A shocking 96 percent of internet users consume licensed music, according to the IFPI. The current easy accessibility to music is creating a bigger market for music and musicians, but also more competition. Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify, Pandora and Soundcloud know exactly how essential listening to music is and deliver it to us in an easy and reliable way, but some are arguably better than others.
Apple Music, housing about 40 million songs, includes a modern layout and beautifully displayed album artwork. Only $10 a month, and $5 with a student discount, the low cost is very attractive. When creating an account, various circles will pop up for users to select their favorite genres, artists and bands, curating the service to accommodate their music taste. The platform uniquely offers the option to download previously purchased music and CD’s. The most talked about perk of having Apple Music is getting access to new releases the fastest. This directly comes from the fact Apple Music does not have a free version, which results in more revenue to the music artists.
Beats 1 radio, Siri and the Connect Function are included in an Apple Music subscription. The Beats 1 radio function offers a live radio 24 hours a day with famous DJs like Zane Lowe. The Connect Function is Apple’s main social feature, which brings artists and fans closer together. Paired with Siri’s compatibility, the service aims to make listening as niche as possible. Since their June 2015, the service has already gathered about half of Spotify’s paying users and is growing every day.
Spotify takes the cake with the most users globally. With over 30 million songs and 20,000 more being added per day, according to their site, it’s easy for music lovers to get attached. The prices are the same as Apple Music offers, except with Spotify there is an ad-based version for free. Spotify comes with plenty of useful tools for discovering new music, so it is perfect for people who don’t have time to dig around for some. Discover Weekly and Release Radar come out with playlists personalized to your listening habits, New Releases groups together the youngest tracks for easy discovery, and additional tabs below artists can inform you about their growth, collaborations, and when they’ll be performing near you next. Secret Genius, Spotify’s storytelling podcast, brings fans of pop music closer to songwriters behind their favorite hits. Sessions where songwriters describe the stories behind their hits are paired with their own curated playlists.
If you need playlists for working out, then Spotify is the one for you; Spotify Running automatically estimates how fast a user is running and constructs a playlist that won’t fail to get you pumped up. Unlike other services, through a mobile version you are able to see lyrics for the current song being played. Spotify gives users the perfect tools to expand their music library.
Any huge fans of Jay Z will tell you Tidal is the best music streaming service, but others say it isn’t worth it. Ringing in at $10 a month for 320 kbps audio and $20 a month for lossless 24-bit music quality, Jay Z’s Tidal is the leading music streaming service when it comes to the highest audio resolution. Although many artists release their music to Tidal first, Tidal has the least amount of tracks and poor music discovery features.
The oldies but goodies, Pandora and Soundcloud, are still extremely relevant to today’s music industry. Pandora banks on having the best internet radio service to this day. The thumbs up/thumbs down algorithm is the perfect combination for users that like to “press play and walk away.” Pandora includes about 40 million tracks and presents interesting facts about each song being played. Advertisement-based means it is a free service, but if you don’t want to listen to those annoying advertisements you can pay a low amount of $5 a month.
The almost gone but never forgotten Soundcloud is the prime contestant for the most diverse music library. With over 100 million user created tracks, there is nothing you can’t find on Soundcloud. The whopping 200 million active users per month definitely gives Soundcloud the biggest creative user base. If you are a lover of EDM and indie music, Soundcloud is the way to go. Music artists even post their sets from concerts and festivals so you can relive it all over again. The best part is that it’s free, for the most part. If you can’t handle the advertisements, you can pay a low fee of $5 a month and $10 a month for even more songs available.