Spotify vs the best music streaming service alternatives [update]
Spotify is the world’s biggest and (arguably) best music streaming service with 24 million active users and a catalogue of over 20 million songs to choose from. It rose to prominence by offering an alternative to iTunes where instead of paying per song download, users are charged a monthly subscription fee to listen to as much music as they want.
Having proved extremely popular, several competitors to Spotify have emerged offering eye-catching features and cheaper – or even free – subscriptions. Rdio, iTunes Radio, Soundcloud, Twitter Music and Google Play Music are all vying for your attention with different features and subscription prices.
We take a look at the features that make Spotify the leader of the pack and the best music streaming alternatives…
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Spotify – five key features
Free listening with adverts – with Spotify Free you’ll receive a 2.5 hour streaming allocation each week, although adverts will be played in between songs. New users receive six months of unlimited streaming free.
Huge catalogue of songs – you’ve got over 20 million songs to choose from when using Spotify but there are some notable absentees from its catalogue. Classic bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC aren’t available to listen to, while more recent songs from Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace and The Black Keys are similarly missing.
Several mobile apps – official Spotify apps are available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone, so you can download and listen to music playlists offline.
Social listening – Spotify is partnered with Facebook so, if you’re brave, you can share what you’re listening to with the world. This feature can be switched off, although Spotify does encourage you to follow fellow users for social recommendations of new tracks to listen to.
Third-party apps – discovering new music on Spotify is immensely easy thanks to its Discover page and third-party apps from the likes of Now! That’s What I Call Music, E4 and NME. All tastes are catered for whether you like whatever’s in this week’s Top 40, hip-hop or indie.
Best music streaming service alternatives:
- Google Play Music - having arrived late to the world of music streaming, Google Music initially undercut Spotify with an eye-catching £7.99 per month subscription offer. Now it’s available at the usual price of £9.99 per month with a catalogue of over 20 million songs and cloud storage space for 20,000 of your own songs. Android owners could well be tempted to make the switch from Spotify but there’s no iPhone app available for the service at present.
- Rdio – as one of Spotify’s most prominent rivals, Rdio offers many of the same features of Spotify for the same pricing structure. Similarly to Spotify, you don’t need to download a program to use Rdio as it can run straight out of your browser.
- Twitter Music – the latest social music service links with Spotify and Rdio to display the most popular songs on Twitter. It looks great and has greatly improved its recommendations service since April. The ‘emerging’ music tab is especially good for finding future chart smashes before they hit the Number 1 spot.
- iTunes Radio – Apple’s iTunes Radio won’t be available in the UK for a while but it’s launching in the US alongside Apple’s new iOS 7 operating system for iPhone and iPad. A free streaming service that’s funded by adverts, it’s set to offer users over 200 stations to listen to although you won’t be able to access it offline.
- Soundcloud – you won’t find a vast catalogue of classic tracks on Soundcloud but it’s the go-to service for artists like Beyoncé and Kings Of Leon to launch their latest songs. Like Twitter, you can follow users, repost tracks you like and like/favourite any especially good tracks you discover.
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