How to choose a music streaming service
VANCOUVER -- In the last few years, streaming has overtaken the music market, vastly outpacing digital downloads, let alone the physical sales of CDs and records.
It’s now 80 per cent of the U.S. music market, and is climbing exponentially in Canada.
“In recent years, a lot of companies have entered the music streaming space,” says Thomas Germain with Consumer Reports. “So it can be hard for consumers to pick which one is the best for them.”
There’s no shortage of options. Most offer consumers a wide selection of music for around $10 a month for a single account - more for a family account. They can be used with smart speakers and any Bluetooth device, and Apple Music and Spotify lead the pack.
“Apple Music is nice if you have a lot of Apple products because it plays with the ecosystem really well,” Germain says. “Spotify has been investing in podcasts a lot over the past couple of years, and one of the nice features that they have now is you can listen to podcasts and other kinds of audio directly within the same app, which can be really convenient.”
If you’re an audiophile and the quality of the music is crucial for you, there are other options.
Tidal and Amazon Music HD cost more, but have higher quality audio. Tidal, which is owned by musician Jay-Z, has a high-resolution audio tier that costs $20 per month, while Amazon’s competing service is $15. But that higher quality can cost you more in the long run, as it uses more data.
There are also services tailored to specific genres of music, Germain says, and if you like classical music, you’re in luck.
“There are a couple of options for you as well, like Idagio and Primephonic, which are two services that are tailored for classical music and let you do things like sort by composer or performer,” he says.
“The good news is almost every option has a free trial period that you can sign up for before you commit to monthly payments.”
And there are also some that let you stream music if you don’t want to pay anything at all. YouTube Music, Spotify and Pandora all have free versions that incorporate advertisements into the platform and playlists.