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Published on March 23rd, 2016 | by Alan Cross

3

UPDATE: Which Streaming Music Service is Best? Listeners Offer Advice

UPDATED WITH MORE COMMENTS. Scroll down for the latest.

On my radio show on 102.1 the Edge/Toronto (1-2pm Mo-Fr), I talked about how Spotify had hit the 30 million mark when it came to subscribers. I also mused about which of the Big Three streaming services–Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play Music–were worth the ten bucks a month. It doesn’t make financial sense for most people to subscribe to all three, so I put the question out there: Which one do you use? (YouTube users were excused from answering because I’m only concerned with paid use of the Big Three.)  Here’s how people responded.

Hi Alan!

As the subject line says, I’m a Spotify user myself. My reasons for subscribing are the sheer number of artists, albums available, and the ability to switch between songs at will endlessly with a subscription whenever I can’t listen to the edge. The other bonus is the ability to listen to your custom-made playlists offline with a subscription whenever WiFi is unavailable, which, coincidentally is usually when the edge is unavailable.

Cheers,

Ted

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Hi Alan,

Great show, love listening to you!

Haven’t registered yet with a streaming service, but when I do I will definitely use Apple Music since I already purchase all my music in iTunes, own an iPhone and MacBook … Makes the most sense for me.

Regards,

Gaetano La Marca

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Spotify allows you to really reliably listen to music offline.  I used it throughout Europe and just downloaded the playlists I wanted on to my phone. When i wanted to change its just a button. Super convenient.

Cheers!

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Hey Alan,

Just heard you taking about streaming. I have used all the following both free and paid.

Rdio. One year paid. 3 months free.

Best for albums and sharing. Great user experience. Heavy rotation was an amazing discovery tool. Buggy apps.

Spotify. 1.5 years paid. 6 months free

Best for singles and following artists playlists. Most stable but leaves much to be desired in user experience. Bad sharing. Used to be better.  But they tool away the app store.

Google music. Paid 5 months now. Free as songza.

Great combo of rdio’s focus on albums and personal playlists. Has songza discovery playlists which are great. Good user experience. Can save 50k of your own rare stuff and it will stream it. Great offline and pairing with amps and smart TVs. No social what so ever.

Apple music

Tire fire.

—–

From: Richard Hornby

Hey Alan: Me and my buddies use spotify every weekend its a free subscribtion on my buddies ps4 we have found it best and most simple to navigate, of the big 3 you mentioned!

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Hey Alan,

I’ve always enjoyed Spotify over the other competitors. I enjoy the setup, the large variety of playlists…it’s what I’ve always used! Perhaps I’m a creature of habit.

Thank you,
Stephanie-Ann Savage

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I use all 3, Alan.

Mary

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Just heard your bit on radio.  Used songza for the longest time but as soon as Spotify was available in Canada I’ve been using it.  Love the site.

Angela

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Slacker radio is my fave

Regards,

Greg Varlow

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From: Tyler

I’ve been using xbox/microsoft groove

Great audio quality hd music videos and the ability to make offline playlists for mobile devices

—–

Heard you folks talking about music apps this morning and my coworkers and I usually comment to one another after listening. Winamp is one of the only apps I’ve ever purchased for my phone (because I’m a 90’s kid) but about a year or two ago they stopped doing updates /upgrades and the app no longer works on my phone. $9.99 well spent I suppose. I’m still holding onto hope that they will bring it back! ‘It really kicks the Llama’s ass’.

Anyway, have a good Easter weekend and hope this adds a bit to your conversation.

Cheers,

Jarrod

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Hi Alan,

I’ve tried a few different services, and like you I tried them all side by side for a true comparison.

Here is my feedback:

Apple Music: I loved their radio stations, if I felt like Rock, or Hip Hop, I felt the selection of music was better, the like or heart actually seems to work and gear the rest of the music on that station towards my interests. What I didn’t like is how when I like or heart a track, I don’t have a list of the music I previously liked. It was just stored with apple for their algorithms for selecting music that interested me.

Spotify: The interface is easy to use, their playlists and radio stations are really good, very comparable to Apple music, but slightly behind. the radio stations seem to start repeating the same tracks after a while, then after a couple of weeks, you feel like you are just hearing the same stuff over and over again. What I really like about spotify though is that anything I like get stored into a playlist, on top of trying to improve my station. so when I want to create my playlists, rather than spending time searching for music I’veHi Alan,

At our house we stream with Apple Music. We actually get free Spotify accounts with our Roger’s subscription, but after the free trial of Apple music I decided to just keep it and haven’t really had any reason to regret it. There’s a bit of playlist hassle with adding new songs from Apple Music to older playlists, but it really isn’t hard to just make a new playlist, so it works. Also, Roger’s has a tendency to just cut off these things without much warning so I’m hesitant to take advantage of them.

The only thing I don’t like is that there are some older songs (many classic, much loved songs!) that I can’t find on Apple Music by the original artist – only covers (sometimes horrifying covers! lol), I have to actually purchase them through iTunes and add them to playlists that way. But I love the different playlists I can find on Apple Music too, sometimes there’s songs I forgot I loved on them! And the radio is awesome – there’s even a Canadian Indie station!

To be totally fair though, I wasn’t using a streaming service before, so I’m not saying it’s the best streaming service, just the first one I became accustomed to (and initially hated because I couldn’t figure out how to just play what I wanted). I was one of those people who would just get an mp3 from a YouTube video. I feel slightly less piratish this way. J liked, I can just scroll through my list. also I can add it on the fly to a playlist while listening, but it takes a couple of steps. easier to like songs on the fly, then collectively add them later.

there are some tracks that aren’t available on Apple Music like soundtracks, so there are some differences in the selection of music.

My preference, I decided to go with Spotify, easier interface, better selection of music, and easier to manage my playlists. Apple Music was just too busy, although their playlists and radio’s were slightly better, that wasn’t enough for me.

I hope this helps 🙂

Rich Poweska

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I’ve been with Slacker Radio for a while.   I like it because it works on my phone, amplifier, and even a blackberry tablet.  It also has concierge-type playlists and a ‘favorites’ playlist with adjustable controls (related artists, newness of music, ect ) and good sound quality @320kbps

Ben

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I subscribe to Apple because of the built in feature on my phone. I don’t like the service and much prefer the MP3 system because I can not easily find access to international music. 

Sean Williams

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Hi Alan,

 At our house we stream with Apple Music. We actually get free Spotify accounts with our Roger’s subscription, but after the free trial of Apple music I decided to just keep it and haven’t really had any reason to regret it. There’s a bit of playlist hassle with adding new songs from Apple Music to older playlists, but it really isn’t hard to just make a new playlist, so it works. Also, Roger’s has a tendency to just cut off these things without much warning so I’m hesitant to take advantage of them.

 The only thing I don’t like is that there are some older songs (many classic, much loved songs!) that I can’t find on Apple Music by the original artist – only covers (sometimes horrifying covers! lol), I have to actually purchase them through iTunes and add them to playlists that way. But I love the different playlists I can find on Apple Music too, sometimes there’s songs I forgot I loved on them! And the radio is awesome – there’s even a Canadian Indie station!

 To be totally fair though, I wasn’t using a streaming service before, so I’m not saying it’s the best streaming service, just the first one I became accustomed to (and initially hated because I couldn’t figure out how to just play what I wanted). I was one of those people who would just get an mp3 from a YouTube video. I feel slightly less piratish this way. 

Sarah

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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3 Responses to UPDATE: Which Streaming Music Service is Best? Listeners Offer Advice

  1. Mike says:

    Being a Samsung/Android user, I signed up for the six-month trial of Google Play Music about five months ago, but really only started using it a lot recently. For me, the game changer was getting Chrome Cast Audio for my home stereo. When I first signed up, I didn’t use it much because in the car I don’t want to eat up all the data associated with streaming and so would rather plus in my iPod Classic with 155 GB of music, and at home I have a massive CD and vinyl collection, plus that iPod Classic (mostly ripped at 320 kps) that also connects to my stereo. I didn’t like casting audio via ChromeCast to the TV when I could get better sound through the stereo with the other formats. However, since I can now cast Google Music to the stereo, I’ve been doing it a lot. The other thing that attracted me to Google Music over Spotify was the ability to upload my entire iTunes library to Google Music, allowing me to listen to both its huge library plus my own collection, some of which is not available for streaming (bootlegs, obscure stuff, The Beatles until recently, etc.)

    I have to say, I really like Google Music and am surprised it doesn’t get nearly the attention that Apple Music and Spotify get, both because it’s an excellent service and because of the marketing power of Google. I thought it would be a lot more popular than it seems to be. My only issue with it is that the user interface could be better when scrolling through the user’s own uploaded library.

    I was also selfishly pleased when Google bought Songza (sorry, I know that cost you a job) and folded it into Google Music, since I was also a Songza user and it’s nice to have both services in one place.

    Because of my own home audio setup, the ability to listen to Google Music on the stereo via the ChromeCast Audio is what will keep me using Google Music. My free trial expires next month and I plan to start paying for it, which I honestly doubted would be the case when I signed up. I originally planned to just use the free version that stills provides access to my own uploaded library plus the Songza playlists. But I have loved just being able to pull up any album I hear/read about and check it out instantly.

    Mike

    • Greg G. says:

      Spotify’s app on Android and iOS also allows the ability to stream to a Chromecast device….

      • MIke says:

        Good to know. I don’t believe Spotify allows you to upload your own iTunes library, or does it? That was the other major attraction for me to Google Music. I have the free version of Spotify on my phone but almost never use it.

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