Spotify is often seen as the best music streaming service, but it’s facing some serious competition, so there’s never been a better to see what else is on offer. If you’re looking to give them the heave-ho, here are the top six Spotify alternatives you might want to consider.
1. YouTube Music
It’s one thing to be a “Spotify Alternative,” and it’s another altogether to be considered a real competitor to the verdant music-streaming platform. YouTube Music has been through some serious revamps recently, and it’s looking promising.
Available in seventeen countries at the time of writing, YouTube Music brings together music from the biggest record labels and uses Google’s AI learning to tailor your streaming just for you. It also taps into the untold millions of songs from the main YouTube site – covers, fan versions, uploads, you name it.
Free users will have to put up with ads, which is fair enough, but a little more frustrating is the fact that on the smartphone versions you can’t turn your screen off without the music cutting out. It’s early days, though, so here’s to hoping these little issues get ironed out.
You can grab the iOS and Android versions and check to see if the browser-based version is available in your country. The paid version costs $9.99 a month, gets rid of ads and lets you listen on your phone with the screen off. Pay just $2 more a month, and you get YouTube Premium which gives you access to YouTube’s original shows and movies – a solid upgrade.
2. Apple Music
With a massive library and an attractive user interface, Apple Music makes a great alternative to Spotify and recently took the #1 spot away from them.
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.
6. Google Play Music
It’s almost certain that Google Play Music will eventually make way for Google’s new baby, YouTube Music, but in the meantime you can still enjoy what this service has to offer, especially if you signed up for it before YouTube Music came along, as it’s a little cheaper and will let you transfer your data over to YouTube Music when the time comes.
Google Play Music includes a wide variety of music – from mainstream hits to 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.
Spotify’s still often considered the best, but was recently passed up by Apple Music and is facing real competition from YouTube Music. WIth that said, each of the above services has its strengths, so test them out and see which one’s for you.