Wondering where the best place to get your music fix is? We’ve got you covered in this roundup of the best music streaming services.
Music streaming services provide an easy way to listen to music on demand. They give you instant access to hundreds of thousands of tracks, from all your favorite artists, for one small monthly subscription.
There are a bunch of music streaming services on the market to choose from—but they’re not all made equal.
Different platforms differ wildly when it comes to things like audio quality, app and device compatibility, speed and performance, discoverability, UI, music catalog size, and of course, cost.
To help you sort through your option, we’ve compiled this in-depth comparison of the 8 best music streaming services available this year.
We’ll be looking at what kind of listeners each service is best for, outlining all their pros and cons, looking at pricing, and more.
Ready? Let’s get started!
The best music streaming services – summary
- Spotify – Best for casual listeners.
- YouTube Music – Best for music videos (and existing YouTube Premium users).
- Apple Music – Best for Apple device users (great integration with other Apple products).
- Amazon Music – Best for users who want to play music through Alexa devices (and Amazon Prime subscribers).
- Tidal – Best for audiophiles (excellent sound quality).
#1 – Spotify
Spotify is the most popular streaming service in the world—and for good reason. It might not cater to true audiophiles who demand the best possible quality, but for casual listeners, there’s still no better option.
Listen, I know Spotify has taken some heat recently. But despite some well-founded criticisms (which we’ll get to), it’s still, in my opinion, the overall best music streaming service on the market. Here’s why.
First off, no other service comes close to Spotify in terms of integrations and device compatibility.
There are native Spotify apps for iOS and Android. And with Spotify Connect, you can remotely control listening on all your home devices, like PS4/PS5s, Sonos One, Amazon Echo, Google Nest speakers, etc.
It also offers best-in-class recommendation algorithms. As you listen, Spotify will get to know your tastes and compile curated playlists just for you.
Aside from that, it also offers incredibly fast performance, a sophisticated feature set (remote control options, synced queues, etc.), a generous free tier (supported by ads), and excellent podcast integration.
And of course, as the largest music streaming platform in the world, it also has one of the largest music catalogs. There are over 80 million tracks to choose from, and the vast majority of popular artists are on Spotify.
All that said, let’s be real: Spotify isn’t perfect. There are a few major drawbacks to be aware of.
The first and biggest downside is that Spotify doesn’t offer a HiFi option… yet.
It’s one of the only platforms that still doesn’t offer lossless quality music, but it has announced plans to launch a new Spotify HiFi tier at some point in the future—so there’s still hope.
For now, if you use Spotify, you’ll be stuck streaming audio tracks at a maximum bitrate of 320 kbps. That’s not quite “CD-quality” (1411kbps). But in all honesty, if you’re a casual listener (rather than a true audiophile), you probably won’t even notice.
Another big downside is that the artist payout on Spotify is quite low. Now, that’s not going to affect you directly if you’re just listening to music, but if you care about supporting the artists you listen to, there are better platforms to do it on.
And finally, there’s the whole “Joe Rogan controversy”. In case you missed it, Spotify basically got some backlash for hosting “The Joe Rogan Experience” a while back as some critics accused it of spreading covid disinformation. As a result, a few artists including Joni Mitchell and Neil Young removed their music from the platform.
Available in: 180+ countries (see list)
Pros and cons
|Available on almost every device||No HiFi tier|
|Excellent recommendations and discovery||Low artist payout|
|Advanced feature set||Controversy|
|Solid free tear|
|Huge music catalog|
You can get started with Spotify’s free plan, but it’s limited and serves up ads.
Spotify Premium offers a better listening experience for $9.99/month for individuals or $15.99/month for a family plan. There’s also a discounted student plan for $4.99/month.
#2 – YouTube Music
YouTube Music is Google’s answer to Spotify. It’s another solid streaming service. It has a cool music video feature and it’s included for free with YouTube premium. So if you were thinking about paying for that anyway, it’s a no-brainer.
The interface on YouTube Music is one of those things that you’ll either love or hate. We really like it. In particular, the search function is excellent and makes it easy to discover new music and old gems through its video vaults. We also like the dark theme—it’s nice and easy on the eyes.
When you open a song in the YouTube Music app, you can select either Song or Video mode at the top of the screen. If you tap Video, you’ll be able to watch the music video on your device as you listen, which is pretty cool.
It offers comparably fast performance to Spotify, and has pretty good recommendations and discovery features too. It’s on most platforms and has excellent integrations across the board, especially with Google Assistant-powered home devices and speakers.
Again, the biggest downside here is quality. It has a lower bit rate than Spotify as its capped at just 256kbps, and there’s no HiFi option. Nonetheless, it’s still very listenable and sufficient for most casual listeners.
Available in: Over 100 countries (including most places in Europe & the Americas)
Pros and cons
|Device compatibility||Sound quality (256kbps bitrate)|
|Music videos||No HiFi option|
|Good price with YouTube Premium|
You can sign up for YouTube Music Premium for $9.99 per month ($4.99 for students). Alternatively, you can subscribe to YouTube Premium for $12/month to watch ad-free YouTube videos, which come with YouTube Music included.
#3 – Apple Music
Apple Music is the obvious choice if you’re already immersed in Apple’s ecosystem. It works seamlessly on Apple products like iPhones and iPads (obviously) as well as Siri, Dolby Atmos (for next-level ‘Spatial Audio’), and other compatible devices. It’s also the second most-used streaming service.
Fantastic integration with Apple’s ecosystem isn’t the only thing Apple Music has going for it. It’s also known for its focus on quality.
Apple Music has always offered superb quality AAC audio that’s virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings. But now, they’ve also added a true HiFi option. Apple Music subscribers
can now access the whole catalog in lossless audio compression (ALAC), in resolutions up to 24-bit/192 kHz.
And the best part: HiFi doesn’t cost extra. It’s included in standard subscriptions, which are already pretty cost-effective.
Of course, Apple Music isn’t perfect either. The biggest downside for me is that there’s no Windows app. If you’re an Android or Windows guy, it’s probably not the best choice.
The speed could be better too. In my experience, the Apple Music app is a lot slower than Spotify. On Spotify, switching tabs and songs is pretty much instantaneous, but on Apple Music, it takes a couple of seconds for tabs to load and for songs to start playing.
Available in: 168 countries (including most places in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania)
Pros and cons
|Integration with Apple’s ecosystem||Could be faster|
|Lossless audio forms||No Windows / Android app|
Apple Voice costs $4.99 per month. To unlock the full power of Apple Music, you can subscribe to an Individual plan for $9.99/month or a Family plan for $14.99/month.
A one-month free trial is also available.
#4 – Amazon Music
Amazon Music is one of the cheapest HiFi options if you already have Prime. It’s also a solid choice if you plan on streaming through Alexa devices (like the Amazon Echo).
Like Apple Music, Amazon hasn’t held back when it comes to quality. They offer CD-quality bitrates of 16-bit on over 75 million tracks, plus even more in 24-bit.
There’s also a huge catalog of songs mixed in spatial audio that you can listen to through your headphones without any special equipment for an immersive, surround-sound experience.
Device compatibility is excellent. You can listen to Amazon Music on Android and iOS apps, as well as on desktops (PC or Mac) through the web player or desktop app.
And of course, integration with Amazon home speaker products like Amazon Echo is second to none. It’s not the only streaming service supported by the Echo, but it is the best.
All that said, we don’t love Amazon Music’s app interface. It just doesn’t seem well organized and the user experience is lacking. For example, you can’t favorite songs and artists (only songs and albums), which is a little annoying. And other streaming services seem to do better when it comes to curated recommendations and music discovery.
If you’d like to learn more, check out our roundup of Amazon Music statistics.
Available in: US, UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, and many countries in Europe & South America
Pros and cons
|Excellent smart device integration||Poor UX|
|HiFi audio||Some users may not want to support Amazon due to controversies|
|Cost-effective for Prime users|
Amazon Music Unlimited plans start at $9.99/month or $8.99/month if you have a Prime membership. A 3-month free trial is available.
#5 – Tidal
Tidal is a high-fidelity platform and one of the best music streaming services for audiophiles. Sound quality is exceptional across the board with a range of audio formats to choose from.
There are three main formats to choose from on Tidal. You can listen to music in:
- ‘Normal’ AAC format (160 kbps) to save on data usage..
- ‘HiFi’ Lossless / FLAC format (1411 kbps) for a crisper music streaming experience at CD quality.
- ‘Master’ high-res MQA format (2304-9216 kbps) for the most authentic and flawless sound, exactly as the artist intended (only available on HiFi Plus).
Now it’s worth pointing out here that not everyone is convinced that MQA is everything it claims to be. Some audio experts say it’s worse than the lossless FLAC format. Nonetheless, it’s an option if you want to try it out.
HiFi Plus subscribers also get access to other innovative audio formats like Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio, which can add a new dimension to your listening experience.
Another one of the best things about Tidal is how it supports its artists. Artist payouts are much better than other platforms on this list, which makes it a sensible choice if you care about giving back to the musicians you listen to.
Up to 10% of the money you pay for a subscription goes to the artists you listen to the most every month.
Other things we like about Tidal include its awesome-looking interface, integration with Plex Media Service, and device compatibility.
In terms of drawbacks, there’s the aforementioned issue with MQA formats. Plus, while the app looks great, it can be a little buggy from time to time. And the discovery and shuffle algorithms aren’t the best.
Better artist payout than many other streaming platforms. Integration with Plex media server.
Available in: Over 60 countries
Pros and cons
|Artist-first platform (good payout system)||A little buggy|
|Excellent HiFi audio||MQA format|
|Cool interface||Sub-par discovery and shuffle algorithms|
A standard HiFi subscription costs $9.99 per month. HiFi Plus costs $19.99 and includes MQA and immersive audio options. Family plans and discounted plans are also available.
You can try it out for 30 days for free.
#6 – Deezer
Deezer is another high-quality streaming service worth checking out. It has over 90 million HiFi tracks that you can listen to in lossless, high-quality audio formats. Plus a growing catalog of 360 Reality Audio tracks.
One of the things we like most about Deezer is its cutting-edge feature set.
For example, there’s the Deezer-exclusive Flow feature, which uses the power of AI to serve up an infinite mix of tracks you’ll love based on your mood. All you have to do is pick a filter from the mood wheel (e.g. chill, motivation, melancholy) and let the platform be your personal DJ.
There’s also the Lyrics feature for when you feel like singing along to the music, a download function so you can listen offline, and even an integrated SongCatcher tool that can recognize songs playing around you and add them to your track list so you can listen later.
In terms of apps and integrations, Deezer is almost on-par with Spotify. It’s available in most of the same places, plus some places where even Spotify isn’t available.
And like Tidal, Deezer has a user-centric payout system that allocates your subscription payments to the artists you listen to most.
My biggest gripe with Deezer is its content limits. There are certain caps on how you can use it. For example, you can add up to 10,000 tracks to your favorites, 2,000 playlists, 1,000 artists, etc. Most people won’t reach these limits, but it’s still worth being aware of.
Learn more in our roundup of Deezer stats where we look at how many users it has, it’s growth, marketshare, and more.
Available in: 185+ countries
Pros and cons
|Exclusive features||UI could be better|
|Apps and integrations||Content limits|
|Great for supporting artists|
Deezer offers an ad-supported Free plan. The Premium plan costs $10.99/month and the Family plan costs $17.99/month. You can try it for free for 1 month.
#7 – Pandora
Pandora is the best music streaming service for personalized recommendations. It’s only available to listeners in the US.
Pandora is different from the other platforms in this list. Its USP is that it’s designed to create a personalized listening experience that evolves with your tastes. The algorithm gets to know what you like and serves up hand-curated music picked out just for you.
It’s powered by the Music Genome Project — the most comprehensive analysis of music ever to be done. Pandora’s team of musicologists has spent years listening to music across different genres and studying how individuals relate to different musical attributes and details in their tracks.
The result is one of the best recommendation algorithms around. To further personalize music for your tastes, Pandora uses a ‘thumbs up and thumbs down’ feature. You click thumbs up or down depending on whether you like a song and Pandora feeds that back into the algorithm to determine what plays next.
If you get a song you don’t like, you can skip it as many times as you want (though you’ll have to view an ad first if you’re a free user). Premium users can also search for and play any song in Pandora’s library on demand.
The main downside is that the Audio quality is pretty poor, comparatively speaking. And while Pandora has its own thing going on, it can’t really compete with the other streaming services we’ve looked at so far in terms of things like integrations, performance, etc.
If you’re curious about the state of Pandora’s growth and customer-base, check out our post on Pandora statistics.
Available in: US
Pros and cons
|Great recommendation algorithm||Only available in the US|
|Personalized listening experience||Poor sound quality|
|Nice and simple UI|
You can get started with Pandora Free.
To unlock unlimited ad-free skips and personalized stations, upgrade to Plus for $4.99/month. If you want to make and share playlists, and search and play for music without viewing ads, you can upgrade to Premium for $9.99/month.
#8 – IDAGIO
IDAGIO is the best music streaming service for classical music. You can think of it like Spotify but for classical music buffs.
IDAGIO is actually the only audio streaming and concert subscription service in the world specifically designed for listening to classical music. Its mission is to bring together artists and listeners with a joint passion for the genre.
So if you’re into your Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky, this is the best place to get your fix.
And IDAGIO knows what its audience wants. Aside from a curated track list of millions of classical pieces, there are a few other features classical music connoisseurs will appreciate in a streaming service.
First off, there are the discovery features. Here’s the thing: You can listen to classical music on other streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify—if you can find them. But finding them is easier said than done on these mainstream platforms.
Why? Metadata. You see, searching for popular music usually requires only a handful of metadata. The artist, song, and the album is pretty much all you need to find what you’re looking for.
This isn’t the case with classical music, where metadata can include everything from the composer, orchestra, choir, conductor, piece title, number or nomenclature indicating its order in the larger symphony, etc. You get the idea.
IDAGIO gets it too. That’s why it’s made sure to include all the necessary metadata so that searches are a breeze. You can browse by composers, conductors, instruments, genres, periods, and more to discover new classical music. And if you’re not already a classical buff, you can use the Discover button to explore essential listening and curated themed playlists.
You can also stream exclusive live performances of your favorite classical artists on the world’s biggest stages in IDAGIO’s concert hall, network with like-minded listeners and artists in IDAGIO’s interactive creative spaces, and more.
Available in: Over 190 countries (not including Mainland China or Hong Kong)
Pros and cons
|Hand-curated catalog of classical music||No other genres|
|Complete metadata||Not available on as many devices as Spotify|
|Excellent discovery features|
|Live stream concerts|
IDAGIO offers a basic Free plan. Paid plans start at $9.99/month.
Choosing the best music streaming service
That concludes our roundup of the best music streaming services. If you’re still not sure which one to choose, here’s what we’d suggest:
- Use Spotify if you just want to listen casually and you prioritize features, user interface, and compatibility over HiFi audio quality.
- Choose YouTube Music if you’re already paying for YouTube Premium, or you mostly watch music videos rather than purely listen to audio.
- Go for Apple Music if you’re already immersed in the Apple ecosystem and want to listen on your iPhone, iPad, Macbook, etc., or if you want HiFi.
We hope you found this helpful. Enjoy!