The music industry has undergone monumental changes in recent years as digital platforms transform how people consume their favorite bands and artists. Now, several music streaming services provide similar offerings, equally impressive content catalogs, apps that enable offline listening and personalized content opportunities at level price points.
Almost 37% of total recorded music revenue came from paid streaming services’ 255 million users in 2018, according to data from IFPI’s Global Music Report. A 10% decline in revenue from physical music sales and a 21.2% reduction in download revenues followed. With music streaming on the rise, we’ve compared the leading services you should consider for music streaming.
Top five music streaming services
Our methodology and research
We reviewed the major music streaming services then picked out the top five options, including the industry’s big players and those with the widest music libraries, best user experiences and highest music quality.
Number of music streaming platforms researched: 16
Criteria used: Monthly price, free trial length, size of music catalog, free streaming options, music discovery service and sound quality
Music streaming services compared
|Amazon Music Unlimited||Apple Music||Deezer||Spotify||YouTube Music Premium|
|Student and Family plans available||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free trial length||30 days||3 months|
6 months with Student plan
90 days with HiFi plan
|3 months||1 month|
3 months with Premium plan
|Number of songs||50 million||60 million||56 million||50 million+||30 million|
|Highest sound quality||3730 kbps||256 kbps||176 kbps||320 kbps||256 kbps|
|Free plan available||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
Find your perfect music streaming service
The similarities between the most popular music streaming services make choosing one a tough task. Your selection will be dependent on your preferred listening device, the type of content you want and the service’s new music offerings.
Best high-quality music streaming service: Amazon Music Unlimited
Amazon Music has fantastic sound quality. The launch of Amazon Music HD in September 2019 provides three to four times better quality than its rivals, making it a natural choice if that’s your major driver.
A free version of Amazon’s music streaming service doesn’t exist, and it has a limited range of non-music content.
iOS, Android and Web browser
Best all-around music streaming platform: Apple Music
The original streaming platform with its iTunes roots, Apple Music offers an excellent all-around service. Features like music videos, playlists, radio and podcasts appeal to Apple devotees and Android users alike. The platform features Siri and Apple Watch integration for the Apple product users. The company is also battling Spotify’s stranglehold on new music discovery with mixes based on listening history and music your friends listen to.
There’s no free version of Apple Music.
Android, Apple Watch, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC and Sonos
Best high-quality music streaming challenger: Deezer
Deezer has a library of 56 million songs, along with a high-quality sound that’s just been matched by Amazon. Its Flow service learns your musical likes and dislikes to provide truly personalized listening. A three-month free trial offer gives you ample time to compare it against bigger name competitors.
Deezer lacks a free mobile app, and the desktop app isn’t available offline, which may influence your choice if you’re looking for an on-the-go service. Its music curation also lags behind Spotify and Apple.
Android, iOS, Web browser and Smartphone
Best music streaming platform for new music discovery: Spotify
Spotify is the number one choice for expanding your musical boundaries. Collaborative, curated playlists help you discover new bands and artists based on your listening preferences. It also provides a rich library of non-music content, including audiobooks, comedy, podcasts, poetry readings and speeches.
Spotify lacks some of its competitors’ high-resolution music, so look elsewhere if sound quality is your top priority. You also won’t get the lyric pop-ups you’ll find on other services, and its favored artist interface isn’t the most user-friendly.
iOS, Android, Mac and PC
Best for music video streaming: YouTube Music Premium
Unlike the other music streaming platforms on this list, with the exception of Apple Music, YouTube’s service is built around videos, making it perfect if watching gigs and music videos is a key priority.
YouTube tends to pay content creators substantially less than its competitors.
iOS, Android and Web browser
The days of listening to music on cassette, tape or vinyl are long gone for most people. A range of streaming platforms provides easily accessible, always available music with options for everyone, from the highest quality and widest choice of music to discovering the hottest new bands. All services offer free trials of varying lengths, giving you the chance to test them all out.