| 18 Jun 2024
Top music streaming services amid coronavirus lockdown

MUMBAI: Amid the coronavirus lockdown, when you’re stuck inside the house for a longer period and you’re bored, Music is the key here. Music streaming is free and also cheap. vinyl may be making a resurgence among audiophiles, but if you're concerned about sound quality then streaming still has a lot to offer. In some cases, subscription services can sound indistinguishable from, or even better than, a CD.

According to the report of music streaming apps and options services such as Spotify, Pandora Premium, Apple Music and Tidal as well as Amazon Music Unlimited and YouTube Music to see how each platform stacks up for your subscription buck. While most boast music catalogues of more than 50 million songs, each has its own unique pros and cons. We've also left out services that only play music in a radio format and don't offer a la carte listening.

According to the report most of the services start from $9.99, but there's a full price breakdown in the chart at the bottom of the page. The five top music streaming services are:

1. Spotify-

It's a close race between Spotify Premium and Apple Music but Spotify wins, easy-to-use interface, an extensive catalogue and the best device compatibility. Spotify also offers our favourite free tier. Without paying a dime you can still stream over Spotify Connect to numerous devices and you don't even need to provide a credit card.

Spotify is the pioneer in the music-streaming space, and it's arguably the best known. It offers a number of curated music discovery services, including its Discover Weekly playlist, and is constantly implementing new ones, such as Stations. The service's Facebook integration makes sharing music on Spotify easier than competitors. Spotify allows you to send a track or album, collaborate on playlists with friends or peek at what your Facebook friends are listening to.

2. Apple Music-

Apple Music is a close second and it's the only one of the "big four" with a digital locker to store your own library of songs. If you own an Apple Home Pod, you'll need this subscription service to summon music with your voice. It also makes the ideal companion for an iPod Touch, which, amazingly, is still a thing.

While it suffered from teething problems at the beginning, Apple Music has grown to become one of the most popular streaming services. It offers plenty of features and a wealth of discount options for families and students. There's also ton of curated playlists, many hand-crafted by musicians and tastemakers, but it still lacks the robust sharing options built into Spotify.

3. Tidal -

In third place is Tidal, which offers a wide selection of music beyond its most eye-catching urban names. Its higher-priced options are especially suited to people seeking the best audio quality. Currently it's a great deal too, offering four months of music for $4. Read more.

Owned by hip-hop mogul Jay Z, Tidal is the only "major" streaming music service that offers lossless audio streaming with sound quality that is virtually identical to or better than CD. Tidal has offered exclusive content in the past from its superstar co-owners, including Beyonce's album Lemonade or Kanye West's The Life of Pablo, but this trend has thankfully subsided. Tidal says its catalog now exceeds 60 million tracks, but it may not always have everything you're looking for. For example, Metallica is a Spotify exclusive. If you're an audiophile, a fan of R&B or hip-hop, or a mix of both, then Tidal should appeal to you.

4. You Tube Music -

Google Play Music was supposed to be replaced by YouTube Music by now, but it's not happened yet. This leaves us with two similar services. While Google says it's working on migrating members from one service to the other there are still some major hurdles. Firstly, there's no way to copy your Play Music library to the YouTube Music one, not even with a paid, third-party service such as Soundiiz. Secondly, only Google Play Music works as both a streaming-music service and a music locker: It allows you to store and stream your entire music library (up to 50,000 songs), as well as stream any of the 30 million songs in its catalogue.

Meanwhile, if you sign up for the ad-free YouTube Premium you get YouTube Music thrown in for free. YouTube Music offers a cleaner interface than Google Play Music, and Google says the digital locker functionality is coming... sometime.

Instead of playlists, both services offer well-curated radio stations which are the standout features. Unlike playlists, which are finite and contain specific tracks, radio stations play endlessly and are updated often.

5. Amazon Music Unlimited -

Amazon Music Unlimited is the "grown-up" version of Amazon Prime Music, which Prime subscribers get for "free." It offers a greatly expanded catalogue for an extra outlay per month. Rather than focusing on the cutting edge of music as some others here do, the Amazon music service features recommended playlists and radio stations that are grouped around artists you've already listened to.