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Popular Music Streaming Services 2020: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Tidal and YouTube

May 20, 2020 / Swati Lunge
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  • User-friendly apps that are updated frequently and have enough features without being overwhelming, Free version is impressively robust.

  • Streaming music is cheap or even free in the case of Pandora and Spotify and outpaces any physical format when it comes to ease and convenience.

  • Allows you to follow artists and to be alerted when they release new music or announce an upcoming show. It's easy to build your own playlists.


When you're stuck at home, music can provide a sense of order amid the coronavirus chaos. Streaming music is cheap or even free (in the case of Pandora and Spotify) and outpaces any physical format when it comes to ease and convenience. Sure, vinyl may be making a resurgence among audiophiles, but if you're concerned about sound quality, then streaming still has a lot to offer. In some cases, subscription services can sound indistinguishable from, or even better than, a CD. We've checked out the leading on-demand music streaming apps and options services such as Spotify, Pandora Premium, Apple Music and Tidal as well as Amazon Music Unlimited and YouTube Music to see how each platform stacks up for your subscription buck.


While most boast music catalogs of more than 50 million songs, each has its own unique pros and cons. We've also left out services that only play music in a radio format and don't offer a la carte listening. It's a close race between Spotify Premium and Apple Music but Spotify wins thanks to a fun, easy-to-use interface, an extensive catalog and the best device compatibility. Spotify also offers our favorite free tier. Without paying a dime you can still stream over Spotify Connect to numerous devices and you don't even need to provide a credit card. Apple Music is a close second and it's the only one of our top three with a digital locker to store your own library of songs (YouTube Music, below, is the other music locker option). If you own an Apple HomePod, you'll need this subscription service to summon music with your voice.



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“Apple Music has grown to become one of the most popular streaming services. It offers plenty of features and a wealth of discount options for families and students .”

~ Apple


In third place is Tidal, which offers a wide selection of music beyond its most eye-catching urban names. Its higher-priced options are especially suited to people seeking the best audio quality. Currently it's a great deal too, offering four months of music for $4. So here's what we think of the the top six music-streaming services. It's worth noting that all of these services will work on the major platforms -- Android, iOS, PC and Mac. Actual device compatibility varies widely, particularly on smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

“Spotify is the pioneer in the music-streaming space, and it's arguably the best known. It offers a number of curated music discovery services, including its Discover Weekly playlist, and is constantly implementing new ones, such as Stations.“


Spotify is the pioneer in the music-streaming space, and it's arguably the best known. It offers a number of curated music discovery services, including its Discover Weekly playlist, and is constantly implementing new ones, such as Stations. The service's (now optional) Facebook integration makes sharing music on Spotify easier than competitors. Spotify allows you to send a track or album, collaborate on playlists with friends or peek at what your Facebook friends are listening to. Also newly announced is Group Session, which enables more than one user to add to playlists on the fly -- great for parties; anyone remember those? Spotify Connect simplifies connecting to wireless speakers and AV receivers, and it works on both the Premium and the free tier.


Over time, Apple Music has grown to become one of the most popular streaming services. It offers plenty of features and a wealth of discount options for families and students. There's also ton of curated playlists, many hand-crafted by musicians and tastemakers, but it still lacks the robust sharing options built into Spotify. It combines your iTunes library with music you don't own, rounding out what you can play. A combination of human music experts and algorithms help find music you'll want to hear based on what you play. You can control what you hear or search for new music using Siri on iOS devices or Apple HomePod. Has a music locker via iTunes Match ($25, £22 or AU$35 a year). It's currently the only choice for Apple HomePod owners who want to request songs by voice. As you'd expect, the Android app and experience isn't as smooth as the iOS one.


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