When it comes to the best music streaming apps, the conversation usually revolves around the battle between Spotify and Apple Music. But there are a lot of other apps out there.
Which music streaming app is best suited for your needs? Here are the best options.
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Best features: There’s a reason Spotify consistently comes out on top of its music app competitors: It makes 30 million tracks available to listen to or add to playlists for free. But where Spotify really shines is its ability to allow users to find new music. Its wildly successful Discover Weekly feature delivers users with a playlist specifically curated for them every Monday. And Spotify has a library of other pre-made playlists perfect for every life event imaginable, like a pregame, morning commute, or bad break-up.
Flaws: Some big musicians have criticized Spotify, alleging the streaming giant doesn’t pay artists enough for making their work available for free. As a result, some artists have pulled some or all of their music from the service. So, if you’re looking to listen to Taylor Swift’s entire discography or Beyoncé’s powerhouse “Lemonade” album, you’re out of luck.
Available on: iOS and Android.
Price: There’s a free version (with ads and a mobile app where your music is perpetually on shuffle); the premium version app costs $9.99 (or $12.99 if purchased on the App Store).
Best for: People who want to discover and access the most music without paying a penny.
Key features: Apple’s much-anticipated streaming service underwhelmed when it was released last summer. But the big changes coming this fall to the app, including a more easy-to-navigate design, could rise Apple Music’s stock in the streaming wars. Apple Music’s current version does have some great features, including playlists made by people instead of algorithms and a knack for attracting anti-streaming artists to the platform (Apple Music ad star Taylor Swift’s entire catalogue is only on Apple Music, and Gwen Stefani and Pharrell gave Apple Music exclusives on their latest releases before they put them on other streaming platforms.)
Flaws: Apple Music has a lot of frills (namely, the Connect feature) and its platform isn’t the easiest to navigate. Let’s see if the update this fall lives up to its promises.
Available on: iOS and Android
Price: $9.99 per month
Best for: Devotees of Apple or Taylor Swift.
Key features: Pandora, once a giant of the streaming world, has struggled in recent years and recently faced pressure to find a buyer. But Pandora does have its strengths: It’s super simple to use and it’s a good tool for discovering new music based on other artists or songs you like. And, to keep up with Apple and Spotify, Pandora has rolled out some new features that aren’t half bad. The chief example is Thumbprint Radio, a personalized radio station that plays songs based on what songs you’ve liked on Pandora in the past À la Spotify’s Discover Weekly.
Flaws: Pandora really is a just-the-basics service, and its wholly randomized stations don’t always make for the best listening experience. And it only has 1 million songs compared to Apple Music’s 43 million or Spotify’s 30 million.