Let's Compare Online Music Services
A new on-demand music streaming service, Amazon Music Unlimited (AMU), debuted October 12, 2016. Will it save you money compared to Spotify, Apple Music, or Google Play Music? Is the library of songs any bigger or better? Let’s take a look at the leading on-demand music-streaming services and Amazon’s newcomer. Read on...
What is Amazon Music Unlimited?
We’ll start with the newcomer. Amazon Music Unlimited (AMU) shares one characteristic with other online streaming music services -- a free trial and several price points for subscribers. Your 30-day free trial begins when you subscribe. Thereafter, it costs $9.99/month, unless you are an Amazon Prime member; then it’s only $7.99.
If you have an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot device, your cost for AMU is just $3.99. You lose some flexibility (you can listen only on your Echo) but you gain Echo’s fantastic Alexa voice control. You can even subscribe to AMU by voice. Just say "Sign up for Amazon Music Unlimited" and your gadget will guide you through the process with voice prompts.
AMU can also be managed via your settings on Amazon’s Web site, or with the Amazon Music App for Android, iOS, Sonos, and Windows desktop, plus Amazon’s Fire tablets and set top boxes.
Amazon claims to have “tens of millions of songs” in its library, so virtually everyone should be able to find music that fits their taste. In addition to singles and albums, AMU plays playlists generated by users or algorithms, and tunes in to radio-like stations. AMU is ad-free, of course.
The premium versions of other streaming services are also ad-free. Let's take a look at the offerings, features and pricing options for Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play Music.
Comparing the Competition
Spotify Premium costs $10 per month; there’s a 30-day free trial for first-time Premium users. Spotify Premium for qualifying students is only $5 per month. Spotify apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, OS X, Windows Phone, Linux, Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.
Spotify has over 15 million tunes in its library. The Sweden-based company has been around since 2008 and has over 100 million users (subscribing and ad-supported). A vast ecosystem supports the Spotify service and its users: blogs, social media groups, and sites that provide lyrics, news of new releases, and fan forums are abundant.
Apple Music starts newcomers off with a generous three-month free trial. There is no ad-supported long-term free ride. There are three premium price tiers: $10/month per single user; $15 for a family; and $5 for a qualifiying student. Apps are available for OS X 10.9.5+, iOS 8.4+, Apple watchOS, Apple tvOS, Windows 7+, and Android 4.3+. The iOS version supports Siri voice control.
Launched on June 30, 2015, Apple music has about 17 million subscribers. Listeners can stream tunes on demand or listen to curated playlists. There is one “radio” station, Beats 1, and a blog platform called Connect that allows artists to share photos, posts, videos, and tracks with subscribers.
Google Play Music is both a streaming service and a cloud-based music locker for tunes that users have purchased elsewhere. Apps are available for Android and iOS, or the service can be managed via a Web browser.
If you have a substantial library of songs that you've collected on CD or MP3, you can upload it to Google Play and listen as much as you like at no charge. A free “standard” account lets a user store and listen to up to 50,000 songs. You can listen to your Google Play Music on a desktop/laptop via the Web, or on your mobile device with an Android, iPhone or iPad app. (It's also a clever way to create a free cloud backup of your music library.)
An “All Access” single-user account that gives you access to "millions of songs" costs $10/month, and a 6-user family account costs $15. A YouTube Red subscription is included with either All-Access plan, giving users access to ad-free streaming of all YouTube content. A 30-day free trial is available. Subscribers can stream on demand any song in the Google Play Music catalog for their geographic region. They can create custom playlists, and purchase individual tracks from a store in Google Play Music.
Slacker bills itself as "the most complete music service on Earth." There's a free Basic option that lets you listen to a variety of "online radio stations" that are curated by artist or genre. You can skip up to 6 songs per hour. The free version has ads, but there's also an ad-free Plus option that gives you unlimted skips and higher audio quality. Slacker Premium lets you choose specific songs, listen to entire albums, or jump to your favorite part of a song.
There is quite a variety of subscription models for streaming music, and these are only some of the most popular options. Which one is your favorite? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Oct 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Let's Compare Online Music Services (Posted: 25 Oct 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved