The Top 4 Music Streaming Services Every Millennial Needs To Know
By: Eric Lewis
Music To My Ears
Apple Music vs. Spotify vs. Tidal vs. Google Play (YouTube Music)
Do you know what’s amazing about tech? It changes rapidly and without remorse. I remember 10 years ago, actually I was still carrying a CD book around. I mean, imagine carrying a full folder of CDs weighing roughly 5lbs everywhere you go with dozens of your favorite jams to ride to. Mixed playlists were all the rage at the time and a relatively unknown company by the name of Spotify was just released as an application available on certain products. The difference between it and iTunes was significant. With iTunes, you had to purchase your songs (or if you were like me, enjoy 30 seconds worth) and with Spotify, this was music you wanted on demand. Pandora had truly ushered in the era of streaming music, but Spotify grabbed the ball, ran with it and hadn’t looked back since.
My, how times have changed.
Currently there are a plethora of new streaming services, as it has now become the new normal. In fact, the market is so competitive, one has a tough decision to make in regards to choosing the best option that suits their needs. Fear not, my fellow streamers. I am here to help you decide which option to choose. I decided to break down the top 4. I was privileged enough to test drive all 4 for an extended period of time and, well, my choice may surprise you. Let’s start with the top dog, Spotify.
Price – Free (with ads), 9.99 Premium and 14.99 for family of 6.
With over 190 million customers, Spotify is the undisputed champion of the streaming wars by a long shot. It has maintained its spot-on top by offering a free service option, which accompanies the majority of its subscribers (there are 82 million paid). The best thing about Spotify is the fact it’s on virtually everything. Whether you’re listening to it on your phone, the web, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Echo, Google Home, Playstation, Samsung TV, cars and trucks, availability is not a problem. As a promotion until the end of the year, you can get a Google Home Mini with the purchase of the family plan. (Click here for that promo).
Price – 9.99 for single and 14.99 for family (No free service)
Apple Music has been gaining major traction since its launch in 2015. Formally Beats Music (which was a great service, by the way), Apple Music has been on a steady incline. It currently has 50 million paid subscribers and it’s available on all iOS devices as well as android phones. It doesn’t have the full availability as Spotify currently and it costs the same. You can subscribe to a 3-month trial. There is one major plus that none of the other aforementioned services have...Beats 1 Radio. There are prominent deejays and tastemakers in the music industry that make up Beats 1 with their own “shows”. Artists like Nicki Minaj, DJ Khaled, Frank Ocean and others also have their own show. I can say without a doubt, it is the best radio station on radio. The beauty of Beats 1 is there is no specific genre. It just plays what’s hot. At any given time, you may hear a slow jam, then a country hit and round it off with a hip-hop classic. It has been known to break artists way before terrestrial radio...and it’s free. No subscription is needed to enjoy Beats 1, however you would have to pay to stream and download music. There used to be exclusivity with certain artists releasing their albums on Apple Music first, but that is no longer the case...at least with this service.
Price – 9.99 for premium and 19.99 for HI-FI (student price is 50% off and military price is 40% off)
Tidal is a great alternative to the top 2 services. It has been open since 2014 and has steadily been gaining a following. The coolness in Tidal is the audio quality of the songs. Believe it or not, it makes a difference, especially to audiophiles. You get to hear the quality of the music just as the artist intended you to. There is also a military discount of 40% (none of the other services offer this option). Plus you also get ALL of Beyonce and Jay-Z's albums. The other streaming platforms don’t have their full library. To some, that is a great reason to keep it. Tidal has hundreds of thousands of videos as well as scripted content available to its subscribers.
Google Play (YouTube Music):
Price – 9.99 for Music Premium and 11.99 for YouTube Premium; 14.99 for family and 19.99 for YouTube Family
YouTube Music is relatively new to the streaming service, but it’s big brother Google Play Music has been around for a long time. Before we get any further, let me explain the prices as it can get a little confusing. There are two tiers: YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium. The Music Premium is the cheaper of the two at 9.99/month. YouTube Premium is 11.99/month but gives you access to ad free YouTube AND YouTube Music. Oh, and you get Google Play Music for free too. You’ll get more bang for your buck if you pay the extra 2 dollars a month. The cool thing about Google Play Music is you can upload your own songs for available playback on any device that has the app...up to 50,000 songs. YouTube Music has a really cool interface and offers playlists and song choices that are pretty much spot on with your mood. Eventually they will merge Google Play Music and YouTube Music together.
So, if you’re wondering why I never talked about the amount of songs available on each platform, that’s because it’s about the same with each service. You're looking at over 40 million songs on each, but there is one that I choose to use on a consistent basis, and it’s because of what I just mentioned a few seconds ago...
YouTube Music is my favorite because it uses the power of YouTube to get those hard to find songs. I tend to go to YT often and look for old school music that I can’t find on my second choice, Apple Music. The whole Down South Hustlas double album is on YouTube, and therefore on YouTube Music. That first Hot Boyz Album called Get It How U Live? Yep, it’s there. Frank Ocean’s fascinating mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra? Yep. The K&D Sessions by Kruder & Dorfmeister? (Great album to vibe and chill with, by the way) Found it. Plus you can download 50,000 songs on there that will be available on Google Play Music. Oh, and you get commercial free YouTube. I hate ads.
So that’s my pick for the best streaming app. I hope I gave you enough information to make a sound choice. Either way, you don’t need those stinking CDs anymore.
What’s your favorite and why? Sound off below or feel free to hit me up at @TheTmPLife on Twitter or IG.