I’ve personally tried Spotify Premium, Pandora Premium and Amazon Music Unlimited, and I did research on all of the big streaming services before making my pick.
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Many people are now paying for a music streaming service. The ability to listen to brand-new albums alongside your old favorites without buying them individually is much more cost-effective for many.
This is not an exhaustive run-down of every music streaming service out there. This is my personal recommendation based on my own research and experience.
If you are already using a streaming service that works perfectly for you for one reason or another, that’s great! If not, you may find my perspective helpful.
Choosing a Music Streaming Service: My Experience
Due to their similarities on the surface, I’ve found that the only sure-fire way to really make a good choice of which streaming service you’d prefer to pay for is to test-drive them by using free trials until you find the one you like. All the services have free trials, so that’s no problem.
I found while going through this process myself that only these things mattered:
- Music Library Size
- Speed Of New Album Availability
- Ability to Download Songs For Offline Listening
- Ways to Find New Music You Might Like
- Family Plans
I started with Spotify Premium
Spotify Premium has the smallest library of the big streaming services at 30 million songs, compared to the others’ 40 million songs. This may not be an issue for you depending on what music you want to hear. Maybe Spotify will have everything you’re interested in, but they didn’t have all the music I already knew I wanted to hear.
In addition to this problem, Spotify Premium was also not completely on-the-ball with uploading new albums I was interested in. What I mean by this is that even when they had a new album available eventually, it was not promptly uploaded on its release day.
Music availability is really important if you listen to new music as I do, so I moved on.
Spotify Premium doesn’t really have any special features that differentiate it from the others, so there’s really nothing else to say here.
Next, I Tried Pandora Premium
Pandora Premium is new, and really good. Although it is the best (in my opinion) service for effortlessly finding new music, they currently have no family plan.
If you really want to, you can find new music on any of the streaming services, but Pandora Premium does a really good job of doing this automatically. Their picks for you are not updated as frequently as I’d like, but it’s still really good at doing this.
In the end, despite the superiority of Pandora’s auto-recommendations, the lack of a family plan killed it for me.
For just two people you’d be paying $9.99 a month, times 2. With the family plans from other streaming services available for $14.99 a month for 4 – 6 people, Pandora was no longer an option for me.
Google Play Music and Apple Music have family plans now, too, and I’ll try them if something changes in the future. I do love Google products and apps, so that would be the next one I’d try if they introduced some features that clearly surpassed Amazon’s offering. For now, I’m more than pleased with Amazon Music Unlimited.
My Pick: Amazon Music Unlimited
Amazon Music Unlimited:
- Is $14.99 a month for 4 people with their Family Plan.
- Had all the music I looked for, even more obscure stuff.
- Adds new albums very promptly (around midnight on release day), even when it’s a more obscure artist. They have never failed me in this area.
- Has lyrics that play in sync with your songs if you want. This might just be me, but I absolutely love this. I used to look up lyrics all the time, and reading them as the song plays is far superior and more fun than I would have expected.
- Allows you to upload your collection of songs (from Amazon or elsewhere) to Amazon so you can stream those, too.
- Lets me know what’s new so I can find new music. I’ve been listening to full albums that I wouldn’t normally listen to because of this feature, which lets me find new music I like.
- Has some “radio” stations by genre, popularity, artist etc. It’s not as filled-out as Pandora, but it works. I’m hoping they add to this.
Amazon has a variety of different options depending on whether you already have Amazon Prime, if you’re a student, or if you want to just get their service for your Amazon Echo devices.
Disclaimer: I do get a kickback from Amazon if you sign up using one of my links below. However, my choice of Amazon for streaming music is an honest and unbiased one that I made prior to being associated with the affiliate program.