Table of Contents
We have put together The Ultimate Music Streaming Service Guide 2020 to help our readers make the right decision.
With so many music services to choose from it can be a very time-consuming process trying to work through all available options.
Hopefully, we can save some time by compiling this information in one place for you to review. Some of the questions we get from our customers are as follows:
- Which music streaming application service is best for you?
- What features do you need?
- What different premium subscription offerings can you get?
- Is there a free trial and what perks can you get?
- Which music streaming service has the best prices?
The Ultimate Music Streaming Service Guide 2020 is in alphabetical order and not in order of best to worst as they all have advantages and disadvantages to consider when deciding which application or service site will best fit the bill.
Amazon Music Prime
Amazon Music Prime is part of a membership bundle called Amazon Prime. Their offering starts with a 30-day free trial then £7.99 per month thereafter.
Amazon Music Prime Student plan comes courtesy of Microsoft Surface offering 6-months free trial then £3.99 per month thereafter. University students only.
The Amazon Prime Membership includes:
Stream 2 million songs, download for offline listening and always ad-free.
Listen to your song via one Echo (Alexa) or Fire TV device.
Unlimited premium delivery options.
Early access to exclusive deals and offers.
Watch movies, award-winning Amazon Originals and TV shows.
Access eBooks, magazines and comics.
Amazon Music Unlimited
Amazon Music Unlimited gives you access to 60 million songs. They offer 30-days free trial and then you’ll have to pay £9.99 per month per person.
If you are an existing Prime member then you can include it for an extra £7.99 per month.
The Family plan for £14.99 per month will get you 6 accounts on one plan allowing you to stream on up to six devices at once. Family members must be at least 13 years old.
Amazon Music Unlimited for Students will cost £4.99. Be aware that even if you are already a Prime student member you will still need to verify eligibility through a different screening process for Amazon Music Unlimited. Eligible for University students only.
You can use the student discount for a total of four years with concurrent student enrolment.
Amazon Music Unlimited – Single Device plan gives access to 60 million songs on a single device will cost £3.99 per month after your 30-days free trial.
*Eligible devices: Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Studio, Echo Input, Echo Spot and Fire TV.
Amazon Music HD – Premium Quality Streaming
Amazon Music HD offers a 30-days free trial only available to new subscribers.
Amazon Individual plan will cost £14.99 per month or £12.99 per month for existing Prime members that upgrade.
Amazon Family plan will cost £19.99 per month and cannot be combined with any other offer.
Key features to consider:
Unlimited access to 60 million songs in HD premium quality audio.
More than double the bitrate of standard streaming services (16-bit/44.1kHz). Lossless audio up to 850kbps
Millions of songs in Hi-Res Ultra HD.
Highest quality lossless audio up to 3730kbps is more than 10x the bitrate of standard streaming services (24-bit/192kHz).
According to Amazon Music HD, this will allow you to experience music the way the artist intended.
Device and network specifications
Connection data speeds of 1.5Mbps or higher (such as LTE).
Devices that support 16-bit/44.1kHz or higher (such as iPhone 5s or higher).
Headphones or speakers that support a dynamic range of 20kHz minimum for HD or 40kHz minimum for Ultra HD.
Amazon Music – Free
Amazon Music – Free comes with a wide selection of ad-supported songs and playlists, ideally suited for people who listen to music occasionally.
This doesn’t require any subscription commitments, but you will need to login to an Amazon account and use the online Amazon Music web player as well as a desktop app download option.
Keep in mind you will also have access to over 10 online radio stations for free spread across various music genres. Featured stations consist of Top Pop, Chillout and All-Time Classics.
Apple Music offers new subscribers 3 months/90-days free trial before any payment is required.
Individual plan costs £9.99 per month.
Family plan costs £14.99 per month. Access for up to 6 people with their own personal account. Share what you want with other family members via iCloud including iTunes purchases.
Student plan costs £4.99 per month. University students only, verification is required. Comes with free access to Apple TV+.
Key features to consider:
60 million songs plus your entire iTunes library.
Stream ad-free music and music videos.
100k download limit for listening offline.
Access across multiple devices.
See what your friends and family are listening to.
Access Beats 1 live and on-demand radio shows.
Listen live to radio stations from around the world.
Streaming quality up to 256kbps by Apple AAC audio codec.
Deezer is a European music streaming service giving access to their library of 56 million songs across all plans. They are one of the original music providers around, having established the company in 2007.
Free plan is supported by ads with limited track skips and no offline mode. WiFi or 4G is necessary. You only get mixes and playlists on the mobile app and unlimited access to songs with adverts on the desktop app. MP3 streaming up to 128kbps compressed standard quality.
Premium plan offers new subscribers 3-months/90-days free trial (excluding free plan users) to try it out before you have to pay £9.99 per month. You can connect up to 3 devices to your music app. MP3 streaming up 320kbps compressed high quality.
Committed users can choose the annual plan of Deezer Premium for £99.90 instead of £119.88, which works out at a 2-month discount (Terms & Conditions apply).
Family plan offers new subscribers the free trial and then £14.99 per month thereafter. Connect up to 6 different profiles and you can connect up to 13 different devices simultaneously. The annual plan is not available with Deezer Family.
HiFi plan includes 3-months free trial then £14.99 per month thereafter. Listen to Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) musical file formats for a High-Fidelity audio experience. Gain access to 360 Reality Audio available exclusively for Deezer HiFi users.
With High Fidelity sound, you gain access to uncompressed music files encoded in FLAC format, which means Lossless CD-quality music streaming up to 16-bit/1411kbps.
FLAC music was designed for high-quality sound equipment like Bang & Olufsen, BOSE and many more.
Student plan includes 3-months free trial then £4.99 per month thereafter. Only for students aged 18-25 years old enrolled at a College or University in an eligible country.
Deezer Student is eligible for 3 years maximum and you must confirm your student status by providing the required documents. See full Terms & Conditions.
Key features to consider:
56 million tracks available across all plans.
Play on-demand, enjoy unlimited skips, craft your own collection of music and podcasts.
Stream all your favourite songs without advert interruption.
Offline listening without an internet connection.
Enjoy high-quality audio for a better listening experience.
Sync music to a wide range of home devices and game consoles.
Experience the Flow feature, only available on Deezer. All your favourite music mixed with fresh recommendations. It gets to know what you like and plays music chosen for you.
eMusic is an online music store that operates by subscription. Users can download a fixed number of songs per month limited to the selected plan.
The music catalogue focuses mainly on independent labels and is proud of their Indie roots instead of mainstream music.
Founded in 1998 by TriPlay, eMusic is part of an open cloud-based ecosystem that works with all devices, operating systems, screen resolutions, file formats and networks.
Basic Plan costs £10.00 on the monthly plan or works out at £8.99 on the annual plan. You will receive £10 eMusic credit per month which will get you over 20 tracks.
Plus Plan costs £16.99 on the monthly plan or works out at £14.99 on the annual plan. You will receive £20 eMusic credit per month which will get you over 40 tracks.
Premium Plan costs £23.99 on the monthly plan or works out at £19.99 on the annual plan. You will receive £30 eMusic credit per month which will get you over 60 tracks.
Key features to consider:
New subscribers will get an extra £50 eMusic credit bonus.
Booster Packs are available to subscribers, which expire in 90-days.
High-quality variable bitrate (VBR) streaming pre-set of around 192kbps.
eMusic has partnered with 7digital who offer the largest catalogue of HD music.
eMusic for artists is a way for independent artists to maximize earnings by redefining music distribution through blockchain smart contract technology.
The Blockchain eliminates all third-party streaming services taking a cut of your money. The extra value is shared between you and the music services that promote your music.
This new decentralized ecosystem facilitates all transactions via Ethereum-based ERC-20 token (EMU). eMusic aims to be the first major music platform to convert fully to Blockchain. Read the whitepaper for more information.
Google Play Music
Google Play Music Services was launched in 2011 but there is uncertainty as to how much longer this service will be available. As Google Play Music is still available for free, we have included it in this guide.
For the record, Google has stated they are planning to shut down Google Play Music and replace it with YouTube Music and YouTube Premium.
Since May 2020 users are able to move their libraries, personal preferences and playlists to YouTube Music.
Key features to consider:
Set up a Google account to gain access to more than 40 million songs and unlimited radio.
Download Google’s simple Music Manager application for adding the music files on your computer to your Google Play account.
You can also upload your personal music files with the Google Chrome Extension.
Add up to 100,000 songs from your collection to Google Play for free.
Offers all users storage of up to 50,000 of their own music file formats for free.
Add your own music collection from iTunes, Groove Music (Windows Media Player) or Folders.
Files that are not in MP3 format will be converted to MP3 and can be up to 300MB per song in size after the conversion is complete.
Songs purchased through the Google Play Store will not count against your 50k song upload limit.
Listen to songs through the Google Web Player or the Google Mobile App for offline playback.
The Google Play Shop has millions of songs, including hundreds of free ad-supported tracks. Up to 6 songs can be skipped when listening to curated radio.
Google matches the files to tracks in the catalogue which can be streamed up to 320kbps sound quality.
Google Play Music subscription is in the process of moving to YouTube Music.
Napster has been offering music services for over 20 years. They first established in 1999 but soon ran into some legal difficulties over copyright infringement in 2000 (unauthorised MP3 file sharing).
They ceased operations and was eventually acquired by Roxio in 2002 trading as an online music store until acquired by Rhapsody in 2011, who transformed Napster into the streaming service we know today.
Napster Personal offers 30 days free trial then £10 per month afterwards.
Gain access to over 50 million of tracks, albums and created playlists.
Stream a variety of unlimited artists and genre radio themes.
Listen across all devices including PC and Mac, in your car or through a home entertainment system.
Ad-free online and offline playback.
Audio streaming quality is up to 320kbps.
Napster Business allows you to customise the audio experience that best fits your brand and customers base. Add on-demand capabilities to an existing radio audio app or create your own streaming audio service.
Pro PaaS Plan: choose from a range of Napster product solutions intended for brands that want to offer audio services.
Power PaaS Plan: build your audio offering from scratch with the most flexibility. Napster will partner with you to customise a solution that best suits your needs.
If you are looking for a completely custom audio service this plan is ideal.
*Prices are not disclosed as it is a bespoke service based on business size and requirements.
Primephonic is a streaming service designed for classical music enthusiasts. They launched the first version in 2017 on a small scale.
In 2018 a new version of the streaming service became available in the UK, USA and Holland.
As of 2019, Primephonic became available in 154 countries. The user interface has a clean design and easy navigation points of interest.
Users have the option to listen to their catalogue via the online web player or directly through iOS and Android devices.
Primephonic has made an effort to deliver quality streaming audio as well as additions to their music library over time. They are fairly young players in the industry compared to other service providers we have already mentioned.
Both plans offer a 14-day free trial sign up (no credit card required) then a monthly or yearly fee will be charged thereafter.
Premium Plan: Streaming quality in 16-bit/320kbps playback for £9.99 per month or £99.99 per year.
Platinum Plan: Streaming quality in Lossless CD 24-bit FLAC Hi-Res Audio playback for £14.99 per month or £149.99 per year.
Features across all plans:
Over 3.5 million classical tracks.
Smart search, built for classical.
New releases every week.
Exclusive podcasts with top artists.
Daily recommendations by experts.
Available in home, car & offline.
Qobuz (pronounced ‘co-buzz’) is a French streaming and downloading service founded in 2007 for European markets. In 2019 they decided to expended and launch their services in the US.
The streaming quality levels offered on all plans is the best on the market giving you Hi-Res FLAC 24-Bit up to 192KHz. Some of the higher tier plans include the option to purchase albums or tracks for download at a discounted rate from their online store.
You will gain access to a 50 million-plus track catalogue in lossless CD and Hi-Res audio streaming or download quality, including albums, new releases and specialised genres.
Qobuz is available on Microsoft Windows, macOS, iOS and Android devices with support for all main wireless listening protocols. Listen via the web player available when you login via the (my account tab) on the website.
In addition, Qobuz can also be used on many types of hi-fi equipment brands. If requested Qobuz can provide advice on your Hi-Fi equipment purchase in relation to compatibility and sound quality.
Studio Premier Plan comes with a 30-day free trial then it will cost £14.99 per month or £149.99 per year, including more than 240,000 albums available in Hi-Res audio format. The download store is not available with this plan.
Studio Premier Family Plan comes with a 30-day free trial then it will cost £24.99 per month or £269.99 per year.
Connect up to 6 members of your household with studio-quality streaming. The download store is not available with this plan.
Sublime+ Plan comes with no free trial or monthly subscription available. This Sublime+ Plan is charged annually at a cost of £249.99.
You get access to more than 200,000 albums available from the download store for streaming and purchase in Hi-Res audio format.
Sublime+ Family Plan comes with no free trial or monthly subscription available. This Sublime+ Family Plan is charged annually at a cost of £499.99.
You can connect up to 6 members of your household to more than 200,000 albums available from the download store for streaming and purchase in Hi-Res audio format.
Key features to consider:
Three levels of audio quality are available for streaming and downloads across all plans:
1) MP3 standard quality 16-bit/320kbps
2) Lossless CD high-quality FLAC 16-bit/44.1KHz
3) Studio Hi-Res FLAC 24-bit up to 192KHz
Listen in offline mode when you don’t have an internet connection.
Exclusive editorial content includes interactive articles, playlists created by experts and exclusive content.
Thousands of digital booklets to choose from.
Hi-Res audio purchases at reduced prices when you sign up for the Sublime+ plan.
Integration with the biggest Hi-Fi equipment brands.
Soundcloud is a European online platform launched in 2008 from Germany. The platform was designed for musicians to showcase their talents for sharing and discussion.
Over a short period of time, SoundCloud soon became a major publishing and music distribution tool for budding artists.
SoundCloud has influenced the music industry through the success of many artists who have emerged from the music-sharing service over the years.
The service platform offers both free and paid subscription plans called Pro for music creators and the Go subscription plan for listeners who want to connect with independent artists.
Our guide is focused on the Go listener service plan offering and not the Pro music creator side of the platform.
SoundCloud Free comes with access to over 120 million ad-supported tracks. Listen via the desktop or mobile web browser player. No download feature is available to listen offline. You are able to access media files via unique URL’s as well as share your favourite songs on Twitter and Facebook posts.
SoundCloud Go comes with a 7-days free trial then £4.99 per month thereafter. Gain access to over 120 million ad-free tracks with preview teasers and offline download payback via desktop or mobile.
This plan does not include access to the licensed premium music catalogue or high-quality audio files.
SoundCloud Go+ comes with a 30-days free trial then £9.99 per month thereafter. Gain access to SoundCloud’s full music catalogue of over 150 million tracks including the licenced music from major labels.
Unlimited downloads for offline listening with no-ads or previews are included as well as high quality streaming audio format files.
SoundCloud Go+ for Students comes with a 30-days free trial then £4.99 per month thereafter. You get all of the Go+ features for 50% off.
Students must be a verified student registered as studying for a bachelor degree/post-graduate degree or equivalent higher education course at a state-accredited, post-secondary educational institution.
Applications will need to be approved by SoundCloud’s verification partner SheerID. If approved, you’re eligible for a student discount for an initial 12 subscription months (any trial months will be deducted) and maximum for 4 consecutive years. At the end of each 12 months, you have to re-verify your student status upon invitation.
Key features to consider:
You get streaming audio quality at Opus 16-bit/64kbps with the SoundCloud Go subscription.
Opus (the successor to .ogg file format) is a higher quality format than MP3 and a 64kbps Opus file generally sounds better than a 16-bit/128kbps MP3 file.
This depends on your network connection and what type of audio equipment being used.
The sound quality offered with SoundCloud Go+ streams up to 16-bit/256kbps AAC audio codec, which is the equivalent to an mp3 encoded in 16-bit/320kbps.
Spotify is a Swedish streaming services provider founded in 2006 and finally launching in 2008. They offer an ad-supported, free streaming service with limitations as well as a premium plan with more features and better audio streaming quality.
Gain access to over 50 million tracks, 1 million-plus podcast titles and over 4 billion curated playlists. Spotify is available on all operating systems including an online web player through their website.
As of the date of this article, these are the user options available if you decide to sign up with Spotify.
Spotify free plan comes with access to over 50 million ad-supported tracks and limited track skips through the mobile app only as there is no track shuffle mode available if you use the web-player.
You get limited SDK speaker connection as well as no offline listening function.
The sound quality offered with the Spotify free account ranges between the web player that streams up to 16bit/128kbps AAC audio codec.
Dependent on your network connection, desktop, mobile and tablet will stream automatically at a low of 16-bit/24kbps, normal at 16bit/96kbps or highest at 16bit/160kbps.
Spotify Premium Individual plan comes with a 3 months/90-days free trial then £9.99 per month thereafter. You can create your own playlists, upload your own tracks in MP3 or MP4 file format (MP4 files that have video streams are not supported).
Download your tracks to listen offline with no ad interruptions including unlimited skips on any device. Subscribers can add up to 3 devices and if more devices are added, Spotify automatically deletes authorised devices for you.
Spotify Premium Individual + Headspace: new or existing users can get Headspace free for 3 months/90-days free trial then £14.99 per month thereafter.
The Headspace app gives access to hundreds of voice-guided meditations on everything from better sleep, stronger relationships or to help you feel happier and healthier.
Pick an area of life you’d like to focus on and track your progress in the app.
Spotify Premium Family Plan comes with a 3 months/90-days free trial then £14.99 per month thereafter. Gain access to 6 premium or kids accounts for families living in the same household.
Create a family mix playlist which is regularly updated with music you all listen to.
Utilise the Spotify Kids app designed for children under the age of 12 years old as well as the capability to block explicit music.
Spotify Premium Student comes with a 3 months/90-days free trial then £4.99 per month thereafter. This offer is only available to students at an accredited higher education institution.
Spotify Premium Student + Headspace new or existing users can get Headspace free for 3 months/90-days free trial then £4.99 per month thereafter.
Students may find this useful on everything from sounder sleep to better focus. When your student subscription ends you will be charged £14.99 per month.
The sound quality offered with Spotify’s Premium Plans range between the web player that streams up to 16bit/256kbps AAC audio codec.
Depending on your network connection, desktop, mobile and tablet will stream automatically at a low of 16-bit/24kbps, normal at 16-bit/96kbps, high at 16bit/160kbps and premium at 16-bit/320kbps.
Key features to consider:
Lossless CD High-Quality FLAC 16-bit and Studio Hi-Res FLAC 24-Bit audio quality are not available with Spotify services.
Tracks and albums cannot be purchased through any of the available plans.
Connect Spotify with 3rd party running apps like Nike+ Run Club and Runkeeper. Set goals for each run, check your speed and Premium subscribers can select music to suit your stride.
Spotify creates a streaming Pace Station based on the artists and genres you have chosen.
Tidal was launched in 2014 from Norway but soon after they were acquired in 2015 by a variety of successful music artists. This streaming service has one of the best sound quality offerings out there including a video streaming feature.
Subscribers will gain access to more than 60 million tracks and 240k music videos with the ability to create your own playlists, try playlists put together by Tidal or their affiliated artists.
Download tracks for offline ad-free listening without an internet connection. Tidal has sole access to some of the biggest artists offering concert live streams from exclusive events, ticket access, meet-ups and behind the scenes contact. This service is called Tidal X (One Plus).
In addition, you can get a behind the scenes look before artists get on stage or access to an in-depth conversation about their talents.
My Mix is a feature that creates personal track recommendations based on your listening patterns for reduced search times, easily offering you something new.
You can choose between 6 different genres or Tidal will base mixes on the types of music you stream. The more music you listen to means My Mix will update a maximum of six mixes that you can save to your playlists.
Be the first to experience music and videos from your favourite Tidal artists.
Tidal Premium tier comes with a 30-days free trial then £9.99 per month thereafter. Streaming audio sound is delivered in Lossless CD High-Quality FLAC 16-bit/44.1KHz.
Tidal HiFi tier comes with a 30-days free trial then £19.99 per month thereafter. Streaming audio sound is delivered in Lossless CD High-Quality FLAC 16-bit/44.1KHz and Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) audio codec 24-bit/96kHz.
Tidal partnered with the British company to offer MQA, delivering master quality recordings, authenticated and unbroken versions with the highest possible resolution.
Tidal for Students tier will receive a 50% discount on both subscription tiers.
Tidal for Families tier is limited to 5 members with each family member getting a 50% discount on both subscription tiers.
Tidal for US Military tier will receive a 50% discount on both subscription tiers for owners of a military ID in the US.
Key features to consider:
Tidal has formed many partnerships with Mercedes Benz web portal app, Volkswagen Passat integration, Sonos the home audio manufacturer, Arsenal Football Club and various others.
Receive platform-exclusive content from the current artists who co-own the company as well as others.
A feature called Tidal Originals offers revealing interviews, documentaries and special events from your favourite artists.
In order to distinguish the difference between Lossless CD and MQA audio codec, listeners will need to have access to advanced audio equipment.
Master quality audio is currently only available through iOS, Android and the Tidal desktop app.
Purchase downloads through the Tidal Store as well as the ability to redeem vouchers and gift cards.
YouTube Music – Free
Rebranded in 2018, YouTube Music is owned by Google LLC a technology company that specialises in online services and products.
Google Play Music is in the process of being replaced by YouTube Music streaming service prompting current subscribers to transfer their music libraries, purchases and preferences to YouTube Music.
With this free offering, you can listen to ad-supported tracks with access to new music and artists. YouTube Music (free) is available through your personal Google account and you can listen via their mobile app or web-player.
Remember at some point in the future, all the features from Google Play Music will be available on YouTube Music (free).
YouTube Music Premium
The YouTube Music Premium subscription is focused solely on music with additional benefits that only paid users will receive. Watch music videos or play songs without ads including a background play feature that will play audio on your mobile device even when you close the app or with the phone screen locked.
Download music to your devices for up to 30-days for offline listening with the ability to also set up an offline mixtape and YouTube Music Premium can download content for you based on your previous listening history automatically. Turn on audio-only mode to listen to music without loading the video.
Gain access to your premium music library via the app even when you’re travelling to countries where YouTube Music isn’t available. Your music app preferences will travel with you for up to 6 months and your downloads will also remain available for 30-days without an internet connection.
Furthermore, the YouTube app supports the ability to shuffle all of your downloads via the shuttle feature which creates mixes of your own downloaded music content.
Share playlists from the mobile app or desktop with a created link, you can also share it on Facebook or Twitter social media networks. For any private videos, you will need to send an invite to friends or family first before they can view the video (restrictions apply for “made for kids” content).
YouTube Music Premium plan comes with a 30-days free trial and then £9.99 per month thereafter.
YouTube Music Premium Family plan comes with a 30-days free trial and then £14.99 per month thereafter. Add up to 5 family members aged 13 plus in the same household.
YouTube Music Premium Student plan comes with a 30-days free trial and then £4.99 per month thereafter. For eligible students only and annual verification is required.
YouTube Premium is the ultimate offer from Google for music and video streaming. All videos are ad-free, not just music-related ones like the sister service YouTube Music Premium.
Watch millions of ad-free videos across all devices and platforms where you can sign in with your Google account including smart tv’s and gaming consoles. Background play for mobile devices is also included.
You also get full access to YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Kids as part of the monthly subscription.
Gain exclusive access to films and series from some of YouTubes biggest professional creators as soon as they are released through a service called YouTube Originals.
Furthermore, you can download all available videos and songs with no storage or time limits. Configure your download settings and set your own download quality to suit your mobile device.
Downloaded videos renew automatically as long as you login at least once every 30-days.
YouTube Premium plan comes with a 30-days free trial and then £11.99 per month thereafter.
YouTube Premium Family plan comes with a 30-days free trial and then £17.99 per month thereafter. Add up to 5 family members aged 13 plus in the same household.
YouTube Premium Student plan comes with a 30-days free trial and then £6.99 per month thereafter. For eligible students only and annual verification is required.
Key features to consider:
Streaming quality is at a bitrate of 16-bit/128kbps AAC audio codec for non-premium users.
Premium subscribers will get a higher bitrate of 16-bit/256kbps AAC audio codec.
You can switch to a lower bitrate of 16-bit/48kbps HE-AAC audio codec if you are experiencing poor connectivity.
There is no support for CD Lossless high-quality audio file formats like FLAC.
You can upload and listen to your own MP3 music files.
When you create playlists on premium, they are also duplicated on your general YouTube account.
We hope you have found this music guide helpful and a useful resource for choosing the right streaming service. If you are interested in having a look at some of our Hi-Res audio headphones click here.
We would love to read your comments and suggestions about your streaming service experience. If you know of a streaming service we have missed out or one you would like us to include please contact us so we can review it.
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