Are all music streaming services the same? Here’s a closer look

There are about a dozen music streaming services out there that offer may of the same services at the same price. What are the differences between them? And should they have an effect on which one you pick?

Listening to all the albums of your favourite band, enjoying nostalgic playlists and getting to know new music – all this and more is offered by today’s online music streaming services.

But what differentiates the various offers?

You can’t really make a judgement on the basis of a service’s music catalogue, because they all have millions of titles available.

For example, Soundcloud boasts some 120 million pieces of music, partly because artists can upload their own music.

You can also find plenty of material on YouTube Music. “On YouTube, you can find artists that aren’t represented on the conventional streaming platforms,” says Marinus Martin from Netzwelt.de.

Almost all services are priced in a comparable range, costing around US$10 (RM40.90) a month. Deezer, Soundcloud, Spotify and YouTube Music also offer free versions of their services, but with advertising and no option for offline use.

Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Deezer, Google Play Music, Juke, Spotify, Tidal and YouTube Music also have family offers where usually up to five family members can all use the service. That typically costs around US$15 (RM61.35) a month.

Some providers also offer a hi-fi option at extra cost for audio purists. Of course, for that to be worthwhile, you need either an offline listening option or a very fast Internet connection.

German consumer goods tester Stiftung Warentest compared the sound quality of different streaming providers with that of CDs and found little difference between the two. What differences in quality there were should be barely audible for most users, the testers found.

Well-known songs will generally be found in all of the services, but when it comes to compositions that are not so familiar, there are gaps.

It can be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for, especially when to comes to classical music and if you’re searching for a particular recording. For classical music enthusiasts, special services such as Idagio or Alpha Play are therefore better suited.

In principle, all services offer at least a month-long free trial that gives you a chance to find out which one best suits your needs.

You can usually cancel a subscription at any time, so you can always try different services.

A last piece of advice: If you have an existing sound system with networked speakers, you should check that the streaming provider will work with it before you sign up. – dpa