Spotify is the most popular music streaming service, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. If you’re looking to give them the heave-ho, here are the top five Spotify alternatives you might want to consider.
1. Google Play Music
Google Play Music is a lot like Spotify. It leverages Google’s massive size to provide one of the largest repositories of recorded music online. And with the acquisition of online playlist collector Songza, Google Play Music now includes a wide variety of excellently-constructed mood- and activity-based playlists (“Jazz for Reading” or “Scandinavian Stargazing,” for example) that you can use without paying a dime. It will even suggest specific playlists based on your location, like home, work and the gym. Paying customers can watch music videos without ads through YouTube, listen to any of the service’s forty million tracks, and build their own playlists. And finally, there’s a unique “I’m feeling lucky” button that plays a random track from the Google Play Music library based on what you’ve been listening to recently. Subscriptions start at $9.99 per month for individuals or $14.99 per month for up to six people.
2. Apple Music
With a massive library and an attractive user interface, Apple Music makes a great alternative to Spotify. If you have an iPhone, it’s quite possibly a better choice than Spotify, since you can play music via Siri on your phone through voice commands. Apart from the 30 million or so songs, users can also watch music videos and listen to live radio stations run by real DJs. When you first sign up for the service, it will try to build a music profile and suggest radio stations and playlists, which are about as good as Spotify’s (read: hit or miss). The main downside is that iTunes on the desktop is a hulking pile of trash, and Apple Music is only available through that application. There’s no free tier, but new users can get a three-month trial before shelling out $9.99 per month for a subscription.
3. Pandora Radio
As you might know, Pandora is a bit different than other streaming services. It’s more like a custom radio station than a jukebox. Users create “stations” based on the stylistic similarities between songs and artists, and then Pandora’s algorithm plays music that matches those stats. If you use Spotify specifically to put music on in the background while you do something else, Pandora is an excellent substitute. The infinitely-long, custom radio stations are leagues better than anything the competition offers, with a remarkable recommendation engine that excels in digging up my next favorite band. The $9.99 per month subscription fee, which removes all ads, might seem like a lot to pay for a service that doesn’t do play-on-demand. However, Pandora is the gold-standard for online radio, and it’s perfect for people who aren’t super picky about what they want to hear right now.
Deezer is a nearly identical clone of Spotify. Like other services on this list, it includes a huge library, on-demand radio and more. When you first sign up for the service you’ll build a profile of your listening habits by selecting your favorite genres and artists. Then it will suggest playlists based on those choices. It doesn’t do an excellent job at picking up on your tastes, but it will still build a personal playlist (called your “flow”) with the music it thinks you’ll like. If you dislike the idea of signing up for Apple or Google’s services, then Deezer is the best Spotify-style client you can get.
Jay-Z’s Tidal bills itself as a “hi-fi” streaming service. It’s the only streaming service to offer losslessly compressed audio, appealing to audiophiles that want the flexibility of an online streaming service without sacrificing audio quality. The subscription price for lossless quality is substantially higher than other services, running up to $19.99 per month. The service does try to compensate with exclusive early releases of popular music, but so far customers have remained cool, and the service hasn’t seen runaway success.
If you want an all-purpose Spotify alternative and you have an iPhone, Apple Music is an awesome choice. Other users might strongly consider Google Play Music’s offerings.