With the once cherished CD now on the cusp of becoming an ancient relic of a previous generation and autonomous MP3 players giving way to music player integrated smartphones, music streaming services are skyrocketing in popularity. Currently outshining video streaming services, audio streaming has surged an impressive 79.5% year-to-year while sales of physical albums and downloads continue to drop every year. The music industry is being heavily impacted by this market change, with streaming now acting as its cornerstone.
“Audio streaming is changing the face of the music industry. From Jay-Z’s Tidal to the new BitTorent, streaming music might soon become the only way the next generation listens to their favorite artists,” says Karl Volkman, audio streaming expert and CTO of SRV Network, Inc. “However,” Volkman continues, “not all services are created equal.” Continue reading below for Volkman’s pros and cons of each service to help you find your best audio match.
1. Amazon Prime
While many other apps like to limit the amount of skips you can use within an hour, Amazon Prime comes with unlimited skips, replays and fast-forwarding. It’s also a plus if you’re already a Prime customer because while their catalogue might be more limited, “the app runs smoothly and with no ads.”
This app gets cool points for allowing you “access to music video content on the web” so you can sit back and enjoy the visuals that go with your favorite tunes. A major downside though is that navigation within the app and building playlists is described by Volkman as “tedious” and it doesn’t let you download tracks to your phone, meaning you have to say goodbye to your sweet, sacred data.
Apple now offers a monthly plan that your whole family can get in on. Up to six people can “share access to millions and millions of songs” while also offering discounted rates for students. Volkman notes that with this service you can “upload music and stream it with your device along with 24/7 radio,” placing a plethora of other songs at your fingertips. However, failing to upgrade to their monthly subscription results in lots of “unwanted and annoying ads.”
This might be the best option for music lovers who delight in discovering new artists they haven’t been exposed to before. With BitTorrent, you will “have access to millions of artists” that won’t just be your run-of-the-mill top 40 chart toppers. However, this is either a pro or a con depending on your personal taste.
5. Google Play
Having recently acquired beloved music app Songza, Google Play had a lot to live up to. Volkman states that “users complain that the app doesn’t run smoothly and often stalls,” while others have complaints about the layout and formatting. While the app does give users streaming access, exposure to new artists outside of your library is not really included.
Spotify has made a lot of changes over the years. Currently, users can stream music, videos and hundreds of different podcasts. While users do get access to lots of music, sometimes super new releases will not be available right off the bat because of licensing issues.
Backed by big names such as Jay Z, Tidal is a little bit like the new kid on the block of the streaming world. Sadly, there is no free version of Tidal but subscribing with them means you will get super high fidelity and lossless audio tracks as well as access to Tidal exclusive releases and HD music videos.