A music streaming subscription is a great way to try out new artists, explore different genres, or gorge yourself on an all-you-can-eat buffet of classic albums. With so many to choose from, be it Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Apple Music or others, it can be hard to know where your money should be spent. So, to help you make the right decision we’ve put together this handy guide which explains what they have to offer and how they compare.

These are the best music streaming services of 2019:

What should I look for in a music streaming service?

It’s fair to say that there has been a fair amount of standardisation in the music streaming landscape over the past few years. When you sign up to one, you can expect a large range of music (both new and old), various playlists that gather together related songs, and recommendations based on your listening preferences.

Many services now include podcasts, and some even have videos too, with YouTube Music Premium being the most advanced in that particular area. 

If a service has a free tier, such as Spotify, Deezer, or Amazon Music, then these will usually be quite restrictive, with offline listening disabled, ads played between tracks, and, in some cases, a reduced selection of music. Most offer individuals plans for around £10 / $10 per month and Family plans that cost £15 / $15. The latter can be particularly good value as it usually includes six individual premium accounts, albeit ones that need the members to live in the same household.

There’s not really a ‘best’ service, as that particular accolade depends on what you like to listen to and how much you’ll use the additional features. But, with all of the ones listed below featuring free-trials of their Premium offerings, we recommend trying one after the other to see which one fits your lifestyle and music needs.

For other subscription-based entertainment, read our roundups of the best movie & TV streaming services and best game streaming services.

Spotify

Spotify Premium

  • Huge selection of music
  • Shareable Playlists
  • Podcasts 

Spotify is a name that has become synonymous with music streaming, as the company has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and established itself as the world’s most popular service, boasting over 200 million active users.

This popularity is aided by the various tiers on offer. There’s a free version that’s ad-supported, but which still gives you access to the 40-odd million songs on the platform. If you want offline listening on your phone then the Premium subscription is the way to go, while students benefit from their own tier that offers Premium at half price. As is now the norm, a family subscription is available which consists of six premium accounts for a very reasonable £14.99 / $14.99 per month. Here's the full range: 

  • Free
  • Student Premium: £4.99 / $4.99
  • Premium: £9.99 / $9.99
  • Family: £14.99 / $14.99

As we’ve already mentioned, there’s a huge selection of music available, and this is accompanied by playlists Spotify creates based on your listening habits, called Discover Weekly. There’s also Release Radar and Time Capsule that highlight new and classic tracks that the service thinks you’ll enjoy, plus radio stations built around certain songs and artists.

Podcasts are a recent addition, with plenty to choose from, and there are also a splattering of music documentaries and live performance videos. Add to this the social element that allows you to share directly playlists with friends, while also being able see what they’re currently listening to, and it’s a potent mix for discovering and enjoying new music. 

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Apple Music

Apple Music

  • Exclusive albums
  • iTunes library integration
  • Beats 1

Apple may have entered the streaming market a bit later than some of its competitors, but that hasn’t stopped it recently taking the top slot in the US as the most used service. There’s an obvious link with iPhones, iPads, and Macs, but Apple Music is also available on Android and PCs, making it an option no matter which hardware you prefer.

A catalogue of over 50million songs gives it an advantage over the likes of Spotify and Google Play Music in terms of choice, and just like those services Apple Music offers custom playlists each week created around the songs you listen to regularly. There are also playlists generated by the tracks your friends are enjoying, plus numerous top 100 charts from all around the world. 

A number of exclusives are offered, such as live performances, special sessions, and interviews with popular and emerging artists. This is accompanied by the Beats 1 radio station that has live shows with DJs such as Zane Lowe, and a large selection of other stations that cover specific genres. Music videos are also available, so you can turn your iPad or iPhone into MTV, plus the service integrates your existing iTunes library into search results, so you can easily include them in playlists.

Apple Music has come a long way in a short time, making it an excellent all-rounder for music, radio, and video content. Best of all there’s a free three-month trial so you can explore its features without spending any money. Here are the paid options (monthly pricing):

  • Student: £4.99 / $4.99
  • Individual: £9.99 / $9.99
  • Family: £14.99 / $14.99

Get Apple Music

Google Play Music

Google Play Music

  • Upload 50,000 of your own songs
  • Automatic membership to YouTube Music
  • 40m+ songs

Google’s music service is in the midst of a transition at the moment. It’s still a fine offering, with over 40m songs, curated playlists, themed ‘radio stations’, offline play, and all ad-free (except for on the limited free tier). But the search giant has announced that it will be transitioning Play Music into the YouTube Music service in the future.

As this takes place, you will still be able to sign up to Google Play Music, enjoy all the benefits of the platform, and even get a YouTube Music subscription as part of the package. Then, once all of the features are replicated on the new service, you’ll be moved onto YouTube Music instead. One of the key ones that we’re particular fans of is Cloud Locker, which allows you to upload a maximum of 50,000 songs to your account, which then makes them available across all your devices. This essentially works as a backup for your music library. 

Until the great migration takes place, there’s plenty to enjoy, and Google has stated that all playlists, preferences, and your music library will be available in your YouTube Music account.

This is what it costs per month:

  • Free
  • Unlimited: £9.99 / $9.99
  • Family: £14.99 / $14.99

Get Google Play Music

YouTube Music Premium

YouTube Music Premium

  • Wide range of music videos
  • Links to your YouTube library
  • Exclusive live performances

Google’s newest platform is YouTube Music Premium, which combines a classic music streaming service with a large selection of music videos. There’s the expected range of playlists and new releases, plus the added features of being able to listen to YouTube in the background, no ads, and offline listening.

While you might expect something with YouTube in the title to be a video-only service, you’re able to turn off the visuals and revert all content to audio instead. This saves not only battery life and data on mobile devices, but also means you can put together an impressive collection of live, rare, and official versions of songs that you wouldn’t get on another platform.

A free tier allows you take access all content, but these are interrupted by ads, can’t be downloaded, and require you screen on to hear them. Moving up to the Premium level removes these restrictions, and there are the now standard levels for students, individuals, and families. All of these come with a one-month free trial, so you can give the YouTube Music Premium a proper test-run to see how it stacks up against the competition.

These are the monthly plan costs:

  • Free
  • Student: £4.99 / $4.99
  • Individual: £9.99 / $9.99
  • Family: £14.99 / $14.99

Get YouTube Music Premium

Deezer

Deezer

  • 53+ million tracks
  • Flow
  • Hi-Fi tier

French company Deezer has been around since 2007 and has grown itself into a service, going by all the figures provided, with the largest music catalogue in the business at over 53 million tracks. Alongside the copious albums, EPs, and singles, there is also a good selection of podcasts, live radio stations, and specially recorded Deezer Sessions by artists such as Jade Bird, Dua Lipa, and The Streets.

The Flow feature is a continuous shuffle mode with tracks chosen to match the tunes you listen to most, and Deezer states that the more you use the service the more it will learn how to hone the selections to your taste.

As you’d expect, there are the regular tiers of Premium, Family, and Student, but Deezer adds a couple of extra options. Hi-Fi costs £19.99/$19.99p/m and supplies the music at CD-quality FLAC (16 bit/44.1kHz) so that you can play it though your desktop or sound-system and hear its full glory. Then there’s the option to pay for a Premium account all in one go, reducing the cost by around £20/$20. Here are all the options:

  • Student (Premium): £4.99 / $4.99
  • Premium: £9.99 / $9.99
  • Family: £14.99 / $14.99
  • HiFi:-£19.99/ $ 19.99
  • Annual Premium Plan: £99.90 / $99.90

Fitbit users, at least those with Ionic and Versa devices, will also be glad to hear that Deezer works on their trackers, making those long runs more enjoyable, and the service also has its own SongCatcher technology that works like Shazam to identify whatever tunes you’re hearing.

A free, ad-supported, tier allows you to sample all that Deezer has to offer, and we think you’ll discover that it’s quite a lot. 

Get Deezer

Amazon Prime Music Unlimited

Amazon Prime Music Unlimited

  • 2 million songs free with Amazon Prime
  • Hands-free listening with Alexa-powered devices
  • Single device plan for Echo or Fire TV

If you are already an Amazon Prime member then you’ll have access to Amazon Prime Music as part of your subscription. This entitles you to a couple of million tracks that are ad-free and can be downloaded to your device for offline listening. Should this not be enough, then Prime Music Unlimited boosts this to over 50 million songs for an additional monthly fee.

One unique tier on offer is for a Single Device. This is limited to the Amazon Echo and Fire TV family, but if you just want to listen to music at your work desk or home then it’s a nice addition for £3.99 / $3.99 per month. Here are other options for listening:

  • Amazon Prime Music included in the £7.99 / $7.99 Prime membership
  • Single Device: £3.99 / $3.99 per month
  • Student: £4.99 / $4.99 per month
  • Individual: £7.99 / $7.99 per month (£9.99 / $9.99 for non-Prime members)
  • Family: £14.99 / $14.99 per month

Whichever Unlimited tier you choose, you’ll find the standard features of playlists, themed ‘radio stations’, recommendations based on your listening habits, and ad-free offline listening on your smartphone or tablet. Due to Amazon also making its own Alexa-powered devices, you have the ability to use the music service hands-free simply by asking Alexa to play certain albums, match your current mood, or find a song based on some lyrics you remember.

At the time of writing, Amazon Music Unlimited is available with a free three-month trial, so that will give plenty of time to see if it’s the one for you.

Get Amazon Music Unlimited