Whether you’re stuck inside to help flatten the curve or operate an essential service and want to keep spirits high, music can be highly therapeutic. Put on your favourite playlist or a classic album, crank the volume, and enjoy some great tunes! With that said, music streaming services have taken the place of CDs of the past, and vinyl record collecting has become more of a hobby for high-end audiophiles with expensive equipment.
So, what are your options for everyday, simple-to-use streaming services? Let’s explore in more detail.
Spotify is the number one pick for those who love a massive library of music – the biggest in the world – and want easy access to it. Every day, new albums and singles are added, and this streaming service does a fantastic job of organizing it all for you according to genre, mood, and even activity. Dedicated playlists are where Spotify really shines – they’ve made dozens upon dozens for every occasion, from road trips to weddings, and mixes for improving focus! Whether you’re cleaning the house or socially distancing in style, there’s an unlimited number of specially curated playlists by both Spotify themselves and other users of the service, which means you’re never going to run out of tracks to listen to.
Pricing for Spotify is about as fair as it can get, too – it’s free if you can put up with the ads! There are also affordable premium options available for single users or family packages so multiple folks in your household can have their own accounts. Free trials are also available for premium tiers when you sign up. You can even share favourite custom playlists, songs, and albums or follow along as they create their own custom mixes – it’s a bit like social media mixed with iTunes!
Speaking of iTunes, Apple Music is another great streaming alternative, only second to Spotify in terms of popularity due to widespread device adoption. The service has been around for several years now, which means that it has only gotten better with continued refinements to the software. Now, it’s set to fully replace iTunes as the go-to music source for Apple fans. Integration with an iOS device is quick, seamless, and hassle-free in that addictive way the company is known for.
As for features, student deals are available in terms of pricing, and Apple Music is often home to specially curated videos by artists. Speaking of which, music videos are also available, so the content library effective doubles if you’re into it. Along with special playlists, free trials, family plans and more, there’s no reason not to consider it if you own an Apple device. At this time, Android and Windows integration are spotty, so we’d still recommend an alternative service if you only use those devices.
Most of us, especially in the current state of the world around us, are turning to online shopping to stay stocked up. Most of us also use Amazon with a Prime membership because it’s fast, convenient, and hassle-free. However, did you know that your membership comes with some extra goodies, including dedicated movie and music streaming services? The latter, Amazon Prime Music, offers many of the same benefits as Spotify and Apple Music, including no ads, high-quality audio, and on-demand access to over a million songs. The best part is that you don’t have to pay anything extra if you have an existing Amazon Prime membership – it’s all part of the package! Our only gripe is that the music library is more limited and the user interface isn’t as beautifully polished as more popular competitors, but when it’s essentially a free bonus for a service you already rely on, who can complain?
Tidal is the odd one of the bunch. It’s an impeccably polished, high-quality experience designed with the serious audiophile in mind. The standout feature of the service – one that no other competitor has provided – is lossless, uncompressed audio streaming. Pair this with audiophile-grade headphones (a favourite of our team is the trusty Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro) and an amp with a built-in DAC, and you’re in music heaven. The only problem is, once you’ve entered the world of high-fidelity music streaming, everything else is going to sound muddied and less satisfying. Tidal really knows how to sink its teeth into you, immersing listeners with deep, powerful bass and extended dynamic range. Every instrument has breathing room and space to shine, rather than fighting one another in a compressed format and flatter sound.
Our biggest complaint, if we have to pick one, is the music library. It’s simply way too limited, especially given that this service is the costliest per month out of all of the ones we’ve listed. We’re dying to hear more great albums in this LP-quality format. If you’re looking for value during these tough times, there are better options out there in terms of stretching every penny. Otherwise, if you feel like indulging and are seriously into R&B and rap music, Tidal is amazing.
Have you tried any of these services yet? Now’s the time to get into something new and take your mind off what’s going on outside, so enjoy the opportunity to revisit some classic tunes – and discover new favourites.