Apple Music is the latest addition, but there are many platforms for online music. Which one is best for you?
In the beginning, there were large vinyl disks that required a large piece of equipment called a “record player” (remember those?). Apparently, following this there were 8-track tapes, tape cassettes and CDs.
Today’s music outlet? Online streaming.
Many of today’s teens have spent their entire lives buying music from the iTunes library. For some time you could buy an entire newly-released album for only $9.99 and individual songs were only $0.99, making it somewhat affordable to obtain music. However, Apple slowly raised prices right around the time that streaming platforms like Pandora and Spotify came to light.
With the onset of cheaper (and in some cases free) music streaming services, many people quickly abandoned iTunes and subscribed to these new streaming services. For the price of one iTunes album you could sign up for a monthly package and have unlimited music streamed to your desktop, tablet or smartphone, all without any ads.
Unsurprisingly, Apple has now developed its own music streaming service: Apple Music. The new service was released June 30, meaning you can now sign up for your free trial. Apple Music also comes with iOS 8.4, but it’s entirely up to you whether or not you subscribe.
But before you dive into Apple’s latest and greatest release, see what other options are available (and trust us, they’re pretty good):
In just a couple of years Spotify went from a hipster’s closeted secret to the world’s most talked about online music streaming service. Today, Spotify has over 75 million active users, with 20 million of those paying monthly for the service. There are well over 30 million songs currently on Spotify and over 20,000 more are added daily.
What makes Spotify so appealing? Most likely its huge library and array of useful features. For example, you can make your own playlists from Spotify’s library so that you can listen to your music offline. In addition, you can discover hundreds of existing playlists ranging from “Deep Focus” to “Ultimate Workout Playlist”. If playlists aren’t your thing, go ahead and search for almost any artist imaginable. However, don’t expect to find some of your favorites such as The Beatles or Taylor Swift.
Spotify is the perfect service for those looking for a huge library of music at a reasonable price. The service is only $9.99 a month, and a shared family account is also available for just $14.99. College students pay a discounted price of $4.99 a month. If paying monthly isn’t your thing, try out the free version.
Pandora has been around longer that many of its competitors, but it remains near the top with over 80 million users. Everyone from young teens to your grandparents are using Pandora.
Pandora is a bit different from the rest. You start by selecting an artist you like and then Pandora will intelligently choose other artists within your chosen genre. You can filter out the music that you don’t enjoy by giving the song a thumbs down, or if you want to hear music similar to the song you’re listening to, give it a thumbs up. By doing this, Pandora finds music that you actually want to keep hearing to cater their service to your interests.
Pandora works great if you’re going to be listening to music for a long period of time and you don’t have a specific song in mind. However, it does not allow you to search for an individual song, leaving it up to their filters to find the right music for you. You put your ears in the hands of technology with Pandora.
Pandora offers a free service which is peppered with ads, or an upgraded version that’s ad-free and allows for more skips for only $4.99 a month. Pandora is compatible across all devices, meaning you can take your favorite bands on the go.
Jay-Z made a splash (sorry about the pun) earlier this year in the streaming scene with Tidal: his “high fidelity” online music service (in other words, “high definition” sound”). So far, mostly celebrities and musicians in the rap scene are behind Tidal.
The tech company Aspiro was actually behind the new service, but Jay-Z took it over and made it his own. Since then he’s attempted to save the music industry by “not selling out” and actually producing music that’s high quality and “sounds good”. So far, Tidal already has over 25 million tracks, with more and more being added daily.
Jay-Z also wants to make sure that artists are being paid for the work they do. This equates to higher fees for Tidal; you have to pay at least $9.99 a month for the basic option, and $19.99 for the high fidelity tunes. You receive full access with either, but the more expensive package has higher quality sound.
Apple Music is the newest of the online streaming services, and it comes as no surprise that it has already been successful, especially considering the tech giant already owns Beats Electronics and has ties with every major DJ out there. Apple Music features over 30 million tracks, and yes, it even has Taylor Swift’s 1989 album.
In addition to streaming the songs you search for, Apple Music also offers playlists from famous DJs such as Drake, Zane Lowe and other “talented music experts”, as put by Forbes. This is designed to help users find new music that they’ll enjoy, broadening their music listening experience.
Apple will stay competitive with their prices, offering a complete service for $9.99 or a family plan for $14.99. There is no free version, but Apple does offer a free three-month trial.
If you’re still paying $1.29 a song, it’s time to embrace the future. Try out these four services to find out which one you like best. All services have accompanying apps so you can take your music on the go, allowing you to find new music whether you’re on the bus, at work or doing the housework.