On-demand music streaming services has all but replaced waking into a store and buying a physical copy of the music you want to listen to. Through the years, streaming music has become a legal, cost effective hobby. Music listeners can browse millions of songs in a music streaming service’s library, purchasing an entire album or downloading a favorite song. With the amount of companies offering music streaming services, five companies have emerged in setting superior industry standards for usability and features.
Spotify offers high fidelity streaming at a bitrate quality of 320 Kbps, reproducing audio sound with very little distortion and noise. It lists an enormous song library, with 20+ million songs. Spotify offers a free unlimited subscription, but the downside to it is the ads. However for $10 per month, users can eliminate the ads and avoid skip limits. Offered in 55 countries, Spotify is compatible with Android, BlackBerry, iOS, OS X, WinPhone, Windows, and Smart TV platforms. Radio service and offline listening are available. Some additional highlights are 3rd party add on apps, shuffle mode for streamed music, and exclusive playlists and albums.
Google Play Music launched May 2013. The service is free to upload 20,000 songs to any preferred device. For $10 a month, users can access its catalog of 20 million songs, listen to them offline and create playlists. Radio service is available with themed radio stations, and unlimited skips are offered with a paid subscription. Google Play is offered in 21 countries and is compatible with Android, iOS and Web platforms. Bitrate quality is 320 Kbps. Two features of Google Play are the option to buy music from the Google Play music store and a “Listen Now” and “I’m Feeling Lucky” options. Both are based on your listening history and personal song library.
Apple’s purpose in streaming music is to offer music streaming services as an additional perk for purchasing its iTunes app. iTunes music streaming services are specific to users who own Apple hardware products or use iTunes-supported platforms. Music streaming services are free if you do not mind the ads; if you do mind, there is a no ads option with the purchase of a one year iTunes Match subscription. The subscription costs $25. iTunes music library boasts 26 million songs, but selecting a medley of different songs to create a personal playlist is restrictive. For example, after a user selects an artist, song, or music genre, the user has to listen to a queue of similar songs. iTunes does not offer unlimited skips; the limit is six skips an hour, per station. With a bitrate of 256 Kbps, iTunes is supported by the Apple TV, iOS, OS X, and Windows platforms.
Sony’s music streaming service has gone through a few name changes. Formerly known Qriocity, and now as Music Unlimited, Sony offers users access to 22+ million songs. Sony does not offer a free subscription, but it does offer a 30 day free trial. Subscription options include $4.99 a month for unlimited access and no ads, $9.99 a month with no ads and unlimited skips, or $59.99 per year with no ads and unlimited skips. The quality of music is at 320 Kbps, and the service supports Mac, PC, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Web, TV platforms, and most Sony products. Offered in 19 countries, Music Unlimited offers radio service and offline listening.
After acquiring Napster in 2011, Rhapsody now offers a music catalogue of 32 million songs, which are available on 70+ devices. Two subscription plans are available: $9.99 premier and $14.99 premier plus. Song quality is 192 Kbps and radio service and offline listening are available; however, the service is only offered in the U.S and the UK. A standout feature for Rhapsody is that high bitrate MP3s are available to download. Supporting platforms are Android, iOS, Web, Windows, Xbox, WinPhone, and Blackberry.
Today, the internet is the place to go for all of your entertainment needs. Companies that offer streaming services and products change regularly, so there will always be a free trial or subscription, due to competition. To find the streaming service or product that best fits your tastes, log onto the internet and discover a world of entertainment at the tip of your fingers.