FYI Friday: The Best Music Streaming Service for You

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In case you didn’t know, I am absolutely obsessed with Spotify. Yes, I even pay for premium (Curious about what I listen to? Check it out here). But, I was concerned about whether I was getting the biggest bang for my buck with the new release of competitor services like Tidal and soon-to-be-released Apple Music. So, in this installment of FYI Friday, I’m going to break down some of the top music streaming services by cost, amount of music available, and other important factors that might influence which one comes out on top for you. *Disclaimer*: I am not a super music streaming/audio quality expert, although I would love to learn about it. These are basically just the breakdowns of plans offered, special features, and music available. Find a service you like? Click on the logo for a link to the sign up page!

1. Spotify

  • Free Option Available? Yes
  • Premium Plans?
    • $9.99/month for standard single plan
    • starting @ $14.99/month for family plan
  • Ads? Yes, when on free. No, when on premium.
  • Desktop version? Yep.
  • Cool thing to know? Spotify just added Spotify Running. It can match the music with your tempo which makes you more motivated and energized! You can also choose from custom playlists based on genres or artists that you like! It’s only available for iPhone right now, so Android users will have to wait on this function for now.
  • Student discount? YES. YES. YES.

I only felt it would be right to start with Spotify. Here’s the thing, I basically listen to music during every part of my day: showering, getting dressed, doing my makeup, eating breakfast, driving to work/walking to class, studying, and working out. So, having the option to listen to whatever song I want to match whatever activity I’m doing is a definite priority. Spotify gave me that and it’s at a discounted rate! Another thing to remember is that Spotify has pre-made playlists that range anywhere from instrumentals (perfect for late night studying) to electro-pop party music. You can also choose from three different sound qualities. No WiFi or celllular? Not a problem. Spotify gives you the option to download music to your device for offline listening. It’s also nice that they have different discounted monthly plans to choose from: student $4.99/month and a family plan starting at $14.99/month for two users.


2.TIDAL

  • Free option available? 3 month free trial.
  • Premium plans?
    • $9.99/month standard single
    • $19.99/month for high fidelity sound 
  • Ads? No.
  • Desktop version? No, but there is a web player.
  • Cool thing to know? Tidal was revived by artists such as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Usher, etc. because it gives a larger percentage of royalties (aka $$$) back to the artists. That’s kewl. Tidal advertises their extremely exclusive member-only content such as music videos (i.e. Feeling Myself ft Queen B and Nicki) and exclusive interviews.
  • Student Discount? YES. YES. YES.

Tidal made a huge splash with the backing of some of our favorite music artists. But. I’m thinking the company as a whole rushed the revival.The app is sleek, but users complain of its user “un”-friendliness. It’s also been under fire for poor download time and buffering. Tidal also boasts of their High Fidelity Sound Quality which is a “bazillion” times better than Spotify and iTunes quality (1440 kbps vs 320 kbps). Which to be honest, if you aren’t a super sound enthusiast, I don’t know how much this will impact your decision. This can get a bit (very) pricey at a value of $19.99/month. Luckily for all the college students, if Tidal is for you, look out for the student plan discount (50% off).


3. Google Play Music

  • Free Option Available? 30 day free trial!
  • Premium Plans? $9.99/month
  • Ads? Nope
  • Desktop version? Yes
  • Cool thing to know? You can connect your iTunes Music playlist to help customize playlists; the app is available for Apple and Android products. 30 million songs are available for your enjoyment!
  • Student Discount? Unfortunately, no.

Google basically runs the world, so I would say their music streaming service would be pretty great! I think Google Play Music and Spotify have comparable standards, the tie-breaker was honestly the familiarity I have with Spotify and the student discount they offer. I might consider having a serious discussion about switching if Google had a comparable discount! Music quality is good, and if you have an extensive iTunes collection this might be the service for you because of the integration capability. You won’t have to switch from the Music app to the Google Play Music app and vice versa. It also kind of irks me that Google doesn’t have a simple free version that customers can use (even if it had ads).


4. Apple Music

  • Free Option Available? 3 month free trial and limited features with Apple ID.
  • Premium Plans?
    • $9.99/month for standard single
    • $14.99/month for family aka up to 6 users
  • Ads? Nope (for paying members.)
  • Desktop version? Yes.
  • Cool thing to know? Apple Music is released June 30! I’ll definitely be trying it out.
  • Student Discount? Not yet.

I definitely think Apple Music has the potential to give Spotify a run for their money. Apple has a comparable sized music library (30 million songs), access to exclusive content, and has the backing of one of the most popular brands in the world. I’m sitting here on my Macbook and texting on my iPhone while charging my iPod. I think Apple has me hooked for sure. Apple was also smart to combine all the special features of the mentioned services into one! You can combine your Apple Music library, there is a family plan for up to six people, Beats 1 radio* is also integrated into the system, and it keeps the social aspect of Spotify with Connect, where you can follow different artists for new releases and exclusive interviews and music videos. You can also save music for offline listening and get personalized music recommendations. It’s compatible with all Apple products, of course, and will be available for the Android platform in the fall. Once again, if Apple gives a student discount, I might have to say goodbye to Spotify. *Beats 1 Radio allows you to customize your own radio stations to find new songs or ones you already know and love. It comes with unlimited skips for paying members. You can also transfer your currents Beats1 subscription to an Apple Music subscription when it is released.

Love Spotify too Or are you a Google Play fan? Sound off in the comments, I’d love to hear from you! Check us out on Facebook and our other social media for more awesome content and updates on the blog.

Signature_Gabby

  • I’m a devoted Spotify Premium user! I’ll seriously tell whomever will listen how great it is haha. But, as you brought up with Tidal (which I’d never heard of), royalties are a big thing in the music streaming industry, and with Spotify, many artists aren’t making what they could/should be. This is definitely something I consider the implications of often because I want to work in the music industry.

    Alexa
    http://theicingontheplaylist.com