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15 of the Best Music Streaming Services Compared

Deezer

Deezer is a French company that launched back in 2007. It has since dramatically expanded its catalog and broadened where their streaming music service is available. It isn’t available in the U.S., but Deezer has offices in San Francisco & New York, and the company is expecting to have an early access period in the U.S. sometime in the near future before having a full U.S. launch.

Deezer Streaming Layout

Deezer gives users the option to subscribe to their Elite tier, which gives you access to lossless 1,411 kbps FLAC sound quality. It’s even a bit cheaper than other services with comparable audio quality options. Unfortunately, it’s only available to people with Sonos products, and can only be accessed while using Sonos equipment. This is expected to change in the future, but it’s uncertain how soon that will happen.

Deezer Summary

Price: Free with ad support, or €9.99/£9.99 for Premium+ (£4.99/month for desktop-only access); £14.99/month for Elite, available to Sonos customers only (includes access to lossless audio on your Sonos products)
Subscription deals: €4.99 a month for Bose customers with promo code; annual Elite subscription option for £220/year (£9.99/month) for Sonos customers
Free Trial Period: 30 days
Sound Quality: Premium+ is 320 kbps MP3; Elite is 1,411 kbps FLAC
No. of Tracks: 35 million+, with availability depending on country
No. of Simultaneous Streams: 1
Offline Play: Yes
No. of Devices: 3
Geographic Availability: Pretty much everywhere except the U.S.
Platform Availability: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Web, Desktop app
Additional Features: Lyric display, Chromecast support (iOS and Android apps only), live recordings, and multiple music discovery systems (both professional curation and computer-generated)
Coins: Lossless audio subscription option only available to customers using Sonos products, and only available when using those products (at least for now for both of those points); not currently available in the U.S., although it’s expected to launch soon—you can sign up with your e-mail for early access before the official U.S. launch on their website.

Rdio

Rdio Layout on Desktop, Tablet, and Mobile

Rdio is pretty standard; it’s very similar to Spotify. Rdio offers a free ad-supported radio stream with limited skips, or an Unlimited subscription that gives you access to on-demand streaming. One unique deal is their 50% off Unlimited for those who only want to use Rdio on desktop apps and browsers. That might be appealing to a small group of users. Their free trial period is comparatively short, and the free version of their service is limited to a 6-month trial outside the U.S.

Rdio Summary

Price: Free with ads, limited skips, and radio-only play; $9.99/month for Unlimited on-demand streaming
Subscription Deals: 50% off Rdio Unlimited for students (U.S. only); 50% off for web-only service (desktop apps and browser); $14.99/month for a two-account family plan, and +$5/month for each additional account—up to 5 total per family plan
Free Trial Period: 48 hours
Sound Quality: 3 options—64 kbps or 192kbps, and 320 kbps (only available to Unlimited subscribers); all in AAC format
No. of Tracks: 30 million+
No. of Simultaneous Streams: 1 per account
No. of Devices: Unlimited
Offline Play: Yes—on any number of devices and any number of songs
Geographic Availability: Widely available
Platform Availability: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Web, Desktop app for Mac & Windows
Additional Features: Chromecast support (PC, iOS, and Android apps only), works with Roku and Sonos
Cons: No free service for countries outside the US, aside from a 6 month trial period

Xbox Music Pass

Microsoft’s streaming solution is tied to its Xbox ecosystem. It’s comparable to most other services on the list, but I think there are better options. Xbox Music Pass‘s sound quality could be better, and while they allow you to use up to 4 devices with the service, you can only swap a device out once every 30 days. If you happen to have more than 4 devices that you want to stream on, that would be problematic. I expected them to have some sort of discount for Xbox Live subscribers, but that’s non-existent at the moment.

Xbox Music streaming layout for mobile, desktop, and tablet

The one thing it has going for it will appeal to Xbox owners, who will be able to stream music on their console even while gaming. It might also be nice if you can’t find another streaming service that’s compatible with whatever obscure Microsoft product you’re using. Strangely enough, one of the devices absent from their list of products that you can sync with your account is any desktop computer running anything earlier than Windows 8 (like, say, Windows 7). While this probably doesn’t mean you can’t use a browser to stream, it does seem like there’s no desktop app support for Windows 7. And it’s still not 100% clear to me about the browser thing.

Xbox Music Pass Summary

Price: $9.99/month
Subscription Deals: $99/year ($8.25/month)
Free Trial Period: 30 days
Audio Quality: 192 kbps WMA for streamed tracks
No. of Tracks: 18 million in the U.S., 30 million+ globally
No. of Simultaneous Streams: 1
No. of Devices: 4; you can change one device every 30 days
Offline Play: Yes
Geographic Availability: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States
Platform Availability: Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Windows 8 & RT
Additional Features: The Xbox integration
Cons: Even if you’re an Xbox Live subscriber, there isn’t a package deal; sound quality is comparatively limited

Slacker

Slacker Radio is a pretty good music streaming service that offers both a radio-esque service and an on-demand streaming option for subscribers. It’s comparable to Pandora. Slacker has a free tier that serves advertisements and limits you to 6 skips per hour. A step-up to $3.99/month gets you ad-free listening, unlimited skips, and allows you to listen to your stations offline—something that is very unique at this price tier. Another step up to $9.99 gets you full on-demand music streaming.

Slacker Radio mobile layout

Slacker’s library size is much larger than Pandora’s, and its audio quality is comparable—at least for radio-only users—sound quality available to on demand users could use improvement. They do make it super easy for you to try their service; you can just go to their website on a desktop PC and start listening for free without making an account. You’re also able to use their free tier on mobile, which is excellent. Overall, it has many different options for listeners with different needs, and does have the standard on-demand option at an expected price—something Pandora doesn’t include. It’s a viable all-in-one streaming solution.

Slacker Summary

Price: Free for radio-like service with 6 skips per hour and advertisements; $3.99/month for Plus, which gives unlimited skips, no ads, and allows offline stations; $9.99/month for Premium, which allows you to play songs on demand, create your own playlists, gives offline playlist and album play, and all the stuff Plus does.
Audio Quality: 128 Kbps
No. of Tracks: 13 million+
No. of simultaneous streams: 1
No. of Devices: Unclear, possibly only one
Offline Play: Yes, including radio station caching for subscribers
Geographic Availability: U.S. & Canada
Platform availability: iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Web
Additional Features: Playlists created by professional DJs; algorithm for Radio comparable to some of the best; mobile play available on free version; lyric display; works with Roku and Sonos; you can just go to their website without signing up and start listening; extensive library for a radio service
Cons: Not available in Europe; their library for an on-demand service could use expanding

Qobuz

Another French music streaming service that offers extremely high quality audio, Qobuz offers the highest quality audio of any streaming service in the world. Audiophiles who subscribe to their Hi-Fi tier can delight in their 1411 kbps FLAC 16 bit/44.1kHz sound quality. They have a Basic tier that lets you stream only on your computer, and a Premium tier which limits your audio quality to 320 kbps but has a price that’s comparable to other mainstream music streaming services.

Quobuz streaming app layout for android, iOS, tablet, and desktop

Qobuz also has over 4,000 albums available at 24bit/192kHz “Studio Master” HD Quality, and will be rolling out a service that gives access to an expanded catalog at this quality level in the near future. Granted, this is completely unnecessary to anyone other than recording studio personnel; FLAC 16 bit/44.1kHz is pretty much at the edge of what humans (including audiophiles) can distinguish. Recording equipment can go further, though, and so the 24bit/192kHz hyper-quality can help studio workers eliminate the possibility of errors. That’s pretty much the only reason anyone would need that; every other case will be a benefit-less waste of money for the paranoid.

Qobuz’s availability is currently limited to 10 countries in Europe, with its streaming service coming to the U.S., Canada, and more European countries sometime soon.

Qobuz Summary

Price: 4.99€/month for Basic (Desktop only), 9.99€/month for Premium (mobile/tablet access, offline mode), 14.99€/month for Hi-Fi Classical (lossless audio, but only classical tracks), 19.99€/month for Hi-Fi (lossless audio quality, full track library), T.B.A. for Hi-Fi Sublime (future service that will offer studio quality 24bit/192kHz audio—will require an annual subscription)
Subscription Deals: All subscription plans except for Basic allow you to subscribe for 12 months at the cost of only 10 months (e.g. 99.99€/year for Premium, 199.99€/year for Hi-Fi)
Free Trial Period: 15 days
Audio Quality: 320kbps for Basic & Premium, 1411 kbps (FLAC 16 bit/44.1kHz) for Hi-Fi and Hi-Fi classical, and the future Hi-Fi sublime will have 24bit/192kHz audio quality tracks
No. of Tracks: 24 million
No. of Simultaneous Streams: 1
No. of Devices: 3 mobile devices for plans above the Basic level
Offline Play: Yes, as much as you can fit
Geographic Availability: 10 European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom) with service coming to the U.S., Canada, Spain, Italy, and the Scandinavian countries in the near future (this was supposed to happen in late 2014, but still has yet to become a reality; queue side eye)
Platform availability: iOS, Android, Web, Desktop, Kindle
Additional Features: Pretty much the highest quality audio available anywhere, works with Sonos
Cons: Not available in the U.S yet, no Chromecast support

iTunes Radio

Apple has its own dedicated radio streaming service called iTunes Radio. Not to be confused with Beats Music, it doesn’t offer on demand streaming. It’s free with advertisements displayed, or you can subscribe for $24.99/year ($2.08/month) to remove ads. It’s a low cost ad-free subscription option, but it doesn’t give you anymore than 6 skips per hour. It’s unclear how big their library size is other than that it’s large; it could include the entire 27 million+ iTunes catalog, or only a portion of that, but it’s very likely that it has access to many more tracks than Pandora.

iTunes Radio on multiple devices

Subscribing to iTunes Radio offers integration with iTunes Match, which allows you to store all of your purchased tracks (doesn’t have to be from iTunes) in iCloud and access them from anywhere on up to 10 devices. It’s pretty similar to Google Play’s music locker.

One disappointment is that there is no web browser interface—you need to open iTunes to use it. This may change in the future; as we mentioned earlier, Apple is rumored to be overhauling Beats Music, iTunes, iTunes Match, and iTunes Radio into one unified streaming service. Who knows what changes that may bring!

iTunes Radio Summary

Price: Free with ads, or $24.99/year for ad-free listening with iTunes Match
Audio Quality: Likely up to 256kbps AAC on WiFi with lower bitrates over cellular connections—Apple hasn’t definitively said anything.
No. of Tracks: Unclear how many of the 27 million+ iTunes tracks iTunes Radio has access to, but it’s likely it’s well above 10 million if it doesn’t use the entire iTunes library
No. of Simultaneous Streams: 1
No. of Devices: Anything you can link up with your iTunes account
Offline Play: None
Geographic Availability: United States, Australia
Platform Availability: iOS, Windows & Mac desktop PCs, Apple TV (second generation or newer)
Additional Features: iTunes Match integration, which lets you store all of your purchased tracks in iCloud, including songs imported from CDs and those you’ve purchased from places other than iTunes.
Cons: No web browser interface—you need to open iTunes; only 6 skips per hour, even if you’re an iTunes Match subscriber; no on-demand streaming option (Beats Music is Apple’s on-demand streaming service).



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