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Best Music Streaming Services

With so many ways to stream music online it can be hard knowing which service to use. Compare the best music streaming apps in the UK here.

Last updated: 21 October 2020

Best Music Streaming Services
Advances in streaming have shaped and changed the entire music industry over the past 10 years or so. It’s easier than ever to find new music or listen to old favourites, and record labels use your listening data to track the level of support an artist is getting across the world.  
 
You might find that your current music streaming service, if you have one, isn’t very good at suggesting new music to you that you like, or that it doesn’t have the niche songs that you’re looking for. You might also think it’s too expensive for what you’re getting. 
 
If any of this is true for you, why not shop around for a new streaming service that better suits your needs? We’ve compiled some helpful info on the most popular platforms around, so you can make an informed decision as to where you spend your money. 
 
If you’re finding that the music you stream is of lower quality than advertised, it might be down to your broadband speed. In that case, compare broadband deals now to see if you are missing out on a faster connection.

TIDAL

  • Cost: £9.99pm (standard) / £19.99pm (HiFi Tier)
  • Quality: 320kbps, CD-quality streaming, 24-bit/96Khz
  • File types: FLAC, AAC
  • Library size: 60+ million
  • Supporting platforms: iOS and Android apps, desktop app and web player.

TIDAL’s standard service at £9.99 a month gives you access to an impressive 60+ million track catalogue. Its available to stream in 320kbps to all subscribers, accessible via a friendly and intuitive user interface. Given that high quality sound is at the core of TIDAL’s MO, this should come as no surprise.

For those with slightly deeper pockets, the HiFi package (costing £20pm) allows you to stream millions of high-resolution audio tracks, which typically run at 24-bit/96kHz, but can go all the way up to 24-bit/192kHz. If money is less of an object and you’re looking for the best quality music streaming around, then this is absolutely where to go.

Spotify

  • Cost: Free / £9.99pm / £4.99 (student) / £14.99 (family)
  • Quality: 320kpbs
  • File types: MP3, M4P, MP4
  • Library size: 45+ million
  • Supporting platforms: iOS and Android apps, desktop app, web player, smart TV apps, connected speaker support, cars

Spotify remains the most ubiquitous music streaming service around. While the quality is much lower than TIDAL’s, it’s undeniably convenient for on-the-go music streaming.

The selling point of this service is its world-renowned new music discovery algorithim, which tracks your listening habits and, either daily or weekly, suggests new songs it thinks you’ll like. The more you listen, the more it learns.

There is a free version available (with adverts) but even the paid subscriptions are reasonably priced, so it’s certainly one to consider if you’re on a budget.

Apple Music

  • Cost: £9.99pm / £4.99pm (student) / £14.99pm (family) / £99pa (one-off-cost)
  • Quality: Information not available
  • File types: AAC
  • Library size: 45+ million
  • Supporting platforms: iOS, desktop app

Apple Music is aimed directly at current Apple users and can’t be used on any non-Apple hardware. But if that’s not a problem for you, it’s worth considering signing up since it’s reasonably priced and has a library size comparable to Spotify’s. Sadly, there is no additional high-quality streaming option available.

The Apple algorithm and typically smart interface make for an easy and enjoyable user experience. While Apple refuse to reveal the bitrate it uses for streaming, the tracks are generally clean and clear, and in many cases better than Spotify. So it might be time to switch over!

Primephonic

  • Cost: £8pm or £80pa (MP3) / £15pm or £150pa (hi-res audio)
  • Quality: 320kbps, 24-bit
  • File types: MP3 / FLAC
  • Library size: 3.5+ million
  • Supporting platforms: iOS and Android apps, web player

Primephonic serves a community of classical music lovers unable to find what they need from the other mainstream music services, which have a much broader popular music appeal.

 

While the library isn’t extensive, you can easily stream high-quality classical music if you’re prepared to pay for the Platinum Tier membership. You’ll struggle to find many contemporary classical artists – many of whom still live on streaming platforms like Bandcamp and Soundcloud – but if you want to find detailed recordings of your classical faves, then look no further.

Amazon Music Unlimited

  • Cost: £9.99pm / £15pm (family) / £14.99pm (Music HD)
  • Quality: Info not available
  • File types: Info not available
  • Library size: 50+ million
  • Supporting platforms: iOS and Android apps, desktop app, web player, connected speaker support, cars

Amazon’s answer to Spotify is available at a small discount (£8pm) to current Amazon Prime members. It might not be as extensive as its competitors, but still offers decent music at a competitive price.

Compatible with smartphones, tablets, computers, in-car systems and Amazon Echo and Sonos speakers, it’s ideal for on-the-go listening. The algorithmic recommendations offer users an enviable content curation service, and the slick interface makes for a fuss-free user experience.

Spotify has the edge in terms of streaming quality on its basic tier, but Amazon’s Music HD service features 50+ million tracks with a CD-quality bitate of 16bit/44.1kHz, with millions more available in 24bit and up to 192kHz. It’s certainly worth considering if you’re able to afford it.

Deezer

  • Cost: Free / £10pm / £15pm (family) / £20pm (CD-quality)
  • Quality: 128kbps / 320kbps / 16-bit
  • File types: MP3 / FLAC
  • Library size: 53 million
  • Supporting platforms: iOS and Android apps, desktop apps, Sonos, Yamaha MusicCast, Bang & Olufsen speakers, MOON by Simaudio network system

Although Deezer recently partnered with hi-res streaming partner MQA, there is still no hi-res streaming option available on the service. And since the top tier monthly package costs £20pm and only gives 16-bit CD quality, this puts Deezer at a disadvantage compared to its competitors.

Where Deezer has the edge, however, is with the 360 Reality Audio tracks. Available only on the HiFi tier and through a separate iOS/Android app, this service gives listeners an immersive, 360 listening experience.

Qobuz

  • Cost: £14.99pm or £149.99pa (standard) / £249.99pa (hi-res)
  • Quality: 16-bit/44.1kHz, up to 24-bit/192kHz
  • File types: FLAC
  • Library size: 50+ million
  • Supporting platforms: iOS and Android apps, desktop app, web player

A relatively unknown player in the music streaming game, Qobuz certainly offers one of the most advanced experiences in terms of streaming quality. When subscribed to the higher tier, which is admittedly a hefty £249.99pa, you get access to over 70,000 24-bit hi-res albums and can download certain tracks at a discounted price.

In terms of the catalogue, there are some major oversights in terms of contemporary and historically significant popular music, so it’s worth having a look at the free trial first to see if your tastes will be catered for. Also worth baring in mind is that TIDAL’s hi-res sound quality is arguably better than Qobuz both in terms of timing and dynamics.

YouTube Music

  • Cost: Free / £10pm / £15pm (family)
  • Quality: 256kbps
  • Files: AAC
  • Library size: Info not available
  • Platforms: iOS and Android apps, Sonos speakers, Google Assistant-powered home devices

Since its launch, YouTube Music has made big strides to improve the quality of it search function and user interface. Plus, being YouTube, it’s great at unearthing long-lost gems from its archive of music videos.

Truthfully, Spotify and Apple Music have the edge in terms of streaming quality and library size, but the free tier (which is supported by ads) is easy to use and can present you with some interesting finds you never knew you missed!

Michael Quinn

Author: Michael Quinn

Michael is a dedicated author helping usave to write guides, blogs and news for the last four years. When not writing articles, you can usually find him at wine tasting events or having a political debate on the night tube.

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