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Best Alternatives to Spotify for Listening to Music

As of this writing, we’re still in the midst of the Spotify controversy, in which artists are abandoning the audio service to protest the company’s contract with podcaster Joe Rogan. Neil Young was the first to remove his music from the service, followed by Joni Mitchell and others. And some subscribers decide to follow the example of musicians.

Although some Spotify fans may disagree, there are plenty of alternatives available for good music listening. If you’re one of those who use Spotify but have decided to look elsewhere (or just interested in what music services are available), here’s a quick rundown of some of the more well-known possibilities.

Amazon Music

Along with Apple Music and Google’s YouTube Music, Amazon Music is one of the best-known services outside of Spotify. It offers three different levels of music; as you move up the ranks, you gain access to more songs at higher quality levels. You can also listen to podcasts (except with the free plan).

Amazon Free Music lets you access the service’s playlists and radio stations, but the audio quality is limited to SD and you can’t select specific songs or albums.

Amazon Music Prime is free for members of its shopping/video/etc service. Prime (but not for family members; it’s one of the few features that isn’t shared). It’s also SD only, but it’s ad-free and lets you choose from 2 million songs.

Amazon Music Unlimited gives you ad-free access to 75 million songs in SD, HD, Ultra HD and Spatial Audio. The individual plan ($7.99/month) lets you listen on one device at a time; the family plan ($14.99/month) lets you have up to six accounts used across multiple devices.

Budget plans: The Single Device Plan ($3.99/month) lets you use the service on just one specific Echo or Fire device, and the Student Plan ($99/month) gets you HD access and most features. from Unlimited.

Free try: 30 days for Unlimited and Single Device plans

Apple Music

Apple Music

Apple Music, which has some 90 million songs, is a good option, especially for those who have already subscribed to the Apple ecosystem. It touts its superior audio quality, including “immersive sound with dynamic head tracking” for those with AirPods. You can also download and stream music to your Apple Watch. Other features include a lyrics view, so you can follow along, organized lists, and live radio stations.

There is no free version; you’ll need to access a separate app for podcasts.

Apple Music Individual ($9.99/month) is the standard plan; Along with access to Apple’s music library and playlists, it can be used with a variety of devices and delivers high-quality sound, including lossless audio and spatial audio with Dolby Atmos. You can request specific songs or albums by asking Siri; you can also download music and see lyrics. A family plan ($14.99/month) offers the individual features for up to six people.

Budget plans: Apple Music Voice ($4.99/mo) is only available on Apple devices, doesn’t have upgraded audio, and doesn’t let you download songs for offline listening. If you’re in college, the Student plan ($4.99/month) offers the same features as the Individual plan. You can also include Apple Music in the Apple One plan.

Free Trials: 30 days for all plans

Deezer

Deezer

Deezer isn’t as well-known in the US as Apple Music or Spotify, but it does have similar catalogs and features. It offers an impressive variety of over 73 million songs, playlists, podcasts and radio channels. You can use its web version or any of the apps it has for almost any device, including desktops, phones, and watches. It also offers on-screen lyrics. Like the others, it offers several plans.

To free allows you to listen to playlists rather than specific songs and inserts advertisements.

Premium ($9.99) removes ads, lets you listen to specific tracks, offers better audio quality, and lets you download your music. You can connect up to three devices to your account. If you pay annually, you get a 25% discount to $89.91 for the year.

Hifi stereo ($14.99/month) has all the features of the Premium plan but adds high fidelity sound.

Budget plans: Family ($14.99/month) offers six individual Premium accounts and the ability to connect up to 13 different devices.

Free Trials: One month for all paid plans.

pandora

pandora

Pandora is one of the grandparents of music services and was one of the first to offer playlists developed according to a listener’s preferences. Currently owned by Sirius XM Holdings, it was introduced as a mainstream music service in 2005 and has gone through a variety of changes since (for example, users of the free service were initially limited to 40 hours of streaming per month). Nowadays, it offers a free service and two paid services; it includes both music and podcasts.

Interestingly, Pandora To free the service allows you to play specific songs and albums, as long as you view an ad first; you can also display an ad for unlimited jumps.

Pandora More ($4.99/month) removes ads and lets you listen offline, but you still have to display an ad to select specific tracks. The audio quality goes up to 192Kbps.

Pandora Premium ($9.99/month) gives you all Plus features, removes all ads, and lets you create and share playlists.

Budget plans: The family plan ($14.99/month) includes six accounts. Premium Student ($4.99/month) and Premium Military ($7.99/month) give you the same features as the standard Premium account.

Free try: 30 days for Plus, 60 days for Premium

Tide

Tide

Tidal markets itself as the music service for true music fans, with a focus on innovation and high-quality audio. It offers a library of over 80 million tracks, over 350,000 videos and three levels of audio quality: Normal (AAC quality, 160 Kbps), HiFi (lossless quality, 1411 Kbps) and Master (Hi-Res quality, 2304-9216 Kbps), depending on your plan and device; it specifically supports a number of device manufacturers. It does not offer podcasts.

the To free The plan offers sound quality up to 160 Kbps, some interruptions to promote the service itself (Tidal says there are no third-party ads), and playlists. You can request specific songs and albums, even on the free plan.

Hifi stereo ($9.99/month) offers HiFi audio quality, no ads and offline listening.

Hi-Fi More ($19.99/month) adds Master-quality sound with Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio. Tidal also says that it gives 10% of your subscription to the artists you listen to the most and “the artists you stream will be paid based on your streaming habits.”

Free try: 30 days for paid plans

Qobuz

Qobuz
Image: Qobux

Besides Apple Music, Qubuz is the only other service listed here that doesn’t have a free service. Like Tidal, the focus here is on quality music, with 24-bit FLAC audio up to 192kHz; it has partnered with various equipment manufacturers such as Bang & Olufsen, Sonos and Thiel. It has over 70 million tracks but does not offer podcasts. Qobuz offers two packages; each of them is available in Solo (one account), Duo (two accounts) and Family (six accounts per household) versions.

Premier Studio provides downloadable music and original editorial content, such as playlists and articles. Solo costs $12.99/month; The duo costs $17.99/month; Family costs $21.90/month.

Sublime Studio lets you specify albums and offers a 60% discount on purchases; it is only available as an annual subscription. Solo costs $179.99 (about $15/month); Duo costs $269.89 (about $22.49/month); Family costs $349.99 (about $29.17 per month).

Free try: One month (Studio Premier only)

youtube music

youtube music

Google chose, for reasons of its own, to subsume its independent Google Play Music service into its YouTube video service, offering YouTube Music. This can cause some confusion between your music and video lists. On the plus side, you can get individual songs and albums with the free service; according to a May 2020 blog entry, at the time YouTube Music had “over 50 million tracks, albums, and high-quality audio.” You access podcasts on a separate app.

the To free The service includes a selection of individual songs and albums, as well as advertisements. On desktop, occasional pauses until you click “Paused video. Continue watching?” notification (even if you’re not watching a video). will stop if your screen goes dark or you switch apps.

Premium Music ($9.99/month) eliminates ads and pauses and lets you download your music. There is also a $99.99 annual plan. If you subscribe to YouTube Premium ($11.99/month), YouTube Music is included.

Budget plans: The Family Plan ($14.99/month) lets you add up to five more family members. The student plan ($4.99/month) gives you Premium service with eligibility verification.

Free try: One month for paid plans