The Best Music Streaming Services Of 2022
Music streaming is the most convenient and popular way to listen to your favorite songs, and it no longer necessitates sacrificing sound quality. A growing number of providers include lossless and spatial Dolby Atmos audio, but how do you choose with so many different music services available?
If you're looking for a new music service, perhaps inspired by Joe Rogan vs. Neil Young, the two most important factors to consider are monthly cost and compatibility. Though prices have remained stable at around $10 per month, there have been some significant changes recently, including the addition of high-resolution music.
Most services have music catalogs of over 60 million songs, so that's not an issue, and they allow you to stream from your phone, computer, or speaker, though some are better than others at this.
So, which of the best music streaming services provide the best value for money in terms of price, sound quality, and library size? Continue reading for an in-depth look at each of the services, as well as a feature comparison and a full price breakdown in the chart at the bottom of the page.
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Spotify is a music streaming pioneer and arguably the most well-known service. It provides a variety of curated music discovery services, such as its Discover Weekly playlist, and is constantly introducing new ones, such as Stations. It has also increased its nonmusic content with a focus on podcasts, which has indirectly led to the departure of folk-rock icon Neil Young from the service.
When it comes to selecting a service, Spotify Premium and Apple Music are neck and neck, but Spotify remains the best music streaming service overall. This is due to a fun, user-friendly interface, a large catalog, and the best device compatibility. Spotify also has the best free tier: you can stream Spotify Connect without paying a dime or providing a credit card number.
- The free version is extremely powerful.
- Spotify Connect makes it easier to connect to wireless speakers and AV receivers.
- It's simple to create your own playlists and sync them for offline listening.
- Allows you to follow artists and receive notifications when they release new music or announce upcoming shows.
- Podcasts are now included.
- Advertisements in free services can be annoying.
- In the free tier, you cannot listen to specific songs, only a mix based on the requested music.
- There is no lossless option.
- Podcasts have begun to eclipse music in popularity.
Best for: People looking for a solid all-around service, especially those who enjoy creating, browsing, and sharing playlists for any situation.
In terms of subscribers, Apple Music trails Spotify, but it outperforms its rival in a few key areas. It has a user-friendly interface, over 90 million tracks, and is compatible with iOS and Android devices. Yes, it has free spatial audio albums, but these 1,000 tracks are dwarfed by the rest of the catalog.
Not surprisingly, if you've invested heavily in the Apple ecosystem, Apple Music is the best option. It is the default subscription service for summoning music with your voice if you own an Apple HomePod or Mini.
Apple Music is also an excellent companion for an iPod Touch, which is still in production after 20 years. There are also a plethora of curated playlists, many of which have been handcrafted by musicians and other artists.
Apple Music is the only one of our top three that includes a digital locker for storing your own music library; YouTube Music, listed below, is the other music locker option. You can upload your music in two ways: for free with a Music subscription but with DRM, or for $25 a year for iTunes Match, which allows you to download again even if you don't have a Music subscription.
- For $10 per month, you get spatial and high-resolution music.
- With a variety of music lockers, it combines your iTunes library with music you don't own.
- Based on what you play, human music experts and algorithms help find music you'll want to hear.
- You can use Siri on Apple HomePod or other Apple devices to control what you hear or search for new music.
- The Android app and experience aren't as enjoyable as the iOS version.
- It does not work with older iPods (except the iPod Touch).
Best for: Those who are completely immersed in the Apple universe, or who simply want excellent value for money.
Amazon Music Unlimited
Amazon Prime Music is "free" as part of a Prime membership, but users can upgrade to Music Unlimited for a fee. In addition to an expanded catalog, the step-up now includes the original HD service for $8 for Prime members and $10 for non-Prime members.
Music Unlimited now offers millions of lossless tracks as well as 1,000 "spatial" remixes that can be played on Dolby Atmos soundbars, Android or iOS devices, and the Amazon Echo Studio. The Music Unlimited interface is also more powerful than before in terms of usability, with playlists, genres, and podcasts all accessible from the main page.
- If you have Amazon Prime, you can get it for less than the top three.
- Lyrics appear automatically on the "now playing" screen.
- No additional charge for high-resolution and spatial audio from Sony 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos.
- Free music stations are available for the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Amazon Tap (includes ads)
- Biographies are not available for artist profiles.
- A music locker is no longer included in the service.
Best for: Amazon Prime members looking to save money on a good music catalog and higher-quality streams.
Tidal, which is now partly owned by Jack Dorsey's Block, has recently made some significant changes, including the addition of a free tier called, naturally, Tidal Free. The company also offers a $10 Tidal HiFi plan with lossless playback and a $20 Tidal HiFi Plus tier. Tidal HiFi Plus is the most expensive of the services, and while it does offer hi-res and Dolby Atmos mixes, there is now another reason for this.
Tidal's main selling point has always been that its higher subscription price translates into higher payouts to artists, particularly those who aren't at the top of the pop charts. Each month, the service will pay your top streamed artist a 10% cut of your subscription fee.
Even if you only listen to one song all month, the full $2 will be donated to them. Forget about fractions of a cent for a spin; with enough spins from enough people, your favorite band could make a lot of money.
- Its free tier offers payouts for favorite artists, while its top tier offers payouts for all artists.
- Every page features profiles and record reviews, as well as spotlights on emerging artists.
- There is a lot of video content, including concert livestreams.
- Dolby Atmos surround mixes are included in high-fidelity music streams.
- The mobile apps and web player are not as simple as some others.
- The catalog isn't as extensive as that of Spotify Premium.
- The majority of high-resolution music employs MQA, which necessitates the use of a specialized decoder.
Best for: Musical purists who value sound quality and discovering new, up-and-coming artists.
Since its inception, music streaming has grown tremendously and is now one of the best ways to listen to music. Many streaming services allow you to listen for free, which has helped to reduce the need for piracy while still ensuring that artists are compensated in some way.
It's also very accessible, with a plethora of options. If you want to listen to music while you're on the go, here are the best music streaming apps and music streaming services for Android! Because music streaming is such a difficult thing to get right, don't expect to see many changes to this list in the near future unless something truly amazing comes along.