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Streaming Music Smackdown: Comparing Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal

Streaming music apps: Taylor Swift

The introduction of streaming music services like Spotify kind of changed everything. Suddenly, you can listen to almost every artist or song that comes to mind for one low monthly membership price (amazing, but a little overwhelming!).

Of course, as more players enter the space and offer nearly identical platforms, it can be confusing figuring out which is right for you.

Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal all claim to have catalogues in the realm of 30 to 40 million songs, and you can find most mainstream music across all three, although the selection varies slightly, and each—especially Apple Music and Tidal—battles to land exclusives around major album releases. They also all offer playlists curated by different elements like genre or your musical taste, and radio stations that allow you to listen to music that is selected based on similarity to a single artist (Pandora-style).

The good news: All three offer free trial periods so you can listen, browse for the bands you love, and made a decision without ever spending a dime. In the meantime, here are a few need-to-know facts about each to get you started.


Streaming Music Apps: Spotify

Spotify

Need to know:  Spotify is still the leader in the streaming music space, and I find that it’s the most intuitive platform to navigate. In addition to allowing you to search and play any song or album, it’s easy to create, share, and find playlists, and there’s a huge selection of playlists by mood (“Good Vibes”) and genre (“Today’s Top Hits”). It also has a great “Discover Weekly” feature that curates a personal playlist for you based on your musical taste every Monday.

Spotify is the only one that also offers a free version, although if you opt to skimp, you lose many of the basic features that make the platform useful. For instance, you won’t be able to play specific songs (which is sort of the point of all of these!) and will be subjected to ads. The premium version also comes with better audio and the ability to listen to playlists offline. (You can take advantage of the free 30-day trial to see the difference).

Finally, the family plan: you can pay $15 per month and it will cover everyone in your household (up to six people), even though each will get their own log-in (so Spotify won’t start recommending you listen to emo songs only a teenager could love).

Price: $9.99/month, $14.99 family plan (up to six accounts), $4.99/month student rate

 

Streaming Music Apps: Apple Music

Apple Music

Need to know: Apple Music utilizes the iTunes Interface, and I find how it combines streaming music and your own library slightly confusing, although if you’re used to using iTunes (and already have a lot of music in it), it could be a positive thing to have everything in one place.

It often lands exclusive album releases, like Taylor Swift’s 1989, and the frequently updated “For You” section is good at learning your taste in music to recommend albums and create customized playlists. Bonus: While the other two offer 30-day trials, you can try Apple Music for three months for free, and it also offers a family plan that works just like Spotify’s.

Apple Music was also responsible for this painfully dorky Taylor Swift ad, but I’m not going to hold that against them…

Price: $9.99/month, $14.99 family plan (up to six accounts), $4.99/month student rate

 

Streaming Music Apps: Tidal

Tidal

Need to know: You’ve probably heard of Tidal because it had the exclusive streaming rights to Queen Bey’s “Lemonade” when it was released: Jay and Bey are two of the heavy hitters behind this “artist-owned coalition” that includes Rihanna, Madonna, Kanye West, Chris Martin, and more.

Because Tidal is all about giving artists more control over revenues from streaming music, Tidal has become a great place for discovering indie artists, since it allows unsigned musicians to upload their music directly. It also offers a “HiFi” version that streams at a higher sound quality than all of the other platforms (although most people say you won’t be able to tell the difference unless you’re a real audiophile). Finally, you’ll get a break in price, $8.49/month or $16.99/month, respectively, for paying for six months in advance.

Fun fact: Apple is reportedly in talks to buy Tidal, and that’s good news, according to Kanye. 

Price: $9.99/month for Premium, $19.99/month for HiFi

Have you tried any of these streaming services? What do you love or hate about them? Share with me in the comments!

Photo borrowed from here.

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