- Music streaming services give you access to millions of songs for a monthly subscription fee so you don’t have to buy individual songs or albums anymore.
- Spotify is the best music streaming service for most people, but Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited, and YouTube Music are also great options, depending on your needs.
- If you’re looking for a good pair of headphones or speakers to listen to your favorite music services on, be sure to check out our roundups of the best headphone deals and the best speaker deals.
Music listening has come a long way over the past few decades. Gone are the days when you had to buy CDs, vinyl records, or cassette tapes. You don’t even have to buy digital downloads anymore. These days, you can simply sign up to a music streaming service and have access to all the music you’ll ever need on a device that sits in your pocket.
Of course, there are quite a few music streaming services out there, and they’re all a little different. Because of that, it can be hard to find the service that’s perfect for your needs.
When deciding which streaming service to get, it’s worth considering a few things. For starters, you’ll want to make sure that there’s an app for your chosen streaming service on every device you use for music listening.
You’ll also want to consider things like streaming audio quality and support for platforms like digital assistants. Voice assistants are getting better at working with third-party services, but they’re still not great at it – especially when it comes to Siri.
Still figuring out which streaming service is for you? We’ve done the research so that you don’t have to. Here are the best music streaming services worth considering.
Here are the best music streaming services:
- Best music streaming service overall: Spotify
- Best music streaming service for Apple devices: Apple Music
- Best high resolution music streaming service for audiophiles: Tidal
- Best music streaming service for Amazon Prime members: Amazon Music Unlimited
- Best music streaming service for Google users: YouTube Music
Updated on 8/31/2020 by Steven Cohen: Revised pricing and free trial options for Spotify, Tidal, and Amazon Music. Removed paid promotion for Best Buy and Tidal. Added a link to our review of Amazon Music Unlimited.
The best overall
Spotify has a ton of music and audio content and it's available on a range of products, making it a great choice for those who listen to music on a variety of devices.
Looking for a music streaming service that has a huge range of music and is compatible with all your devices? Spotify is the way to go. Spotify is the original big music streaming service, and it has apps for all major platforms - including iOS, Android, and your preferred web browser.
One of the best things about Spotify is that you can try it out without having to subscribe. There's a free, ad-based version of Spotify that you can use for as long as you like, as long as you're fine with hearing ads every now and then.
While on a desktop, many streaming services only work through web-based apps, Spotify has native apps for everything. In other words, if you're on a Mac or PC and prefer a dedicated app, then you can get an app for Spotify. The service also has podcasts and video content, plus it streams music in up to a 320Kbps resolution, which should be good enough for the majority of listeners.
Of course, there are a few downsides to consider. For example, there's no live programming or lossless audio plan, like there is on some other music streaming services. Apart from that, however, Spotify is a great streaming service that any music-lover will enjoy.
The ad-free version of Spotify starts at $9.99 per month for one account. There's also a Duo plan that supports two accounts for $12.99 month, and a Family plan that includes support for up to six accounts for $14.99 per month. Students can sign up for a discounted $4.99 per month plan as well.
New subscribers to the Spotify Individual Premium, Duo Premium, or Family Premium plans can currently receive a two-month free trial period. New Student Premium members can receive a free three-month trial.
For a detailed rundown of how Spotify stacks up to one of our other top picks, Amazon Music, check out our full comparison of both services.
Pros: Highly compatible, has a ton of content, audio quality is good enough for most listeners, free version available
Cons: No live content, no lossless audio option
The best for Apple fans
Apple Music works beautifully on Apple devices, plus there's an app for it across a range of platforms, including Android.
If you use an iPhone and other Apple products, then it's worth considering Apple Music. Apple Music integrates very well with Apple's hardware and software, plus it's well-designed and works with your existing library of iTunes music. Not only that, but Apple Music has a library of 60 million songs, which is absolutely massive.
One of the best things about Apple Music is that it integrates with Siri and the Apple Watch perfectly, plus it can be played on a HomePod without issue. In other words, if you have other Apple devices, then Apple Music is probably the service to go for.
Apple Music has a nice selection of content too. Apart from the songs available on Apple Music, the service also offers the Beats 1 radio station and some exclusive music.
Though Apple Music was initially missing a web browser option, Apple now allows subscribers to use the service through internet browsers on computers and laptops without having to install a separate app.
Apple Music starts at $9.99 per month for one account. A Family plan with support for six people is available for $14.99 per month, and a discounted Student plan is available for $4.99 per month. New members can receive a free three-month trial. That's one month longer than the trial period that Spotify currently offers for its comparable plans.
Unlike Spotify, however, Apple Music does not offer a free version with ads, so you will need to subscribe to enjoy the service's selection of songs.
Pros: Huge selection of content, live radio, excellent integration with Apple devices, three-month trial
Cons: No free version, no lossless audio option
The best for audiophiles
Tidal is available on a range of platforms, plus it offers much better audio quality than the majority of other music streaming services out there.
Tidal is a little different from other music streaming services in that it's targeted toward those who want a higher resolution audio experience - and as such, it provides excellent sound performance.
While Tidal offers a Premium plan that uses the same 320Kbps bitrate that services like Spotify use, Tidal also has a HiFi plan that steps things up to a whopping 1,411Kbps in the lossless FLAC format. This means that you get to listen to music in full CD quality exactly as it was meant to be heard. It should be noted, however, that you will need higher quality audio gear and a Wi-Fi or wired connection to your playback device in order to really enjoy the benefits that lossless audio provides.
Tidal's HiFi plan also includes a selection of 3D audio tracks using the Dolby Atmos or Sony 360 Reality Audio codecs. 3D audio uses spatial technology to create an expanded sense of dimension with more enveloping sound.
Tidal is also known for streaming some notable exclusive content. Albums like Jay-Z's "4:44" and Kanye West's "The Life of Pablo" were first launched on Tidal, and the service will likely get other exclusive launches too. There are also music videos and other behind-the-scenes content, plus Tidal subscribers get access to select concert and sports tickets.
Nothing's perfect, and Tidal is no exception to that rule. The service doesn't have some features that others offer, like lyrics, and there's no free version for those that don't mind an ad-supported service. The HiFi plan also costs more than most competing music streaming services - though you do get better sound quality for the higher monthly fee.
Tidal Premium starts at $9.99 per month for one account, and there's a Family plan for $14.99 per month with support for six people. Tidal HiFi steps the price up to $19.99 per month for one account, or $29.99 for the Family plan with support for six people. A Student Premium option is also available for $4.99 per month, along with a Student HiFi plan for $9.99 per month. A 30-day trial is available for new members who sign up for a regularly priced plan.
When it comes to other lossless music streaming options, Tidal has some tough competition from Amazon's new Music HD plan. This service offers similar high resolution audio for a more affordable price of $14.99 per month. Unlike Tidal, however, Amazon Music HD doesn't include videos. Music HD is also available on fewer devices and it lacks the exclusive releases that Tidal features.
Pros: Excellent audio quality with an option for lossless playback, available on a range of platforms, exclusive content, includes music videos
Cons: No free version, missing some features, HiFi plan is expensive
The best with Alexa
Amazon Music Unlimited works on a range of platforms, plus it integrates perfectly with Alexa and offers discounts for Prime subscribers or Echo owners.
If you're a Prime subscriber, you already have access to Prime Music, but if you want a more comprehensive streaming service, then it's worth stepping things up with Music Unlimited, which offers a much bigger music library.
Music Unlimited is available on a range of platforms, including iOS, Android, and the web. The service is tightly integrated with Amazon's Alexa, so if you have an Echo or other Alexa product, it'll work perfectly.
If you use other Amazon products, you might get a bit of a deal, too. Amazon Music Unlimited normally costs $9.99 per month, but Amazon Prime subscribers can pay a discounted monthly fee of just $7.99 per month or an annual fee of $79 a year. Prime members can also choose a Family plan with support for six people for $14.99 per month or an annual plan cost of $149 a year. If you just want to stream music on one Amazon device, like an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, you have the option for an even cheaper plan at just $3.99 per month.
New members can receive a free 30-day trial of Music Unlimited. After the trial, your subscription will automatically continue for the regular monthly price unless you decide to cancel.
When it comes to audio quality, Music Unlimited streams at 256Kbps. Amazon doesn't detail exactly how many tracks are included on Music Unlimited, but the company boasts a collection of "over 60 million songs." Music Unlimited doesn't offer any non-music content, but apart from that, it's a pretty great service for those plugged into the Amazon ecosystem.
For those who want lossless audio playback, Amazon also offers its Music HD service with support for high resolution audio playback. Amazon Music HD is available for a regular price of $14.99 per month or a Prime member discounted price of just $12.99 per month.
In addition to lossless audio, Music HD includes a selection of tracks mastered in Dolby Atmos and Sony's 360 Reality Audio codecs as well. These formats enable 3D audio on supported devices, including the Echo Studio.
For a detailed rundown of how Amazon Music stacks up to our top pick, Spotify, check out our full comparison of both services.
Pros: Discounts for Amazon Prime and Echo customers, good music library selection, Alexa integration
Cons: No content other than music
The best for Android users
YouTube Music has a decent library of music, plus it integrates very well with Google's other apps and services, including Google Assistant.
YouTube Music is the way to go if you're really plugged into Google's ecosystem of products. In other words, if you have an Android phone and want your music streaming service to integrate well with Google Assistant, then YouTube Music is a convenient service.
YouTube Music isn't only available for Android devices. It's also available on iOS and on the web, so you should be able to access the service wherever you are. The platform is smart, so you'll get interesting location-based playlists and the ability to search for songs based on the lyrics in that song.
Of course, YouTube Music isn't perfect, but Google has been working on making it better. The app doesn't really integrate with other voice assistants like Alexa, so if you have an Echo you'll be stuck with playing music through the Bluetooth connection on your phone. With that said, the service does now support Siri.
Like Spotify, YouTube Music offers a free, ad-supported version that you can try out first. The Premium plan without ads is $9.99 per month for one account. There's also a discounted Student plan for $4.99 per month, and a Family plan with support for six people for $14.99 per month. All of the plans include a one-month free trial.
YouTube Music is also included as part of a YouTube Premium plan for $11.99 a month. YouTube Premium includes exclusive video content and ad-free video playback. Since this option is only $2 more than YouTube Music Premium is on its own, this plan is a better value for music fans who also like to watch YouTube videos.
Pros: Interesting playlists, good integration with Google services, free version available
Cons: Doesn't integrate with Alexa, no lossless audio option
Check out our other related buying guides
If you're signing up for a music streaming service, chances are you'll need a reliable media player or smartphone to access the app, along with a nice pair of speakers or headphones to actually listen to your favorite tracks on. With that in mind, we've highlighted some of our other buying guides for streaming players, mobile devices, headphones, and speakers that are sure to come in handy for anyone who wants to stream music.
Though media players are primarily used for video services, like Netflix and Disney Plus, many streaming devices also offer access to music services like Spotify. With a dedicated streaming player you can listen to your favorite songs directly through your TV. Through research and testing we've picked the best streaming sticks and boxes you can buy.
If you're looking for a reliable device to stream music on throughout the day, few options are as convenient as a smartphone. Android and iOS mobile devices offer access to a large assortment of music streaming services, allowing you to easily stream tracks over your mobile connection or Wi-Fi. These are the best smartphones you can buy.
After finding a device to access your favorite music streaming services on, you'll need something to actually hear your music through, and a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones are an excellent choice. With active noise cancelling tech, these headphones are able to minimize distracting ambient sounds, making it easier to hear your music. These are the best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy.
Completely free from wires, true wireless headphones allow you to pair each earbud to your phone without any pesky cables getting in the way. Some true wireless earbuds even include support for noise cancellation technology. After testing out several models, we've selected the best true wireless earbuds you can buy.
Headphones are great for personal listening, but if you want music to fill your living room or office you'll need a nice pair of speakers. There are many different speaker types to choose from. For the best audio quality you'll likely want to go for a pair of floorstanding speakers or bookshelf speakers. Meanwhile, if mobility or digital assistant functionality are your primary concern, you'll be better off with a Bluetooth speaker or a smart speaker. With different needs and budgets in mind, we've picked the best speakers you can buy.
Bluetooth speakers allow you to listen to music wirelessly from a connected device. Though Bluetooth speakers typically don't offer the very best audio quality, they often feature other added benefits, like portability and digital assistant integration. These are the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy.
If you plan on streaming hi-res music services, like Tidal or Amazon Music HD, then a dedicated digital-to-analog converter (DAC) will help unlock the full potential of higher fidelity tracks. A quality DAC can refine the processing of digital to analog audio transformations to optimize the sound produced by smartphones, computers, and other connected devices. These are the best DACs you can buy.