Spotify vs. iTunes vs. Rdio vs. Google Play vs. Tidal vs....
September 22, 2015 9:09 AM   Subscribe

I’m willing to spend $10 / month on ad-free streaming music. My casual searching has yielded few really thorough comparisons of the different services. Have you done an in-depth comparison, are you aware of tools for doing an in-depth comparison (say, by checking specific catalog entries via APIs), or can you connect me to an in-depth comparison of the different platforms, their content, and their pros and cons? Thanks!
posted by Going To Maine to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is a pretty good overview of the pros and cons of the major streaming services.
posted by neushoorn at 9:21 AM on September 22, 2015

Response by poster: To make this slightly more special snowflakey, here are things it would be nice to have:
  • Streaming on my Android phone (not critical)
  • Downloads to my Android phone (pretty important)
  • Streaming on my Mac laptop
  • A catalog that is deep in the particular areas that fit my tastes (or, ideally, infinitely deep).
  • The ability to make a mix and share it with a friend so that they can listen.

posted by Going To Maine at 9:23 AM on September 22, 2015

So it's hard to say which services have specific albums/artists that you like but Google Play Music, Rdio, Rhapsody & Spotify all have a free tier where you can search their libraries for what you're looking for.
posted by GuyZero at 9:31 AM on September 22, 2015

That said I subscribe to Google Play Music and it does everything else you want.
posted by GuyZero at 9:31 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've found that the libraries are mostly comparable (with the exception of Apple Music and Tidal, which both pay for exclusives) but that Spotify tends to have the most active community as far as collaborative playlists and such.
posted by Oktober at 9:42 AM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I also subscribe to Google Play Music. My only complaint is that it does not have indie releases (for example FKA Twigs EP 1) but I suppose there's YouTube or the artist's website for that.
posted by Nevin at 9:45 AM on September 22, 2015

Oh and unlike many services, Play Music also supports a locker for your own uploaded music if you have things you'd like to add that aren't already there.
posted by GuyZero at 9:48 AM on September 22, 2015

I don't know about the other apps but check that the offline option works depending on your data plan. I got Spotify for my kids to save on massive streaming data charges by forcing them to use Spotify in offline mode, saving favorite albums and playlists when they're on cellular. One of my kids loves Spotify because it has a lot of Vietnamese pop music too, more than iTunes at the time.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:48 PM on September 22, 2015

A catalog that is deep in the particular areas that fit my tastes (or, ideally, infinitely deep).

FWIW my Mountain Goats playlist* on Spotify has 343 tracks on it. It's got basically all the studio albums (but misses some of the EPs and the tape-only releases). Rdio has similar coverage of tMG. Spotify might be less good depending on what other music you like - I hear it's not so good for electronica, for example. But it meets all your other requirements.

*For anyone else: I mention this because Going to Maine is a Mountain Goats song...
posted by Pink Frost at 5:07 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've used Spotify for about three years now, and it meets all of your criteria. I tried Google Music (and I still buy MP3s through Google Play Music), but I prefer Spotify's catalog in general. Also, if your Android version is lower than 4.4, Google Music won't allow you to store offline music on the SD card, so your phone storage gets full pretty quickly.
posted by neushoorn at 12:57 AM on September 23, 2015

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