Two years ago music streaming was somewhat of a novelty. Fast-forward to 2016, and services such as Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple’s long-awaited Apple Music are several choices listeners can choose from…at a cost.
It’s safe to say that the age of streaming music is here. Music-streaming services let you listen to practically any song or album for a monthly fee, similarly to what Netflix offers with shows and movies. You typically pay around $10 a month, again, similar to Netflix, that can be streamed via web, mobile, or even on your TV.
Marni Thornton, music business management program coordinator at Durham College, says “the way that we have been accessing music has been evolving over the past couple decades… As technology is becoming more prominent, it’s driving how music is provided and music is providing technology with ways to develop itself so to speak.”
|Apple Music||SoundCloud GO||Spotify||Tidal|
|Mobile compatibility||iOS, Android||iOS, Android, Windows phones.||iOS, Android, Windows phones.||iOS, Android.|
|Desktop Compatibility||Any computer that has iTunes available. Apple TV to become available soon.||Mac, Windows computers.||Mac, Windows computers, Some smart TVs and Sony PlayStation.||Mac, Windows, most web players.|
|Offline playlists||Custom playlists, and Artist recommended playlists. Live radio as well.||Going to become available with SoundCloud GO.||Offline playlists available with premium version. As well as radio stations and recommended playlists.||Offline playlist building, with recommended playlists, and playlist importing from third party sites.|
|Free Trials||3 months free||30 days free||30 days free||7 days free|
|Music Availability||First to get singles and albums from a wide-variety of artists.||SoundCloud GO has expressed interest in expanding its artist base.||Gets new music almost immediately. Wide-variety of new and established artists.||Many artists are making the move to Tidal, including Kanye West and Rihanna.|
|Music Plans||$9.99 per month. $14.99 per month for up to six family members.||$9.99 per month for Windows and Android. $12.99 per month for iOS.||Free version available. * $9.99 per month for premium.||$9.99 for Tidal.
$19.99 for HiFi version.
|Store/Listen||Just like old Apple playlists, Apple Music allows you to do the same, although uploading your own music is a little harder.||Most convenient platform for uploading music.||Perfect balance between new artists uploading music and worldwide artists.||Good balance between music videos and artists. Not really a platform for emerging artists.|
Apple Music: This streaming service is pretty device-specific, obviously it suits Apple users well. Personally this is my preference especially due to the fact that most music hits Apple before several other streaming platforms, like Spotify. The ability to have up to five more users for an additional $4.99 makes it quite appealing to families as well. Once it becomes available on Android it’s safe to say more than just Apple fans will be using this as their preferred music-streaming service.
SoundCloud GO: According to the Wall Street Journal, since 2008 SoundCloud has been the number one free music-streaming service, with an estimated 175 million unique monthly listeners. Lately, SoundCloud has faced the issue of how to turn its popularity into a reasonable business model. Its benefit is definitely the ability for an aspiring artist to post content for a music community. Unfortunately, iOS fans won’t be happy to find out that its monthly cost is $12.99 as compared to $9.99 for Android users.
Spotify: For the average person looking for a first music-streaming platform, Spotify is definitely the most well-rounded. As indicated in the table, Spotify is easily the most compatible with different platforms; such as Smart TVs, mobile devices and also allows users to post content similar to that of SoundCloud. It also is the only music platform that is completely free, although it definitely hinders the ability to play songs freely, and without ads.
Tidal: Similar to SoundCloud GO, Tidal is a new streaming service unlike the others mentioned and is more of an overall music multimedia site, as it contains documentaries on artists, and editorials. To sum up Tidal is definitely more for the hard-core music lover, it’s a one-stop shop for music articles, along with millions of artists. Its downside is that it really doesn’t give you much of a trial period without paying, and also has a premium paid version available for $19.99.
Music streaming gives music fans what they want when they want it. They can tune in to music essentially anywhere and usually it’s easier than sitting at a computer downloading music individually.
“These streaming platforms you can have on any device, it comes with you anywhere,” says Thornton, “although many say music-streaming comes with the sacrifice of quality, the ability to have it on any platform anywhere in the world is the era we are leaning towards as listeners.”