If you prefer to live life to your own rhythm, check out our best music apps for accessing playlists with friends and discovering new artists. selecting a Streaming platform used to be an extremely difficult process. Nikki Minaj, for example, could have been on Apple Music but never on Spotify; Tidal’s initial focus was on hip hop. Nowadays, the libraries of both sites are nearly identical, delivering mirror-image libraries of millions of songs and playlists, and they frequently release new albums concurrently. You should have little difficulty locating your preferred artist on any of the platforms.
What differentiates streaming services today is the level of music discovery, whether automated or human-curated, the functionality on desktop and mobile apps, the devices on which they can be used, and the sound quality. While the majority of them offer a free tier, the experience improves significantly when you enroll and pay a monthly charge. We put them all to the test and selected the following as our favourites.
Spotify boasts the most advanced algorithm for music discovery and the coolest, neatest user interface. It took me down rabbit holes to discover new artists and revisit old faves, all depending on what I’d already liked and played on the application.
The free version, which includes adverts, uses a low-quality 96-Kbps streaming bit rate by default, but you can increase it to 160 Kbps. For $10 per month, the Premium tier removes all advertisements and streams at up to 320 Kbps, which seems to be the industry standard these days. If you’re seeking for lossless audio, a Spotify HiFi premium is on the way, but no release date has been announced.
Spotify now boasts over 82 million tracks, up from the claimed “more than 70 million” at the time this page was updated in July 2021. That is, excluding the catalogs of Neil Young, (part of) Joni Mitchell, and the others who demanded that Spotify remove their tracks in protest of Joe Rogan, a Spotify podcaster, promoting Covid disinformation on a consistent basis.
Additionally, Spotify allows you to upload an infinite amount of songs to your music library and create up to 10,000 playlists. If you enable social sharing, you could see what your pals are listening to and establish sessions in which a group listens to a playlist simultaneously. On each Artist page, you may now listen to simply the songs you’ve liked, which is a very pleasant addition.
Apple Music is our new headphones favorite, owing to the inclusion of lossless music quality in its standard $10-per-month tier, which is half the price of Tidal’s lossless tier. Apple appears to have reached its aim of making its entire repertoire of more than 90 million songs lossless by the end of 2021. Additionally, certain tracks are readily accessible in Dolby Atmos. Apple Music’s standard, lossy format streams tracks at a maximum to 256 Kbps, which is similar to Spotify’s 320 Kbps.
The most recent announcement is the launch of the Apple Music Voice Plan, which costs $5 per month. There are no intrusive advertisements, but you must control it with Siri. There is no option to view or create playlists, and there is no method to save favourite tracks, artists, or albums. This also means that there will be no music videos or lyrics. With a tap of the finger, you can control only a few things: pause/play, forward, and previous. You may either ask Siri to search and play individual songs or listen to tailored playlists and radio channels. However, there is a lot of restrictions for a monthly savings of only $5.
Apple’s discovery options, which are more human conscious, are not as enjoyable as Spotify’s. As with Spotify, if your friends have enabled social sharing, you can see what they’re listening to. However, unlike Spotify, there is a tab that displays all of your favourite songs by the artist; for example, if you want to listen to Taylor Swift on your road trip, it will play all of the Taylor Swift songs you’ve loved throughout all of their albums. Your collection is restricted to 100,000 songs, but there are no restrictions on the number of songs you may add to each playlist.
Tidal was formerly the audio streaming favourite due to its massive lossless-quality song catalogue, but it costs $20 per month versus Apple’s $10 Hi-Fi option. It supports Dolby Atmos and 360 Reality Audio, and some tracks may be played at “Master” level (up to 9,216 Kbps) although they are few and far between.
Tidal’s database of over 80 million songs covers the same breadth of genres as its competitors, and it no longer focuses only on hip hop music, as it once did. Currently, all of its tracks are accessible for streaming and download in a lossless format.
Therefore, if you’re unable to bear the idea of biting into an Apple and assimilating into the Apple Society, Tidal still has a spot. Three pricing options are available. Tidal Access has been discontinued in favour of Tidal Free. You nailed it: It’s free due to the presence of advertisements. You can listen to curated channels for free, but not watch videos, and the streaming quality is restricted to 160 kbps. Premium is $10 per month and supports audio up to 320 Kbps.
YouTube Music’s user interface is clean and well-organized. It makes no attempt to replicate Spotify’s aesthetic, which is a prudent approach for an underdog music site from a billion-dollar company. I enjoy how the music queue and lyrics appear in a vertical pane within the interface, which simplifies navigation. Additionally, you can effortlessly go from listening to a song to seeing the accompanying music videos, if one is obtainable.
The site includes a catalogue of around 80 million songs, and I enjoyed the band recommendations. You can store up to 100,000 songs in your library and record and share playlists with others. YouTube Music combines the greatest aspects of Apple Music and Spotify’s artist monitoring services: You can view your “most-liked” songs by artists and subscribe to an artist to access their complete library and upcoming releases.
On the mobile application, the free version has a significant disadvantage: music stops playing the moment you turn off your device or switch to another program. That means you’ll almost certainly need to pay $10 a month for YouTube Music Premium, which also removes ads and allows you to download music for offline use. The desktop application does not suffer from the same major flaw.