The best alternatives to Spotify for listening to music

When this article was originally written in February 2022, the big controversy surrounding Spotify was artists leaving the audio service in protest of the company’s contract with podcaster Joe Rogan, and some subscribers decided to follow the example of the musicians. More recently, the issue irritating users is the continued lack of hi-fi and layoffs that have made music discovery even more difficult.

Although Spotify is probably the best-known music service, there are quite a few alternatives available to enjoy listening to music. If you’re someone who has decided to investigate what music services are out there, here’s a quick overview of some of the options. But for the sake of completeness, we’ll start with Spotify itself.

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Spotify has undergone a lot of changes lately, laying off around 1,500 people, focusing on its podcast service and succeeding (to some extent) in its 2019 complaint to the European Commission against Apple’s music app practices . Does this lead to a better product? It depends who you talk to.

Spotify’s free service offers a wide choice of music, which is quite often interrupted by advertisements. Although you can specify songs, albums or podcasts directly through the app, you have less choice about what to have in your listening queue. (For example, when I request a specific artist via Google Assistant or Alexa, I am always taken to the artist’s ‘radio’.)

Spotify Premium starts with the Individual ($10.99/month) account, which offers ad-free listening, the ability to download songs and organize your queue, and up to 15 hours of audiobook listening. You can also get the same features for two people with Premium Duo ($14.99/month) and for up to six people or children with Premium Family ($16.99/month), which adds the ability to block explicit music.

Budget plans: Premium Student ($5.99/month), for verified students, adds access to Hulu.

Free trial period: You get a free trial period of one month.

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Together with Apple Music and Google’s YouTube Music, Amazon Music is one of the best-known services outside of Spotify. It offers three different music levels; As you climb the ladder, you’ll gain access to more songs at a higher level of quality. You can also listen to podcasts.

Amazon music free gives you access to the service’s playlists, radio stations, and podcasts, but audio quality is limited to SD, there are ads, and you can’t select specific songs or albums.

Amazon Music Prime is free for members of the Prime shopping, video, etc. service (but not for family members – it’s one of the few features that isn’t shared). It’s also SD only, but it’s ad-free and lets you select specific songs.

Amazon music unlimited gives you ad-free access to songs in SD, HD, Ultra HD and spatial audio. The Individual Plan ($999/month) only lets you listen on one device at a time; The Family plan ($16.99/month) lets you use up to six accounts across devices.

Budget plans: The Single Device Plan ($5.99/month) lets you use the service on a specific Echo or Fire device, and the Student Plan ($5.99/month) gets you HD access and many of the features of Unlimited.

Free trial period: All plans offer a 30-day free trial.

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Apple Music is a good option, especially for those who already have buy-in into the Apple ecosystem. It touts its higher quality audio, including “immersive sound.” with dynamic head tracking” for those with AirPods. You can also download and stream music to your Apple Watch. Other features include a lyrics display so you can follow along, curated lists and live radio stations.

There is no free version; For podcasts you have to go to a separate app.

Apple Music individual ($10.99/month) is the standard plan; In addition to access to Apple’s music library and playlists, it can be used with a variety of devices and provides high-quality audio, including lossless audio and spatial audio with Dolby Atmos. You can request specific songs or albums by asking Siri; you can also download music and view lyrics. A Family plan ($16.99/month) offers the Individual features for up to six people.

Budget plans: If you’re a student, the student plan ($5.99/month) offers the same features as the individual plan. You can also include Apple Music in the Apple One bundle subscription.

Free Trials: One month free trial for all plans.

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When we first published this review, several people recommended including Bandcamp as well, and it’s easy to see why. Bandcamp calls itself an “online record store and music community” where independent musicians and podcasters are paid directly by their fans. According to Bandcamp, artists collect an average of 80 to 85 percent of each sale (except for Bandcamp Fridays, the first Friday of every month, when the company gives up its revenue share, which started in March 2020 to make up for the lack of revenue). live performances during the covid pandemic). There are no costs associated with the service itself; you listen to featured songs from artists and then buy the digital or physical albums of your favorites. There are also live ‘listening party’ events.

As mentioned, Bandcamp itself is free; you buy the music separately at varying prices set by the artists.

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Deezer is not as well known in the US as Apple Music or Spotify, but has similar catalogs and features. It offers an impressive variety of songs, playlists, podcasts and radio channels. You can use the web version or one of the apps for just about any device out there, including desktops, phones, and watches. It also provides song lyrics on the screen. Like the others, it offers different plans.

Free lets you listen to playlists instead of specific songs and adds ads.

Premium ($11.99/month or $107.99/year) removes the ads, lets you listen to specific songs, offers high-fidelity sound, and lets you download your music. You can link up to three devices to your account.

Duo ($15.99/month or $174.99/year) has all the features of the Premium plan for two individual accounts; you can connect up to five devices.

Family: Family ($19.99/month or $218.99/year) offers six individual Premium accounts and the ability to connect up to 13 different devices. Child profiles allow you to control what your child listens to.

Budget plans: You can get a student discount on the Premium plan for $5.99/month.

Free Trials: One month for all paid subscriptions.

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Pandora is one of the grandparents of music services and was one of the first to offer playlists developed based on listener preferences. Currently owned by SiriusXM, it was introduced in 2005 as a consumer music service and has undergone a number of changes since then. (For example, users of the free service were originally limited to 40 hours of streaming per month.) Today there are one free and two paid services; it includes both music and podcasts.

Interestingly enough: Pandora Free The service lets you play specific songs and albums, as long as you watch an ad first; you can also watch an ad for unlimited skips.

PandoraPlus ($4.99/month) removes the ads for unlimited skips and lets you listen offline, but you still have to watch an ad to select specific songs.

Pandora Premium ($9.99/month) gives you all the Plus features, removes all ads, and lets you create and share playlists.

Budget plans: The Family plan ($14.99/month) includes six accounts. Both Premium Student ($4.99/month) and Premium Military ($7.99/month) offer you the same features as the regular Premium account.

Free trial period: 30 days for Plus and 60 days for Premium.

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Tidal profiles itself as the music service for real music lovers, with an emphasis on innovation and high-quality audio. It offers a library of more than 100 million songs, more than 650,000 videos, interviews and documentaries about the artists, and three levels of audio quality: Max (up to 24-bit, 192 kHz), High (up to 16-bit, 44.1 kHz ) and Low (up to 320 kbps), depending on your subscription and your device; it specifically supports a number of device manufacturers. It doesn’t offer podcasts or a free subscription.

Hi-Fi ($10.99/month) offers HiFi audio quality, no ads, and offline listening.

Hi-Fi Plus ($19.99/month) adds high-resolution FLAC, along with Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio.

Budget plans: Both HiFi and HiFi Plus offer discounted subscriptions. They include a family plan for up to six users ($16.99 for HiFi / $29.99 for HiFi Plus); a student subscription ($4.99 for HiFi / $9.99 for HiFi Plus); a First Responder plan ($5.99 for HiFi / $11.99 for HiFi Plus) and a Military plan ($5.99 for HiFi / $11.99 for HiFi Plus).

Free trial period: A 30-day free trial.

Like Apple Music and Tidal, Qubuz does not have a free service. As with Tidal, the emphasis here is on quality music, with high-resolution audio; it collaborates with several equipment manufacturers, such as Bang & Olufsen, Sonos and Thiel. In addition to music, it offers album reviews and artist biographies. Qobuz offers two plans; each of these is available in Solo (one account), Duo (two accounts living at the same address) and Family (six accounts per household) versions.

Studio offers downloadable music and original editorial content, such as playlists and articles. Solo costs $10.83/month; Duo costs $14.99/month; Family costs $17.99/month.

Sublime lets you itemize albums and offers 60 percent off purchases. Solo costs $14.99/month; Duo costs $17.99/month or $179.88/year; Family also costs $17.99/month.

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A few years ago, Google chose to integrate its independent Google Play Music service into its YouTube video service, with the arrival of YouTube Music. As of April 2, it’s also scrapping the Google Podcasts app and merging it with YouTube Music.

The Free service includes the choice of individual songs and albums, along with advertisements. If you’re listening on a phone, the music will stop when your screen goes dark or you switch apps.

Music Premium ($10.99/month) removes the ads and the pauses and lets you download your music. There is also a $109.99 annual subscription. If you subscribe to YouTube Premium ($13.99/month), YouTube Music is included.

Budget plans: The Family Plan ($16.99/month) lets you add up to five other household members age 13 and older. The Student plan ($5.49/month) gives you Premium service with eligibility verification.

Free trial period: One month for the student subscription.

Update February 27, 2024, 8:20 AM: This was originally written on February 1, 2022. All entries have been updated and an entry for Spotify has been added.

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