Spotify vs Deezer vs Rdio vs Bloom vs Napster vs Google Play Music
Internet radio is great and everything, but today’s digital consumers want control over their music.
That’s where streaming services come in, offering the songs you want, instantly.
However, the streaming space is a competitive place to be, and no one brand has yet come out on top so we’ve compiled a run down of the top six.
This list is by no means exhaustive; we’re more than aware that there are plenty more out there, but these are the main players in the UK and the ones most likely to get get your money.
This is the big dog in the music streaming world, with the most mass-market traction and a massive number of users. It also offers some useful apps to aid with music discovery.
Library size: 20m
Cost: Free on mobile, tablet and computer with ads. £10 a month for full ad-free access on any device.
Pros: Massive user base (20m), so plenty of people to connect and share music with. Facebook integration is useful if you like that sort of thing.
Cons: Slow to patch problems, really tries hard to push you towards Facebook, unattractive user interface.
Overall: It’s an undeniably great service, but The horrible UI and ever-changing list of rules make it hard service to commit to.
A French company that offers a solid package, Deezer has a massive 30m songs in its library, including a lot of indie stuff and world music overlooked by rivals.
Library size: 30m
Cost: A one month free trial is available, but after that it’s £5 for computer access, £10 for all devices.
Pros: The library is the big attraction here. Also, intelligent caching enables faster streaming of favourite tracks.
Cons: The free facility is not as generous as other services and the app is a bit rough around the edges.
Overall: The huge number of tracks means Deezer is an excellent choice for those who want the most music for their money. The mobile experience, however, needs some love.
Rdio has 20 million songs on offer and it has made its free ad-supported service unlimited to users. Facebook integration is a big thing too, so you can follow real-life people if you want.
Library size: 20m
Cost: £10 for unlimited streaming and the ability to sync music onto your devices.
Pros: Rdio has a very clean, minimal interface and moving across devices is seamless. A feature called You FM is well-implemented, which plays music Rdio thinks you’ll like, ranging from familiar to adventurous.
Cons: An increase in the 192 kbps audio would be appreciated, and search does not always work from deeper menus.
Overall: It’s often overlooked in favour of bigger names with bigger advertising budgets, but Rdio is impressive. The slick mobile and tablet apps are enjoyable to use and it’s wonderful for music discovery.
NOTE: Bloom FM has now closed up shop. A great shame as it was an excellent service.
A beautifully designed service with a variety of subscription offers, starting as low as £1 for 20 songs. If that sounds pathetically small, you are clearly too young to remember cassette mixtapes.
Library size: 22m
Cost: £1 a month for 20 songs, £5 for 200 and full access for a tenner. Unless you’re on iOS, then it’s £14.
Pros: The £1 option is a great idea, and it’s possible to swap out the 20 songs for others when you feel like it. The app design is fantastic, with a very attractive, inventive UI.
Cons: The £4 premium for using on iOS is just daft, and there is still no desktop access to the service.
Overall: If Bloom can sort out its pricing and allow access on any device, it’ll be a proper contender. At the moment though, anyone wanting a full, unlimited streaming service should look elsewhere.
No longer the big bad guys trying to take away Lars Ulrich’s money, Napster is now a legitimate service with an enviable library and some artists that don’t seem to appear anywhere else.
Library size: 20m
Cost: Online only unlimited access for £5 a month, complete mobile-inclusive access for £10.
Pros: Although Napster has fewer tracks than some services, it feels like it has more, listing music for some artists not offered at all on rivals. It also has a cool Xbox 360 app which allows full access.
Cons: The tablet app does not display correctly, cutting album covers in half for some reason; and the mobile app is prone to crashing.
Overall: With a strong brand and a great library, Napster could be amazing. Those design and stability issues aren’t new though, but nothing has been done about them.
Google Play Music All Access
Despite the clunky name, Google’s music streaming service is smoother than most. It has 18 million songs in its library, which makes it smaller than the others, but you can also store up to 20,000 of your own tracks on Google’s servers and then stream them to your devices.
Library size: 18m
Cost: A free trial like everyone else, but when that ends you can still use the 20,000 song service. Full, unlimited streaming is £10 a month.
Pros: The online locker is an absolute killer feature, and one that the other services should try to emulate as quickly as possible.
Cons: The Google name isn’t as trustworthy as it once was, and you might prefer to give your money to a smaller player. It seems churlish to complain about storage for 20,000 of your own songs, but for those with larger music collections, it may not be enough.
Overall: With Google Play Music All Access, the search giant has looked at the rivals, thought about how they can improve, and turned themselves into worthy challengers. The library and storage space is only going to grow.