Music streaming services. First, there was Pandora and music fans were pleased--a way to listen to new music and discover new artists that was legal and didn't require downloading. Then came Spotify with a larger library and the ability to create your own playlists and fans were ecstatic. But add in a some controversy and criticism over artist payment and music rights along with the addition of Tidal and now Apple Music and things have gotten downright confusing.
But don't worry, we've got your back. Below is a quick breakdown of each music streaming service and what they offer for you to compare and contrast.
The tech giant that change the digital music game back with its release of the iPod over a decade ago is finally jumping into the streaming game. Apple Music should grab most people's attention simply by the fact that it's offering unlimited streaming of almost every song for sale in iTunes, but the service also features a free Beats 1 radio station, broadcasting live, 24/7 around the world for users to tune into, as well as a space for artist to share directly with fans (Connect), and the ability to take direction from Siri voice commands. The fact that users will be automatically opted in with the new iPhone operating system update should be big draw for enrollment...and the first three month's free before the service's price of $9.99 a month kicks doesn't hurt either.
Like we said, Pandora was the service that started it all, but it's now a different component in the music streaming world. Compared to the other there are a few things that Pandora does that are different from any other music streaming services. Like Spotify, you only need to pay when you want ad-free music and want an unlimited amount of skips (it's $4.99 a month), but unlike the other services if you're looking for new music (based on your favorite artist, feedback as you listen and the company's "Music Genome Project"), Pandora's the best way to go.
Tidal is a unique platform that may grow to be something special in pop music over the next few years. Advertised as an artist-friendly streaming service (it's owned by Jay-Z), Tidal mixes exclusivity, direct releases, and music streaming for its subscribers. While it doesn't have nearly the same library size as Spotify or Apple Music, Tidal features music, videos, and direct content from artists that you can't anywhere else. You can try Tidal for free for 30 days, but after that it'll cost $9.99 a month.
Created in 2008, but not available stateside until 2011, Spotify is the BIG name in music streaming at the moment. The service works with major record labels and features a massive library of music for listeners to chose from. Like Pandora, Spotify allows users to listen to music for free but with ads mixed in. Signing up for premium membership, which is $0.99 for the first three months, allows you to listen without ads and skip to any song you want to on the mobile app. It Tidal are very similar the price for the subscription may possibly be one of the few things that separate the two. It also downloads music so you can listen on your phone even when the reception isn't that great and features a ton of curated playlists to help you find new music. But after the first three months, Spotify's price jumps to the $9.99, just like Tidal and Apple Music.