The best music streaming services for 2018

By Mike Atherton 18 Feb 2018
Music streaming 2018

Streaming services are now part and parcel of everyday life, with loads to choose from, all offering something different - from your favourite TV shows to vast music libraries.

There are currently over 20 well known music streaming services to choose from, with some of them offering over 40 million songs in their library. But quantity doesn’t always go hand in hand with quality, so let’s take a look at some of the best services out there, and see how they all compare.

Spotify

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Spotify celebrates its 10th birthday this year, making it one of the most established, and best known streaming services out there.Their apps are available on lots of different platforms, and they’re really easy to use.

 
 
 
 
Spotify

The audio quality is great too, offering up to 320kbps with their ‘Extreme’ option - but be careful when you’re not on Wi-Fi because this will eat through more of your data allowance.

They offer three main packages - Free, Premium, and Family.

Spotify Free

The free service is exactly what it sounds like, you get free access to the entire 30 million-plus songs in Spotify’s library. The cost of this service is essentially covered by advertisers, so you’ll just need to listen to an ad in between some of your songs. You can also create your own playlists, but you’ll hear the songs in a random order unless you upgrade to a premium account.

Spotify Premium

The Premium service costs £9.99 per month and removes all the ads. You also get access to a few more features like better audio quality, listen offline, and music on demand so you can play what you want, when you want.

Spotify Family

With the Family account, you get all the features of the Premium one, but you can add up to 6 accounts under a single £14.99 per month subscription. So if you have more than one family member with a Premium account, this could save you a fortune.

Spotify offers a free 7-day Premium trial, which automatically switches to the free account when the trial runs out, so you won’t be charged if you forget to cancel it.

Deezer

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It’s been a bit of a bumpy road for Deezer since it was launched in 2007, but following a recent string of partnership deals with brands like Bose, Sonos, Google, and Samsung, it’s safe to say they’re back on track.

 
 
 
 
Deezer

Deezer works in a very similar way to Spotify, and with over 43 million songs available in over 180 countries, there’s plenty to listen to. The subscription plans are almost identical to Spotify too - Free (with ads), Premium+, and Deezer Family.

The free plan gives you access to the full library of music, but with ads, and standard sound quality.

With the £9.99 Premium+ plan you get better sound quality, no ads, and access to music offline.

The Deezer Family plan gives you everything you get with the Premium+ plan, but you can add up to 6 profiles for £14.99 per month. The family plan also lets you add profiles for kids, so they can’t access any inappropriate content.

The quality on offer is virtually the same as Spotify too, with the ‘Enhanced’ setting giving you 320kbps, but you’ll only get this with the Premium+ subscription.

Tidal

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Tidal has quite a long and complicated history. Originally named WiMP and owned by a Norwegian media company called Aspiro, it was sold to Jay-Z in 2015, who purchased the company in partnership with a handful of other wealthy artists.

 
 
 
 
Tidal

The idea behind an artist owned streaming service was to restore value to the music, but many saw this simply as wealthy investors looking to make more money. Whatever the motivation, its estimated 3 million users don’t quite rival Spotify’s 140 million, but it certainly appears to be growing in popularity.

Tidal prides itself on not being just another music streaming service, as well as its 48 million songs, it also offers 175,000 videos, plus editorial content. In addition to this, Tidal offers Hi-Fi sound, which means you get uncompressed CD-quality audio thanks to their use of FLAC files (Free Lossless Audio Codec).

While Tidal does offer a 30-day free trial, there’s no advertiser-supported option like you get with Spotify. Their premium plan is £9.99 per month and comes with standard sound quality, which is comparable with offerings from both Spotify and Deezer, while you’ll need to pay £19.99 per month to get access to their lossless Hi-Fi audio.

Amazon Music

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Amazon offers two different options when it comes to music streaming. Prime Music which comes with your £79 annual Prime memberships, and Amazon Music Unlimited which starts at £3.99 per month.

 
 
 
 
Amazon

Amazon Music gives you access to two million songs and is completely ad-free. You get high-quality audio too, up to 256kbps. If you already have a Prime membership, you don’t need to pay any extra to get Amazon Music.

Amazon Music Unlimited comes with three different options - Echo Plan, Individual Plan, Family Plan.

Echo Plan

The Echo plan gives you access to 40 million songs on a single Echo or Echo Dot, so you just need to ask Alexa to play your music for you. Find out more about Amazon Echo here.

Individual Plan

This works in much the same way as Deezer or Spotify, it’s £9.99 per month (or £7.99 for Prime members) and you get access to the full library of 40 million songs. You can download music to listen offline and it’s totally ad-free.

Family Plan

With the Family Plan, you get all the benefits of the Individual plan but for up to six accounts. It costs £14.99 for non-Prime members, or prime members can pay a one-off £149 saving you £30 per year.

Amazon offers a free 30 day trial for their Individual and Family plans, but be aware that Amazon will start to charge you at the end of the trial if you don’t cancel it.

Apple Music

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Apple has come a long way since they promised to put a thousand songs in your pocket with the launch of the first iPod - that was almost twenty years ago, now you can get access to 45 million.

 
 
 
 
Apple

Apple offers a very generous 3 months free trial and after that, you’ll pay either £4.99, £9.99, or £14.99 per month depending on which plan you choose.

The Student and Individual plans are exactly the same, except for the cost. Students will get the Individual plan discounted from £9.99 to £4.99. With this plan, you get access to 45 million songs plus whatever’s in your iTunes library.

The Family plan works in the same way as other streaming services - for the monthly cost of £14.99, you can add up to six accounts.

Apple music is streamed at 256kbps, which is slightly lower than Spotify and Deezer which both peak at 320kbps. But Apple uses a different encoding format called AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), so there’s very little noticeable difference in output quality.

So on paper, many of these streaming services offer very similar packages, and in most cases, the price plans are exactly the same - so it really comes down to preference.

They all offer free trials, so if you can’t decide which one to go with, just sign up and give it a go - but remember, some of them don’t cancel automatically after the trial period is up and you might be charged.

Hopefully, that’s helped you understand a bit more about what music streaming services offer, but if you’d like help with anything else, you can contact one of our Team Knowhow experts here.

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