The music market has been changing for some time now. iTunes has been there, and made us put the CDs in boxes to enjoy dematerialized music. Today it is the single purchase that is called into question with the rise of music streaming services, which allow unlimited listening to all songs. Between Spotify, Deezer, YouTube Music and Amazon Music, which one should you choose? Reply.
Free or paid, in MP3 or FLAC quality, there are more and more offers. So much so that it is difficult to navigate. Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer dominate the market, but other services exist and are starting to do well. To help you find what works best for you, here is an overview of music streaming services.
Spotify: the undisputed leader
Who does not know Spotify? It is the market leader in music streaming. Released in 2008, it now has 50 million premium service users, including more than 700,000 in France. Spotify’s strength is its impressive catalog that is completely free, as long as you accept advertising. With a subscription of 9.99 € / month, no more advertising. And you can enjoy offline listening. It is even possible to mix your own music library with the titles present on Spotify by importing it into the service.
It has now aligned itself with its competitors and offers a family offer at 154.99 euros per month, allowing 6 members of a family to benefit from an unlimited subscription. What make it all the more attractive. There are several possibilities to use it: the software to install on your computer, the application for mobile and tablet, or the web version. And Spotify is revolutionizing itself with Spotlight, a 2.0 podcast with images and videos!
Also note that for the social side of the application (sharing songs with your friends) Spotify uses your Facebook account (this may disturb some). You can also share what you listen to on your Twiter, Tumblr account or via Skype and Messenger in just a few clicks. Finally, despite its very complete catalog, some classics are not available.
One of the great things about Spotify is that it is available on most devices. For example, you can listen to your favorite playlists on your Playstation 4, on your Xbox One and you will even have the right to use your smartphone and your tablet as a remote control, as long as you are connected to the same wifi network.
Spotify is loaded with many features that are as practical as they are enjoyable. Very easy to use, it should be suitable for most users, even in its free version. We especially appreciate its many playlists and the ability to easily share them with friends, either without the app or within Facebook Messenger.
On Spotify, if you have good listening equipment, note that the audio streams are compressed. With a free offer, you will only be able to listen to your music at a rate of 160 kbits / s, with the subscription Premium at 9.99 € / month, you can reach a maximum rate of 320 kbits / s. If your equipment is standard, the sound quality shouldn’t bother you too much. Truth be told, the less attentive ears shouldn’t even notice the difference.
Playlist Discoveries of the week and other personalized Mixes
One of the strengths of the service are its personalized Discover of the Week and Daily Mix playlists. These are built from your listening profile – in other words, the songs you like to listen to. They are partly assembled automatically and via human speakers, which makes them high quality playlists that will make you discover more and more music!
There are several Spotify offers:
- Free: listen in random mode to the playlist or artist of your choice / with advertising / 160 kbits / s
- Student € 4.99 / month: unlimited listening and same options as in Premium
- Premium € 9.99 / month: unlimited listening without advertising at 320 kbits / s and with the possibility of listening to music offline on smartphone and tablet / MP3 import
- Duo Premium € 12.99 / month : unlimited listening without advertising at 320 kbits / s and with the possibility of listening to offline music on smartphone and tablet / MP3 import – unlimited for two people
- Family € 15.99 / month : unlimited listening for 6 members of a family living under the same roof
Currently, users who have never tried Spotify Premium can enjoy the service for free for 3 months! A good opportunity to form your own opinion!
Deezer: the frenchie
Deezer is the French outsider who is starting to hit the mark internationally. It offers a very comprehensive catalog with 43 million titles. Like Spotify, Deezer offers several packages. Launched a year earlier, in 2007, Deezer was initially completely free. Today you will have the choice among the various offers to take advantage of the catalog almost as complete as that of Spotify.
As with Spotify, you will be able to download Deezer software for your computer. A web version is also and obviously an application for smartphone and tablet. The same goes for the interface. If you are used to another service, it will be difficult to find your way around at first but you will be fine later.
Like Spotify, Deezer offers several qualities of sound. For free you will be entitled to 160 kbits / s while on the version at 9.99 € / month you will benefit from 320 kbits / s. There is also a version exclusive to Sonos speaker buyers: a subscription for € 19.99 / month to listen to your music in FLAC at 1411 kbits / s.
Like Spotify, Deezer offers several plans, one of which is free. Here are the details:
- Free: unlimited listening on tablet and computer / playlist and unlimited radios on mobile / advertising / 128 kbits / s
- Premium + at € 9.99 / month: unlimited listening on all media / offline listening / no advertising / MP3 import / 320 kbits / s
- Family at € 14.99 / month: unlimited listening for 6 family members.
- HiFi at € 19.99 / month: This is an offer aimed at audiophiles looking for optimum quality. With this offer you will be able to enjoy certain titles in FLAC, ie 1411 kbits / s.
Currently, users can test Deezer Premium for free for 30 days! A good opportunity to form your own opinion!
Tidal: by artists for artists
Tidal is the new kid on the block lately. Bought by Jay-Z, Tidal’s vocation is to donate more rights to artists who have chosen this platform to promote their music. As a result, some Jay-Z or Beyoncé titles are available exclusively on the platform.
Like Deezer and Spotify, it is available in a web version. The platform offers 40 million titles, and also gives access to clips. The difference from its competitors is that on Tidal, you have to subscribe to be able to access the service, although you can test it for a month first. Its interface is very similar to that of Spotify, one would almost be mistaken. It’s dark, understated, and the layout is more or less the same.
The big distinguishing point of Tidal is the sound quality. You can listen to all sounds in FLAC but then the subscription peaks. And to listen to music in FLAC, you need headphones (or headphones) and speakers that go with them. Small originality, Tidal also offers video streaming to watch the clips and again we are entitled to HD.
Unlike its competitors, Tidal therefore does not offer a free version. However, you can have a free trial for 30 days. As you will realize, Tidal is a bit more expensive than its competitors, especially if you subscribe to a HiFi offering. Moreover, the prices are more or less the same.
- Premium at € 9.99 / month: standard sound quality / HD videos
- Premium Family at € 14.99 / month : for a premium subscription for 5 members
- Premium Student at € 4.99 / month : for a premium subscription
- HiFi at € 19.99 / month: music in FLAC / HD videos
- HiFi Family at € 29.99 / month: for a subscription for 5 members
- HiFi Student at € 9.99 / month: for a subscription
Before being a full-fledged music streaming service, SoundCloud was the platform of choice for artists and talent scouts. Quickly becoming a benchmark with no less than 250 million users in 2013, SoundCloud has had to deal with complaints from the majors who felt that the service was playing music without owning the copyright. The power of the majors is on the verge of wiping out SoundCloud for good when the company finds a solution.
Like the others, she ended up negotiating with the record companies to offer a paid offer. The advantage of SoundCloud Go is its social network aspect. A follower system is in place with re-posts that allow you to interact with other users. The only weak point compared to the competition is that no family offer is available. The interface is simple and efficient. Clear and unadorned, it’s really lovely.
You can enjoy it on the web version on your computer or on the smartphone and tablet app.
Like Spotify and Deezer, Soundcloud offers several qualities of sound. The plan at € 5.99 / month offers standard quality while the Go + offer improves all that a little.
Originally free, SoundCloud had to follow the trend not to sink. Thus, two formulas are proposed:
- SoundCloud Go for € 5.99 / month: 120 million tracks in standard quality
- SoundCloud Go + for € 9.99 / month: 150 million tracks and better audio quality
Napster: Spotify worse
Napster has made a comeback in Europe after years of disappearance. What was originally an illegal download service has become a legal music streaming service. Like Tidal, Napster is only available as a paid version. The difference is that it only offers standard listening quality. The interface is nice, it’s fluid, clean. And the catalog is quite comprehensive. The problem with Napster is that it doesn’t really offer a distinctive stitch.
Napster is a bit of a less complete Spotify, at the same price. A bit of a shame. In fact, the service is interesting for SFR subscribers who can take advantage of this service free of charge with certain Carré offers.
Napster only offers a formula with the best MP3 quality, at 320 kbits / s.
Only one offer available at € 9.95 / month. As with other music streaming services, you will be entitled to a free 30-day trial period.
Google play music
Obviously, we can’t talk about music streaming without talking about Google Play Music. The Mountain View giant has also developed its offer. It is also very simple, with a fairly complete free version and a paid version offering additional features in web and mobile versions. The interface is worthy of Google services: simple and clean. You can import your own music library, enjoy it on all your devices, with or without ads depending on the offer you choose.
Google Music All Access is the best deal. Little icing on the cake: Google Play Music will offer you musical titles according to your geolocation as well as the time of day. The catalog is one of the most complete on the market, whether you are a fan of the great classics or you prefer new products. Google’s music experts also concoct playlists tailored to your mood, available only in paid version.
Google has yet to make the leap to high definition music. We can nevertheless enjoy a MP3 quality at 320 kbits / s.
As said above, Google Music offers two formulas:
- Free: access to a more limited catalog than on the paid version / advertisements / import from the library
- All Access at € 9.99 / month: complete catalog on all your devices / import from library / without ads / personalized recommendations
- Family offer at € 14.99 / month: unlimited access for 6 members of a family (Gmail address in support)
We do not yet know exactly how long Google Play Music will survive, but it could soon disappear to make way for YouTube Music, available in France since June 18, 2018. Moreover, Google Play Music subscribers automatically have access to the YouTube Music paid formula, a sign that the Cupertino company wants to convince its users to migrate.
The free plan offers much the same functionality as regular YouTube, but with a better interface designed for music. By paying 9.99 euros per month, however, you have the right to remove advertising, listening in the background, offline mode and audio mode. A 3 month free trial of YouTube Music is offered under certain conditions.
This is currently a weak point of YouTube Music compared to the competition. The app offers a maximum audio quality of 256 kbps, so it’s lower than Google Play Music. A future update should bring better sound performance, but in mid-June 2018, it is quite disappointing on that side.
Regarding the prices, there are three possibilities here:
- Free: YouTube Music interface but with many limitations and the presence of advertisements
- € 9.99 / month: complete catalog (with concerts and lives) / listening in the background / offline mode / audio mode (without clip or video) / no advertising
- € 11.99 / month : with YouTube Premium in addition
- Family at € 14.99 / month: unlimited access for 6 family members
Apple Music: a complete service and an offer for the family
If you have many iOS devices, such as iPhones or iPads and especially a HomePod, Apple Music may easily establish itself as the ideal choice, as the service is perfectly integrated into the brand’s ecosystem. You can also control Apple Music with Siri. Before you subscribe to Apple Music, Apple even allows you to test the service for free for 3 months.
Best of all: on your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, this is an app installed by default. Contrary to what some argued, Apple Music is not yet revolutionizing the market, but the firm has managed to offer a service that brings together everything that others do best. Thus, we find for example a kind of social network integrated with Connect. Users can follow their favorite artists and have access to exclusive content.
Another novelty, inspired by Netflix: My Music. This function, which is based on a recommendation system, groups together the music likely to please the user according to his tastes and the music he listens to regularly. Finally, Apple offers radio on its music streaming service called Beats One. It will broadcast from Los Angeles, New York and London. A kind of free music offer since there will be no need to be a subscriber to enjoy Beats One.
On the other hand, the user will not be able to choose his titles, it is a real radio station with hosts. The big black point of Apple Music, in addition to the absence of a free offer, is that there is no version for the web: not the slightest interface intended to be opened with a web browser. To use Apple Music on PC or Mac, you will have to go through itunes. On the flaws side, we will also note an interface that is not very intuitive and a little too chaotic.
Contrary to its habit, Apple unfortunately did not keep it simple. The offline mode is also part of the game and we are entitled to a catalog of 30 million titles for the moment. Some artists preferred to stay on iTunes only. Over time, the catalog of available music has grown a lot, even if some still resist Apple Music.
Learn more: Apple Music is official, find out in detail!
Apple, which wants to be a high-end brand, has made no effort in terms of sound quality. Music available on Apple Music are therefore available in MP3 format but in 256 Kb / s, It is lower than the standard of 320 Kb / s which one observes with the competitors. If you have a musical ear, you might do well to go for another streaming service.
Against all expectations, Apple offers prices that can be more interesting than the competition.
- Individual at € 9.99 / month: access to a more limited catalog than on the paid version / advertisements / import from the library
- Student at € 4.99 / month: for a standard subscription
- Family at € 14.99 / month: unlimited access for 6 members of a family
Small specificity of Apple Music, it is possible to subscribe directly for a full year. At 99 €, this offer stands out as the cheapest on the market. It ultimately costs only 8.33 / month. Finally, even if the Cupertino company refuses to adopt a freemium model, it still offers a access to his Beats One radio for free. The radio broadcasts sounds all day long with seasoned hosts to take care of the transitions.
Qobuz: quality has a price
Lovers of high definition sound, Qobuz is for you. But beware, quality comes at a price. Qobuz is undoubtedly the music streaming service for audiophiles. While most other services fall far short of optimal sound quality, Qobuz has chosen to differentiate itself on this point. Its offer is varied, there is still something for everyone. I will detail the rates below. Qobuz’s interface is quite intuitive.
To take advantage of it, you must either go to the web version of the service or download an application for mobile and tablet. The catalog is very complete since it contains the titles of the majors but also the sounds of independent labels. I told you before, Qobuz is the service for music freaks.
Once again, on Qobuz, quality comes first. You will have the choice between several offers including one which offers downloading in Hi-Res, the best audio quality available to date.
A basic offer will allow you to enjoy streaming in MP3 quality but the best quality possible for MP3 or 320 kbits / s. Other offers include listening in 16-bit FLAC, which no streaming offer has yet.
Qobuz has chosen a varied offer. And if quality comes at a price, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to access it. Prices range from € 9.99 / month to € 349.99 / year, anyway. At this price it will also be necessary to have suitable equipment, obviously.
- Premium at € 9.99 / month : standard offer for one account
- Hi-Fi at € 19.99 / month : all the service in Flac 16 Bit
- Sublime at € 219.99 / year : all the service in Flac 16 Bit and Hi-Res downloads at a special price
- Sublime + at € 349.99 / year : Unlimited Hi-Res streaming and Hi-Res downloads at a special price
Be aware that in any case, you can opt for an annual offer, which saves you money. Before you have to get your hands on the wallet, you will be entitled to a short 15-day free trial period.
Amazon Music Unlimited
Very similar in its operation and prices to the rest of the market, Amazon Music will be especially interesting for people who already benefit from a Amazon Prime subscription. From a point of the interface, we stay in the very agreed and very classic. If you already use Spotify or another streaming service regularly, you should get used to it quickly. As on Spotify, Amazon offers a pleasant system of recommendations and playlists.
But the service does not shine by its originality. Amazon Music Unlimited is exactly like any other music streaming service. Its only major asset is precisely belonging to Amazon. We can therefore imagine in the future an interaction between your purchases on the site and your playlists, or with Amazon Prime Video. And there is no doubt that Amazon’s service is set to evolve and become, over time, a better competitor of Spotify.
Note that since June 6, 2018, an Amazon Music service has been included directly in the Amazon Prime subscription. To benefit from it, there is therefore no supplement to pay if you are already Prime. Of course, the offer is not as large as with Amazon Music Unlimited. “Only” two million tracks are available with this formula, and the user is limited to 40 hours of ad-free listening per month. This can be a lower cost alternative for the less demanding. A 100% free and ad-supported offer should soon land in France.
With a subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited, you will be able to enjoy your music in high quality on any device. What is the maximum quality at Amazon? On this side too, Amazon copies Apple and Spotify with a maximum listening quality of 320 kbits / s. Nothing new here either.
Amazon offers prices identical to those of the competition. As you will understand, Amazon Music Unlimited is an interesting choice if you are already subscribed to Amazon Prime. It is possible to test the service free of charge for 30 days.
- individual offer: € 9.99 / month or € 99 / year if you are already an Amazon Prime member. By choosing to pay annually, you will save up to 2 months. With this offer, you have the right to listen offline and without advertising.
- Family offer: € 14.99 / month or 149 € / year for 6 members of the same family.
Whether you are an audiophile or not, you should find what you are looking for among all of these offers. Of course nothing prevents you from having a little pleasure from time to time with a good vinyl or a very nice little CD. Also remember that, if you choose a service where the audio quality is optimal, it is essential to have high-end equipment, whether it is headphones, ears or a speaker.