complete synchronization of the app with the vk.com page (songs added to Boom are not saved in the social network playlist);
➖ in comparison to the competitors the interface is not very user-friendly;
➖ it is impossible to search for albums (only for a specific artist or a track);
➖ many copies of the same track.
Who will choose VK Music?
Those who are looking for the unique compositions and those who often listen to their own playlists in Odnoklassniki and vk.com. However, the service is mostly for huge music fans who do not object recurring tracks and can get used to the not so user-friendly interface.
This music streaming service has the best library of Russian artists. There's a version for English-speaking users.
The app can be installed from the web page of Yandex.Music for Windows, Android, and iOS. The last two options are also available on Google Play and the App Store. Create an account on the Yandex homepage or register with one of the social networks: Twitter, vk.com, Google, Facebook.
To simply listen to music through this service, you do not need to create an account (it works only for the web version). But registration allows you to save your own collections, get recommendations, share music with friends and have access to their collections.
Free version and subscription to Yandex
The paid version of the application has significant advantages: the user gets access to downloading tracks to a mobile device and can forget about ads. The music is played in high quality: the subscription bitrate is 320 Kbps, whereas, with free use, the transfer speed is only 192 Kbps.
The trial version (with all the benefits of paid version) is available for three months. Next, they will start to take 169 rubles (~$2.60) per month if you choose to pay with credit card or Yandex.Money. For other payment methods, the amount will be increased. You can apply for an annual subscription which will cost you 1690 rubles (~$25.70).
Pros and Cons of Yandex.Music
➕ very low traffic consumption;
➕ the largest collection of songs of Russian artists (pro for fans of Russian music) and an extensive media library in general (about 35 million songs);
➕ users can create playlists, choose from a huge number of existing ones and download songs;
➕ there is a function of uploading tracks which are not in the media library;
➕ there is an option of transferring the playlists from one account to another via a web-link;
➕ synchronization of the web-version with the mobile app;
➕ integration with social networks like Last.fm, vk.com, Facebook and connection to Deezer if you have an account;
➕ the opportunity to pay for the service for a year and get a discounted price of 1690 rubles (~$25.70), instead of 2028 rubles (~$30.80);
➕ personal recommendations not only on the genre but also on the mood;
➕ a large library of lyrics of Russian songs;
➕ many ways to pay for subscription and authorization options in the service;
➕ benefits from other Yandex services (taxi discounts and additional free space on Yandex.Disk) and from partners (movies without ads on "KinoPoisk", free delivery in the marketplace "Beru" when ordering from 500 rubles (~$7.59));
➕ the service continues to play music, even when the playlist is over - the collection is created automatically from the tracks of the same genre based on the user's personal collection;
➕ an option of placing the player with its audio on other resources;
➖ caching is at a low level - in the absence of Internet connection only the current track is downloaded;
➖ a meager media library of non-Russian artists;
➖ there is no family plan and discounted fees;
➖ if you use the free version, you will be flooded with ads and offers to subscribe.
Who will choose Yandex?
Music lovers who value good sound at an affordable price as well as fans of Russian music. Windows users. Finally, those who just want to have quick access to music without wasting time on registration or authorization.
The former leader of music streaming still remains one of the best services by multiple parameters. It is unavailable in some countries though (only in 59 ones it's available). So if you live, for example, in Russia, Egypt, Tunisia, UAE, Saudi Arabia or Serbia, then, to register you will have to pretend to be a resident of another country using a VPN network. After that Spotify will be available without a VPN, but you have to re-log in the service once in a fortnight afterwards to confirm your location.
If you live in one of the forbidden places, then there is your way: after connecting to the VPN, go to the web version of Spotify and select the "Get Spotify free" option to get a free trial subscription. Then fill in the standard registration form and you're all set!
Installing Spotify on smartphones is a little more difficult because it is not available on Google Play and the App Store for prohibited countries. The owners of Apple devices will have to register in the American version of the App Store, and Android fans need to download the APK (Android Package Kit) file, for example, from here.
Free version and subscription to Spotify
One can use the service without paying for an unlimited time, but with limitations: low bitrate of 160 kbit / s, advertising, few curator’s playlists. In a mobile app, you can not download tracks to a smartphone, select a specific song on the list, you also can skip only 6 songs per hour.
The trial version with all the benefits of the paid version is available only for 30 days. In order to connect to it, you need to select the "Try Premium" option. However, after the trial period, you can pay only using the American PayPal account or gift cards (Gift Card Spotify Premium) - for those places where service's unavailable. The normal rate is $10, the student rate is $5, and the family rate is $15 per month for six people.
Pros & Cons of Spotify
➕ a media library with more than 30 million songs;
➕ access to listening to music online in free mode;
➕ accurate algorithms for selecting songs according to user preferences;
➕ the service works fast with any OS and almost on all devices;
➕ there is no advertising;
➕ the ability to save tracks on your phone and listen to them without an Internet connection;
➕ special discount rates for students and families;
➕ good sound quality: in premium access 320 Kbps in Ogg Vorbis format (higher than MP3);
➕ thousands of curator’s playlists that are created every day and Discover Weekly: a selection of new artists, carefully designed by experts, based on the user preferences;
➕ you can share your collection with your friends, see what they listen to, and create shared playlists;
➕ Spotify Running, an amazing feature for jogging;
➕ integration with PlayStation, Facebook social networking, SoundHound and Shazam services;
➕ the functionality of a full-fledged music social network;
➖ the application does not officially work in some locations, there are various difficulties with registration, payment, and use in general;
➖ you can't find in the Spotify's library, for example, last albums of The Black Keys or Taylor Swift, because these artists rejected the service.
Who will choose Spotify?
Admirers of the Spotify brand who are ready to overcome any difficulties for the sake of this streaming service. Or just music fans being lucky to live in country approved by Spotify.
Have you listened to the last track yet? Turn on the next one and let's go!⚡️
This is not just a streaming service, but a real music social network. SoundCloud is, in fact, more like a cloud for storing tracks and a convenient platform for distributing original music. Almost every Internet user has encountered SoundCloud at this point. It's like YouTube, only for audio.
You can use the service for free by going through a simple registration process on the official website. You just need to enter your email or login with your Facebook or Google account.
After the registration, you will get the opportunity to listen to music without restrictions. Users of the free version do not have access to some functions. For instance, you can only download up to three hours of audio per month. You can not turn off comments, lock top tracks in your profile and see extended statistics. But this is more important for artists than for listeners.
Free version and subscription to SoundCloud
If you want to try the full version of SoundCloud, but without paying for it, you will be given a month for this. Then you need to select between two options: SoundCloud Pro is $8 per month and SoundCloud Pro Unlimited is $16.
The advantages of the most expensive subscription are detailed statistics and analytics, unlimited audio download and a schedule for releases of selected songs.
In Pro, you will get many limited statistics and will be able to upload only 6 hours of your music.
With both options, you can get a discount if you pay for the whole year. Pro will cost $72 and Pro Unlimited - $144 for 12 months.
Pros and Cons of SoundCloud
➕ a large collection of not only music but also podcasts, radio programs, sounds and all sorts of interesting music — the media library is more than 125 million tracks;
➕ cloud storage for downloading your audio files which are not in the service library;
➕ convenient, user-friendly interface;
➕ it is one of the most popular platforms for music distribution: you can upload your own music and get comments, feedback, advice, and also record audio online;
➕ a real chance to contact your favorite artists;
➕ some popular bands publish new tracks on SoundCloud before their official release "for the masses";
➕ users can create communities, subscribe to other people and select groups;
➕ a well-made web-version, apps for iOS and Android, integration with Xbox One, Sonos audio system, and Chromecast player;
➕ a convenient way of integrating the SoundCloud music player on other websites;
➕ annual discounted subscription;
➖ only eight languages (including English) you can choose in interface settings;
➖ not all artists upload the tracks in the finished form;
➖ the service was founded as a platform for artists and continues to develop in this direction;
➖ small library of popular music.
Who will choose SoundCloud?
Professional musicians who promote their work, or gifted amateurs who make their own tracks and wish to receive feedback on them. For the musicians and producers, this platform is almost perfect.
This music streaming service is from Paris. Deezer officially operates on the market of most countries.
To start using Deezer, you need to register on the main page of the site. If you have a profile on Facebook or a Google account, you can sign in through them. Then, you will be asked to answer a couple of questions about musical preferences in order to make the most accurate selection of the personal "Flow" playlist.
Without a paid subscription, you will have to put up with ads, limited bitrate (128 Kbps) and the inability to save tracks to your device. You will not be able to skip more than five songs per hour.
Free version and subscription
The trial period to check the advantages of the paid version is one month. Then the rate will be:
individual - $9.99 per month,
family (up to 6 people) - $14.99 per month.
For high quality lossless (1411 Kbps) streaming you will have to pay $19.99. There is an option to subscribe for a year at a discounted rate. It will cost $99.90. You can pay with PayPal or by credit card.
Pros & Cons of Deezer
➕ available in the majority of countries;
➕ a good music library with more than 53 million tracks and podcasts;
➕ Flow is an option for those who like to listen to personalized selections of new tracks mixed with their own collection. The algorithms of auto-selection, by the way, are very good;
➕ one can select playlists and create personal music lists;
➕ the application works on all devices and platforms;
➕ there is no advertising;
➕ there is a lyrics library which can work in a karaoke mode;
➕ good sound quality: the bitrate is 320 Kbps;
➕ the option of downloading music and listening without the network connection;
➕ annual subscription at a reduced price;
➕ good user-friendly interface both in the web version and in the mobile application;
➕ quite a lot of curator and user playlists that you can save or share in your profile;
➕ the lossless option of 1411 Kbps in the FLAC codec (available only for devices that can process such speeds);
➕ integration with Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm;
➕ low Internet traffic consumption;
➕ for Russian music fans - Top Russia playlist, created specifically for the Russian audience;
➖ the number of tracks for one playlist is limited to 2000 songs, although this will seem to be an issue only to hardcore music fans;
➖ uploading of your music is limited to 700 songs.
Who will choose Deezer?
Those who want an amazingly fast streaming service that works on any device and operating system. And those who appreciate really high-quality sound and who are ready to pay extra for it.
This music streaming service gives a unique opportunity for its subscribers to watch performances of their favorite artists live and in excellent quality. Although, just like Spotify, it is still officially unavailable in many places. Indeed, users from 53 countries only have access to the service without VPN.
On Tidal, you can log in via your Twitter or Facebook account, or register if you don’t have any of those. However, there is one thing: you can create your profile only through the "try free trial" option and choosing the preferred rate in advance.
In a month, you will have to pay for it or cancel the subscription after the trial version is over; and go to another streaming service where you can listen to the songs for free.
You should read about music with the music! Hit the "play" button and read:
Free version and subscription Tidal
To start using the resource in test mode, you must first choose the plan. For Premium subscription you will be charged $9.99 per month, for Hi-Fi (high-quality sound lossless) $19.99.
Family plan for the former option will cost $14.99 and $29.99 for the latter. There is an option for students – a 50% discount is given for any selected type of subscription.
You can pay by credit card or with PayPal.
Pros & Cons of Tidal
➕ a large music library - 56 million songs, video library of 230 thousand videos;
➕ no advertising;
➕ sound quality for lossless is FLAC / ALAC codecs;
➕ the bitrate of 320 Kbps AAC for the standard subscription (better than MP3 with the same loading speed);
➕ the video streaming of live performances;
➕ many curators’ playlists;
➕ the service is co-owned by such popular artists as Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin from Coldplay, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Madonna, Rihanna and others; who sometimes give access to their unreleased works;
➕ one can download tracks for offline listening;
➕ Tidal, like SoundCloud, is tailored for musicians (although, not in the same degree), the communication between performers and fans is likewise well established;
➕ access from all devices and platforms
➖ you can use the application in free mode only for a month;
➖ as in the case of Spotify, if you live in country where Tidal is not available you need VPN to subscribe. Hence all accompanying difficulties with registration, payment and using service in general.
Who will choose Tidal?
Those who like good sound and are big fans of the celebrity co-owners of the service. Those who just want to find a decent service and are ready to pay for it and, if you are from Russia or Ukraine, for example, are willing to use VPN (though, only at registration and one more time every fortnight).
This is a Russian music streaming service which you can use absolutely free of charge without a time limit, but with limited capabilities. This is possible, however, only in the web version - the mobile application has only a paid option.
You can create a personal profile on the main page of the web version or through the mobile application for iOS and Android. To register an account, there are several options: to log in with social media accounts like vk.com, Facebook, or use your email or phone number. However Zvooq is available in 14 countries only, so you may need to use VPN for getting access to the service.
Free version and Zvooq subscription
The free version of the service allows you to listen only to the music that is offered on the main page. You can not download audio to your device and switch more than 6 songs per hour. Also, the "free package" includes ads and there is no rewind on the tracks.
A trial subscription will protect you from these difficulties for 30 days. Then the rate will be 169 rubles (~$2.60) per month when paying through applications for iOS and Android, and the subscription on the website is 149 rubles (~$2.25). Mobile operators usually offer higher prices.
Pros & Cons of Zvooq
➕ low traffic consumption;
➕ one can pay from a mobile phone account;
➕ "Wave" option which selects music according to user’s preferences;
➕ updates from groups and individual users (for example, favorite artists);
➕ one can link social networks like vk.com and Facebook;
➕ purchasing of individual tracks or albums is available;
➕ you can add playlists to your own collection;
➕ integration with Shazam (for smartphones);
➕ simple interface;
➕ low subscription cost;
➕ for fans of Russian music there's a lot of Russian songs;
➖ weak algorithms of personalized collections in "Wave";
➖ no equalizer;
➖ caching is very bad: after disconnecting from the Internet the track will play only for 1.5 minutes;
➖ the service has Russian interface only;
➖ a rather small music library: around 25 million songs (mostly from Russia).
Who will choose Zvooq?
Fans of Russian music and those who want to save money: this streaming service has one of the cheapest subscriptions when paid from the site.
The best features of music streaming services
Sound and Bitrate: If you want a truly high-quality sound, use Deezer or Tidal. Bitrate in FLAC / ALAC format is 1411 Kbps. But for this, you will have to overpay each month. And do not forget that not every device is capable of playing audio in these codecs.
Uniqueness: Boom (VK Music), SoundCloud and Tidal give an opportunity to listen to very rare and unique compositions. The first two services contain a huge number absolutely original records. Tidal can boast of a number of "celebrity" owners whose singles are often only available in this service.
Personal collection: Apple Music allows you to upload the highest number of tracks to the cloud - as much as 100,000! You can store all your favorite CDs there and have access to them anywhere. This function is not found in many other streaming services and even then the number of tracks is limited to a maximum of 50 000.
Music for jogging: The Spotify service offers its users the Running option which is simply designed for those who like jogging to good music. The application adapts to the pace of the running and selects the appropriate playlist. It's a very cool feature for those who have an active lifestyle.
Online concerts: Tidal subscribers can enjoy video streams of their favorite musicians’ gigs when there is no way to physically get to the concert. At the same time, the quality of such video broadcasts is always at the highest level.
Availability: The cheapest options: Zvooq, provided that you pay directly from the site or Boom from vk.com (you can subscribe to one of these services for only 149 rubles (~$2.25) per month).
Traffic: the best result was shown by Yandex.Music which spends so much fewer megabytes than others. Apps were tested by playing the same playlist with a previously-cleared cache.
The big comparative chart of the main characteristics of music streaming services
Each music streaming service has both advantages and disadvantages. Choose the one that is best for you! This review is designed to help you decide in favor of an application and listen to music with pleasure.
- Domain - the name of a web site (of the particular educational establishment in this case) on the Internet.
- Curator - authoritative musical expert who forms recommended playlists and audio collections.
- Codec - software device or feature for transformation digital data and saving them in particular audio format. Codecs divides into lossy (MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, Opus) and lossless (FLAC/ALAC). The latter don’t degrade the high quality of music.
- Bitrate - the speed of transmission or processing of data, the number of bits per unit of time. Bitrate influences on quality of sound directly. The lower the first is, the poorer the last is.
- Background playback - mode which let you listen to the music (or watch a video) when your streaming app is minimized or display of your device is inactive (switched off).
- Traffic - a number of megabytes written off by Internet provider for playback of every songs.
- Caching - technology that allows to continue listening to the music for a while when the Internet connection is lost. The better caching is, the more tracks service can store for you to listen to without active network.
- VPN (Virtual Private Network) - here: the tool which helps to bypass the lock or the ban on the base of geographical location.
- Curatorial playlist - a list of songs formed by musical expert. More often it consists of tracks of promising performers within users musical tastes.
- Cloud - virtual data storage located on certain servers on the Internet.
- Podcast - audio record on a specific topic. Commonly they are created in the informational style of television or radio programs.
We hope that our article has given you a lot of useful and interesting information! Share it with your friends and help them find their perfect streaming service!
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