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Article: Which Streaming Service Is Best for YOU?

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Which Streaming Service Is Best for YOU?

streamingmusic-fb There is an increasing amount of music streaming services the world is offering these days. From YouTube to Spotify, Pandora to Google Play, it’s hard to know which streaming service is best for you and your needs . . . and let’s not forget your family’s needs, too! To help you pick the best service for you, we’ve created a chart to give you a look at the top streaming services at a glance, plus, we’ve detailed the pros and cons of our favorite streaming services and selected the best service for every music personality — from the audiophiles and desk jockeys to families and road warriors. Read on! (And feel free to stream Rockabye on one of these services while you do.) streamingmusicchart YOUTUBE Cost: Free (subscriptions are on the way) Compatibility: Universal (works on any browser or device) Quality: Up to 192kbps (variable, based on connection speed) Selection: Enormous Pros:
  • Easily accessible — no special software needed — works on any browser or device
  • Great for finding new, undiscovered music
  • Obscurities like demos, live performances, unreleased tracks abound
  • Audio quality is inconsistent
  • Ads are abundant
  • Lacks efficiency in its structure
  • Fewer official releases than other services
Is it for you? YouTube is without a doubt, one of the most well-known ways to stream music. It’s a great way to easily find, and listen to, a popular new song without having to offer up your e-mail and personal details. Final word: If you’re looking for a song on the tip of your tongue or some instant gratification you’ll do well here as long as you don't mind listening to an ad first. However, if you’re the kind of person who wants to absorb an album from your favorite band without distraction, read on.   PANDORA Cost: Free (Ad-Enabled) / $5.99 per month (Ad-Free) Compatibility: Universal Quality: Free - 64kbps / Paid - 192kbps Selection: Good Pros:
  • Easily accessible — no special software needed — works on any browser or device
  • Great way to find music based on your tastes
  • “Radio” format allows for hands-off listening
  • Audio could be very poor by today’s standards
  • Limitations on skipping unwanted tracks can be irritating
  • Limited music selection means you’ll end up hearing a lot of the same songs over and over.
Is it for you? Pandora Internet Radio is arguably one of the oldest and most popular ways to stream music. To date it remains a staple for many who like to listen to music, but don’t want to spend the time queuing artists or creating playlists. The “set it and forget it functionality” means it’s a good solution for those at work or at a dinner party. Final word: Pandora is the “hands-off” way to listen to music, but if you’re looking to stream an album or put together a playlist for something specific keep looking.   SPOTIFY Cost: Free (Ad-Enabled) / $9.99 per month (Ad-Free) Compatibility: Universal Quality: Free - 160kbps / Paid - 320kbps Selection: Huge Pros:
  • Enormous library of songs and albums from nearly every artist . . .ever.
  • Works on any device
  • Free version on a non-mobile device is a dream
  • Free version on mobile is a subpar Pandora clone
  • Still missing some of the bigger artists
  • Clunky and, at times, inconsistent interface
Is it for you? If you’re like 99% of the rest of the world, absolutely. Spotify is already a household name and dominates the streaming market. While there are a few minor drawbacks, Spotify overall is a rich, full-featured streaming platform with an enormous library. Since the only drawback here is that the free mobile version is more or less designed as a way to get you to sign up for premium, we feel it’s by far the best choice. Final word: A no-brainer for anyone into music. No other service comes close to compatibility and Spotify’s free (desktop) version has yet to be challenged.   GOOGLE PLAY MUSIC Cost: Free (Ad-Enabled Radio) / $9.99 per month (Ad-Free) Compatibility: Any Web browser / iOS and Android devices (no Windows Phone) Quality: Up to 320kbps (variable - based on connection speed) Selection: Huge Pros:
  • High-quality audio
  • Music Key allows ad-free and offline YouTube playback (Paid version only)
  • Allows you to upload your own mp3s, up to 50,000 songs
  • Mobile use limited to iOS and Android devices only
  • No standalone desktop app - only in-browser flash enabled playback
  • Free version is ad-enabled radio only
Is it for you? Google Play Music offers some interesting features not found on any other service. If you pay the subscription fee you’re allowed ad-free and offline viewing of YouTube music videos. In addition, even if you don’t pay for it, Google allows you to upload up to 50,000 of your own mp3s to your cloud for playback on nearly any device. Final word: While its free version doesn't come close to Spotify (at least on the desktop) its features and subscription bonuses are great if you’re an avid YouTube user.   APPLE MUSIC Cost: $9.99 per month single user / $14.99 per month for family plan Compatibility: Any desktop / iOS only (as of 8/6/15) Quality: Up to 256kbps Selection: Huge Pros:
  • Households will save tons of money with the family plan
  • Automatically adds your whole iTunes library
  • Interface is a bit convoluted
  • iOS only for mobile (currently) limits the compatibility
  • No free option
Is it for you? If you’re shelling out $10 per month per person in your family, then absolutely. For only $5 more than the standard membership you can allow up to six people to utilize the service. While the interface on both desktop and mobile could use a little work, it’s very clean and visually appealing. At launch, however, it’s only available on iOS devices with apps for Android and Windows Phones coming in a few months. In addition, the lack of a free version might be a deal breaker for the thrifty. Final word: If you’ve been engrained in Apple environments, have a giant iTunes library and an iPhone, then this service is right for you just as long as you don't mind paying a monthly fee. AMAZON PRIME MUSIC Cost: Amazon Prime $99 year / $49 year for students: Prime Music service is bundled with other Prime benefits including free-two day shipping, photo storage, instant video Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Compatibility: Universal Quality: Up to 256kbps (variable - based on connection speed) Selection: Large Pros
  • Music streaming one of many perks with the service
  • Allows you to upload your own music
  • Cheaper than most
  • Subpar mobile app
  • Can only upload 250 songs before requiring an additional fee
  • No free version
  • No monthly billing option
Is it right for you? Amazon Prime Music is a nice addition to an already worthwhile service as you get so much more for less money than any other contender. That being said, a disappointing mobile app and a lack of features found on other services mar what could be a streaming giant. Final word: If you’re getting Amazon Prime just for the music look elsewhere. Otherwise you get a lot more for less money with the additional free 2-day shipping and video streaming from Amazon.   The clear winner for : Audiophiles: Sound quality is above all else, the most important thing to you. You’re hesitant about this whole “streaming thing” as nothing compares to your 180-gram vinyl collection. Google Play comes out on top when it comes to audio quality. While it does share a 320kbps bitrate with Spotify, the fact that Google's free version maintains 320kbps over Spotify’s 160kbps gives it the upper hand. Families: Your spouse and 2.5 kids are your world, sticky as they are. Apple Music family plan is the clear winner for anyone shelling out a monthly free for every music lover in their family. For $14.99 you can have up to six listeners, which would cost $60 a month on other services. Budget Listener: The ratio of your passion for music to the amount in your bank is really disproportionate. With an unmatched free service, Spotify is the clear winner for anyone with a passion for music on a budget. As long as you’re willing to ignore ads every few songs, you can stream millions of full albums without paying a single dime. Desk Jockey: You enjoy your music at a reasonable yet socially acceptable volume and avoid those “explicit” versions like the plague. While this was a close call between Pandora and Spotify, ultimately we ended up with Spotify. There’s simply no better way to listen to music while you work. That and with complete control over your playlist there is no risk of playing that one song that might make your coworkers question your life choices. Road Warrior: Always on the go, you’re at the whim of the gas in your tank and suddenly crappy cell reception. For those with intermittent Internet access, Google Play comes out on top. With the ability to upload 50,000 of your own mp3s on your personal music cloud, you can then download these directly to any device for offline listening even if you don’t pay a subscription. If you do end up shelling out the cash, you can make as many available songs available for offline play as your device can hold. While Spotify does have this feature, it’s limited to subscription members and has a limit of around 3,000 tracks. Super Fan: Sure the studio album is a masterpiece, but you’re not happy until you've heard every demo tape, B-side, and cellphone-shot live performance. With technically the most content of any streaming service, YouTube has the stuff for the mega-enthusiast. You can find some of the most obscure, homegrown, never-before-seen videos of your favorite band’s music. Seniors: The last time you listened to an album it was probably on an 8-track and your lifeline to the world of technology are your grandkids. YouTube is the choice here, although Pandora comes in at a very close second. While Pandora’s hands-off approach to streaming music is great for the technologically challenged, YouTube has the fewest hurdles. If you can type in a URL into a web browser and somewhat spell the name of the artist or song, chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for. With no need to sign up for an account, check email, or verify an account, YouTube is by far the easiest to get listening. Party Animal: Responsibility? There’s no time for that when there’s beer to be consumed. Your music is bassy and loud and your neighbors probably hate you. Spotify (Premium) - There’s nothing worse than a party getting interrupted by an ad for auto insurance so you’re willing to shell out the $9.99 - it’s on your parent's credit card anyway. With Spotify’s curated playlists you can pick the perfect soundtrack for all those mistakes you’re about to make. The Collegiate: 300 credits may or may not be enough. For you, there’s Amazon Prime Music. What’s this? How could Prime Music trump free Spotify? Since Amazon’s Prime Music is a small part of the Prime Member service and student’s receive 50% off, you’re looking at a monthly cost of a little over $4.00 a month for streaming music, movies, TV and free 2-day shipping for those overpriced textbooks. The Gamer: The soundtrack to your favorite game is the one you choose. Generate the perfect playlist on Spotify to provide the soundtrack to killing zombies, throwing grenades or racing to the finish. Spotify’s free service allows you to do this without paying a dime — less money spent on music is more money spent on games. Not to mention it’s already on PS4.

Like our suggestions? Let us know what your choice service is and why!


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