How to Know Which Streaming Music Service is Right For You
Did you know that Apple still makes iPods? This surprised me too. It feels like a throwback product, like a Hipster listening to cassettes on a Walkman. But the truth is, it hasn’t been all that long since loading all your mp3 files on a device was THE way to listen to music. Oh, the by-gone era of the 00’s.
Today more people are using streaming services; music is delivered straight to their devices without downloading the tracks. And not just phones and computers, many cars and stereos now have internal apps to stream your jams through the car radio. Alexa can be connected to many smart speakers and play Amazon Music on it. Bose has seamless integration with Spotify, and Apple Music can be used through the AppleTV and the new HomePod. The marketing for the latter is all based around the use of the product with Apple’s streaming service. There isn’t even a mention of using all those mp3s you made from ripping your CD collection—though through Bluetooth you totally can.
But this leads to the obvious question: which of these services is the best?
There is already a lot of information out there that allows the customer to compare streaming services; PC and Consumer Reports being two of the best. But unless you are someone who really cares about ultra high-quality audio, like Tidal, the top streaming services seem to be almost interchangeable. As someone who has used three of the biggest (Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music), I wanted to give you a perspective of my first-hand experiences with these platforms.
Spotify vs. Amazon Music vs. Apple Music
First let’s talk about music libraries. I’m someone who likes pretty standard music. I am not spending my time looking for the alternative mix of some obscure artist. I like album versions of songs. With that in mind, I have never found something on one service that wasn’t on the other. Some platforms have exclusive albums, Apple especially, but I haven’t run into that too often.
They are exactly the same price per month: $9.99. However, if you are an Amazon Prime Member, you can get Amazon Music for only $7.99 per month.
This is where the differences are. As a Mac and iPhone user, Apple Music is seamless. It coordinated with my music library and allowed me to utilize both devices to create playlists. But trying to use the service on a non-Apple device can be tricky. If it can integrate with your device, (Apple Music can often only be used through Bluetooth from your phone on smart speakers) it has slower load times and for some reason, the sleekness of the interface seems to go away.
Amazon Music has a phone app and runs out of a browser window on computers. In the three month love affair I had with Alexa, I used it a lot because of the seamless integration with Alexa devices. Amazon Music is also the only service of these three that does not support podcasts. If that’s your thing, like it is ours, this might not be the platform for you.
As someone who has started creating a smart speaker system into their home, Spotify became the obvious choice. It has fantastic integration with both Sonos and Bose, and not just Bluetooth compatibility like Apple Music. Spotify uses the smart speaker system to stream through the device itself, while the user controls the selection through either the Spotify mobile or desktop app.
So what is the verdict?
Well for the average music listener, these streaming services are all very similar. The differences come from the way they integrate with your devices. Take stock of what you use to listen to music, and select from there. Or you can go all hipster and buy a hi-fi record player, happy listening!