Should I use Spotify or SoundCloud?

6 great music streaming services compared

By Marlene Polywka | January 28, 2021, 2:45 p.m.

Gone are the days when music was only available on vinyl, CD or MP3. Instead, music streaming providers such as Spotify, Deezer, Amazon and Co. provide millions of songs, podcasts and audio books on demand at any time.

Streaming is not only popular in the video sector, streaming services are also increasingly being used when listening to music. A wide range of music can be heard very comfortably anytime and anywhere. As a rule, this works via a monthly fee that is charged by the provider, who in return grants access to their media library. TECHBOOK compares seven of the best-known and largest music streaming providers in the music sector in terms of price, offer, platform and handling.

Spotify

According to its own annual report (as of October 2019), 113 million people now use the paid premium version of Spotify. Almost 250 million people listen to music via the free, advertising-supported version. The Swedish streaming service is and will remain the front runner. The range of music on offer is growing every day and now includes over 60 million titles, including podcasts and audio books. Particularly positive: The algorithm for playlists and music suggestions, which makes (terrifyingly fitting) personalized music suggestions and creates playlists.

In terms of price, Spotify, at 9.99 euros for the standard version, is exactly the average of the monthly costs for music streaming services. Students pay only 4.99 euros and families have a subscription for 14.99 euros per month. Up to six family members can stream music at the same time with their own login data. In general, Spotify is very intuitive to use, only some functions such as synchronization with existing music files can be a bit confusing.

Amazon Music Unlimited

In addition to Prime Music, which can only be used by customers with a Prime membership, the shipping giant Amazon also offers Amazon Music with the options Unlimited and HD. Although Prime members get away particularly cheaply with 7.99 euros per month, the price of 9.99 euros per month is also fully within the framework for normal users. The flexible pricing strategy also enables a discounted annual subscription. Since September 2019, Amazon has also been offering a tariff in HD - high definition quality - from EUR 12.99. Users can access the same selection as in the regular tariff, but the streaming quality is higher at 16 bit and 44.1 kHz. The online retailer also offers a loudspeaker with 3D sound, the Echo Studio, to match the HD sound.

The offer is constantly being expanded, not just in the musical area. Sports fans, for example, get their money's worth with radio broadcasts of the Bundesliga and other important games. In addition, Amazon has integrated its voice assistant Alexa into the mobile apps for Android and iOS so that they can be controlled completely by voice. Since November 19, 2019, the free version, which was previously only valid for Echo owners, has also been valid for all other users. The advertising-supported version is very limited in comparison with a selection of playlists and radio stations, but non-Amazon customers should still be happy about the exciting offer.

YouTube Music

The video platform YouTube has also jumped on the music streaming bandwagon. The streaming provider YouTube Music originally only showed music videos, but is now a full-fledged music streaming service with its own app and an extensive range of music. Incidentally, Google Play Music was integrated into YouTube Music at the end of 2020, so that the Google Music offer is now concentrated. The free version switches ads every few minutes / title, the ad-free premium version costs 9.99 - as with the competition Euros per month.

With their location-based playlists, the provider puts you in the holiday mood when you're abroad or motivates you in the gym. Unfortunately, the apps for the well-known video service and the newer music offer are separate and users cannot upload their own songs. Nevertheless, the video connection is naturally good from the start. A corresponding music video is also available for many of the songs.

In addition, the quality of the suggestion algorithm does not come close to that of the competition. For example, if you state that you like to hear a certain artist, the provider will only suggest new songs by him. So the discovery of new artists is clearly restricted.

Apple Music

Apple's music streaming service did not start until 2015, which is late in comparison to the competition. However, the offer was well received and is particularly suitable for users who already have Apple devices and / or an iTunes library. Because, as usual with the large manufacturer from Cupertino, the products work very well with each other within their own system. The media library offers over 70 million songs and iTunes content can be easily transferred to Apple Music. Sometimes the platform even offers users content before it is officially released!

The search function is also impressive, as it even enables you to find songs using the text. Only the compatibility with devices outside the Apple cosmos is not always free of complications, especially with intelligent speakers like the Google Home. There is a three-month trial version for those who are undecided.

Deezer

The French provider Deezer is almost as well known as the market leader Spotify. Subscriptions can not only be concluded with Deezer, but also with GMX or Vodafone, which makes it easier for customers of these services to get started and saves money. In addition to the “usual” personalized playlists with suggestions, Deezer also has an individualized radio station that adapts to the preferences of its listeners ahead of the competition. In general, the service has an impressive radio offering.

Similar to Spotify, Deezer relies on compatibility and distribution. On various platforms, audio hardware, televisions, in the car - the app can be played almost anywhere. Unfortunately, the free version in particular is severely limited. As with the competition, offline listening is only possible to a limited extent and only the radio function and the random function “Flow” are available for mobile use. In return, the music streaming service scores with very good audio quality.

SoundCloud

SoundCloud has by far the largest music offering. This is mainly due to the fact that artists can easily publish their titles here themselves. This is particularly interesting for those who receive direct feedback and want to easily upload their music to the platform. In this way, users have the opportunity to draw from a larger pool and also get to know lesser-known artists. The standard version SoundCloud Go costs 5.99 euros per month, the premium package SoundCloud Go + is available for 9.99 euros.

The streaming service is a real option for the market giants, especially for thoroughbred music lovers and those keen to experiment. The offer is really extensive, but many well-known (licensed) titles are missing.

Conclusion

When comparing the six music streaming providers, the differences are particularly evident in the offer and the compatible platforms and devices. When it comes to pricing, however, everyone is pretty much in agreement. If there is a separate tariff (Spotify, Amazon, Apple, YouTube, Deezer) students pay 4.99 euros per month, the regular tariff is 9.99 euros and family packages (only not available from SoundCloud) cost 14.99 euros .

The most successful streaming service is Spotify, despite the somewhat smaller offer in comparison. The provider is compatible with almost every system, can be linked to social profiles and offers the best algorithm in terms of music selection. For users who are already familiar with Apple or Google in terms of software and hardware, however, the corresponding music streaming offers Apple Music and YouTube Music are definitely recommended. The synchronization and compatibility are completely guaranteed in the respective system and the selection of songs is large. Apple Music offers the big bonus that whole albums are sometimes available in advance, even by really famous artists.

For Amazon customers, on the other hand, Amazon Music is worthwhile. Compared to the implemented offer from Prime Music, the scope of the streaming platform is considerably larger. Live radio and soccer broadcast are a nice bonus. Deezer scores above all with excellent audio quality and an individualized radio station, while SoundCloud is primarily aimed at all music lovers who like to be surprised by completely unknown artists.

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