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Last updated: 26 March 2021
Since the end of the 2000s, music streaming services have begun to take over. More and more music lovers are relying on them to get their access to the latest hits, as well as old classics. Recent years have seen an explosion in the variety of platforms on offer, meaning those looking to use a music streaming service have a tough decision to make when deciding who to give their money to.
This guide will review the main streaming services available in the UK and offer some pointers as to what a customer can expect from each one.
With over 100 million users worldwide now paying for the premium service, Spotify is one of the biggest and most popular music platforms in the world. The platform offers a library with over 40 million songs and can be streamed to both iOS and Android apps, a desktop app and a web player, as well as to a car, a connecter speaker or to your smart TV app. Spotify also offers a free service used by over 117 million people, but these users have restricted access and have adverts accompanying their music. Spotify offers three different subscriptions, a £4.99 p/m student rate, a £9.99 p/m standard premium rate, and a £14.99 p/m family rate, allowing unlimited streaming across multiple users within the same household. Spotify music streams at 320kbps, which is not on par with the highest quality streaming platforms available. But for those with a limit of £10 a month, Spotify offers a highly affordable option.
- Student discount rate
- Good music discovery and personalised playlists features
- Higher quality streaming is available elsewhere
Amazon Music Unlimited
Online behemoth Amazon now offers its own music streaming platform at a reasonable rate of £9.99 p/m, dropping to £8 for prime subscribers. Amazon Music is compatible with smartphones, tablets, and PCs (using a web player), as well as Amazon technology such as Fire tablets or TVs. It can also be hooked up to some speakers and car systems. For those looking for an extremely high-quality music experience, Amazon has also recently launched Amazon Music HD at a rate of £14.99 per month, which claims to offer ‘CD-quality and hi-res’ music streaming. This may be an attractive option for music connoisseurs with a bit more cash to spare. Amazon also offers Prime Music, included with an Amazon Prime subscription which has a library of around 2 million songs.
- Discount for prime subscribers
- Ultra-high-quality streaming available
- Music discovery options are limited
YouTube was formerly the home of music streaming, the place where many listeners would head to hear the latest tracks before rival music platforms appeared. In response, YouTube has now launched its own premium music service at a rate of £10 p/m for a single subscriber and £15 p/m for a family. One of the unique selling points of YouTube music is the wide range of music videos it has on offer, as well as live recordings from your favourite artists. Its weakness lies in the limited device options you have for using it as it currently only streams to iOS and Android apps.
- Great access to music videos and live recording.
- Only streams to iOS and Android apps
Apple Music offers a highly accessible and affordable streaming service which is primarily aimed towards Apple users. It costs £10 p/m with an annual fee option of £99, but there is also a student discount available which brings the price down to £5 p/m and a family membership covering six users for £15 p/m. Apple Music streams to a desktop app and to iOS and is generally not recommended to non-apple users. Apple hasn’t released the exact quality of it’s streaming in terms of numbers, but the quality is similar to Spotify, with no high-quality option available as there is with Tidal or Amazon.
- Works well for apple users
Tidal may be the best option for those not looking to be beaten on quality. The standard rate is £9.99 p/m, which offers quality similar to Apple and Spotify. However, where Tidal offers its unique appeal is in its ‘HiFi’ tier, costing £19.99 p/m and offering ‘CD-quality’ streaming and ‘Master Tracks’ which offers quality of up to 24-bit/192kHz. These files are also encoded using MQA (Master Quality Authenticated), which means the quality should persist when streaming to other devices. Tidal streams to iOS, Android, Desktop and web browsers, offering high-quality services to each of its platforms. Pros
- Some Master tracks are hard to find
There is a wide variety of music streaming options out there, but the one most suitable will depend on whether you prioritize quality, the best price or the most accessible option. To access these music streaming services, you will of course need a good broadband connection. Be sure to check out our broadband comparison page to find the best broadband deals suited to your needs, allowing you to enjoy the music streaming service of your choice.