Music streaming has become increasingly popular over the past decade. Although you can still pay to download a song or album, and some albums are still being produced on cassette tape, vinyl records, and compact discs (CDs), streaming is still the number one choice across the globe.
There are plenty of music streaming services out there that operate in the same way as Google Play Music and YouTube Music. Read on to discover what alternatives we recommend using and why. All will be revealed.
How do streaming services like YouTube Music work?
To enjoy the freedom and pleasure of music streaming, you will need a computer, smartphone, tablet, or a sound receiver. Any of these devices will work, but a smartphone is probably the most common interface.
After downloading and installing the relevant app (or web page if you are using a PC or Mac), most services require you to create an account and sign in. This is the same for free services and paid-for subscriptions. With a personal account, you can tailor your profile and add music you’d like to listen to.
After signing in, you will have access to millions of songs from a variety of artists. Just search for an artist, album, or song and start listening. It really is that simple. Streaming requires you to have an internet connection on the device you are using.
To pay or not to pay?
This is the big question. Some alternatives to YouTube Music and Google Play Music require you to pay a monthly or annual subscription to access their music library. Other services have both a free version and a paid subscription.
The free versions of major streaming services rely on audio advertisements after every four or five songs. This is how they make money to pay artists and songwriters.
However, there is more to a paid subscription than just removing the adverts. Many services will allow paid users to download as much music as they want, for no extra cost. This is so they can listen to tracks offline, without an internet connection. This is particularly useful if you use a phone, because you can download music at home over Wi-Fi, and then listen on-the-go without incurring data charges.
The Top 5 music streaming services
1. Apple Music
Apple Music is perfect for use on phones and tablets, and the biggest rival to Google’s Android operating system. To access this service, you will need to pay a monthly fee. They boast over 50 million songs in their catalog, and allow users to download music to listen offline.
Apple Music offers excellent curated playlists that allow you to listen to hits that you love, or discover new gems. You can also search for user-created playlists made by people like yourself, who just love music.
Apple Music also includes a number of exclusive radio stations, so that your music plays at all times. These can be accessed and created around artists or genres.
It is no surprise that Spotify made the list of best services. It comes in a free and paid version, and just like Apple Music and YouTube Music, is very flexible and intuitive to use.
They boast the same 50+ million tracks as Apple Music, and also have Spotify curated playlists along with user playlists. The radio feature on Spotify is more-artist based and not like traditional radio. It is like a never-ending playlist of songs that suit preferences. You can also download tracks for offline listening with a paid membership.
Tidal is an interesting choice for a music service. It was created by a conglomerate of famous musicians, including Jay-Z and Madonna. It is a paid-for subscription service with many exclusive tracks by top artists.
The subscription comes in two tiers. There is a price point that is in line with other services, and it offers its features at standard quality. Where Tidal really shines is with the most expensive subscription. With this, every track is in high-fidelity CD-quality sound. Many albums and songs are available in 24-bit Master format, which makes the music a faithful representation of an original studio recording.
With this service, you can access the usual playlists and millions of songs. Tidal boasts a more fair pay-out system to artists and composers than many other competitors.
Soundcloud is a whole new ball game. It is free for musicians and podcasters to create an account and upload music. The Soundcloud free option gives you access to millions of tracks by many artists, but not their most famous tracks. These tracks tend to be by lesser-known independent artists or demo versions of songs.
The paid-for subscription is called Soundcloud Go+ and gives you ad-free access to all the music you already had, plus all the music that the other services boast too. You can create playlists or listen to ones created by other users, and you can also download music for offline listening.
Mixcloud is a unique music streaming service. Instead of selecting songs or albums to play, you listen to radio shows and DJ mixes. You can upload mixes and podcasts for free, and it pays out royalties to artists.
Listening to radio shows comes at no cost, but there are adverts in between shows. You can choose to pay for a membership that removes adverts, but you can also pay a lower monthly price that directly supports DJs and radio hosts, in return for ad free shows.
As shown above, there are many wonderful music services that operate in the same way as both Google Play Music and YouTube Music. Some of the alternatives offer exclusive features and content for a paid subscription, while some offer a free version. No matter what you choose, enjoy the music.