Listening to music on your phone and computer has got easier and come a long way since the days of the first MP3 players and iPods. In the last few years streaming services for connected devices have become far more popular. So which one should you use?
When looking at streaming music services there are a few questions to ask – where are you (services are available differently in different areas), what sort of device do you have (Android, Windows Phone or iOS) and if you like to listen to unique or unusual tracks that will not be in the regular libraries.
So assuming that you are in the UK what are your options?
Spotify is the most widely known music streaming services and has paid for and ad supported versions. Paying subscribers (£10/month) can listen without adverts and cache songs for when they do not have connectivity. There are over 20 million songs available at 320kbit/s with an extensive but not exhaustive library. Apps are on every platform you can think of from Android to Windows, Blackberry, iOS and Roku and playlists can be shared.
Rdio is very similar in style and breadth to Spotify, offering around 20 million songs for £10 a month or free ad supported. It is available across all popular devices and players.
Google Play Music All Access has less songs than Rdio or Spotify with only 18 million but has a crucial extra – it allows you to upload your own music tracks. This means if you have indie, rare or bootleg recordings you will be able to stream them to yourself. They allow up to 20,000 MP3’s to be uploaded and streamed. The music locker service is free with no adverts and the full streaming of their library costs £10 a month. It is available on Android iOS and the web and there are third party players on most other platforms.
Xbox Music is the unexpected contender that most people have not heard of. They have a massive library of over 30 million songs, but no locker service. The service can be streamed on Windows 8 PC’s, Xbox, Windows Phone, Android and iOS and via the web on other systems. They have an unusual pricing structure with an ad supported version or ad free for £9 a month or £89.90 for a year (£7.50 a month).
Beyond these major players are a number of others with slightly different libraries, platforms or apps such as Deezer, Bloom, last.fm. Which service you should pick is not simple question. If you want library size XBox music is hard to beat. If you want to be able to stream your own tracks and can live with the name Google Play Music All Access may be the way to go. If you want to share playlists, Spotify has a lot going for it.