Top 6 music streaming services

Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music give you endless choice when you’re listening to music. But which is right for you? Here’s our pick of the top 6… 

18 Nov 2016



In a nutshell: The service where streaming went mainstream. Whatever you want to listen to, you’re likely to find it on Spotify (bar Taylor Swift that is…)

Some 60 million people use Spotify. And there are more than 30 million songs to choose from – spanning everything from pop and RnB, to indie and acoustic, right through to jazz and funk.

You can archive songs into your own personal playlists – and take them with you for offline listening. Or choose from the massive archive of Spotify-curated playlists, with something to suit pretty much every genre and mood.

Want to discover new music? It also recommends albums and artists it thinks you’ll like based on what you’ve been listening to.

How much does it cost? Spotify Premium is £9.99 per month. There are discounted family plans too, depending on how many people you want to add
Can you get your music offline? Yes
Does it work on my phone? Yes. Just download the Spotify app
Can I store my own music? Yes. You can upload your own music library (up to 10,000 tracks) into Spotify


Amazon Music Unlimited

In a nutshell: The latest entry into music on-demand – offering 40 million songs, playlists and stations

Amazon has finally launched its Spotify rival in the UK – Music Unlimited. Subscribers to Amazon Prime already have access to Prime Music – the ad-free extra with 2 million songs. But Music Unlimited is a full-blown streaming service with a massive 40 million songs, along with carefully curated playlists and stations. And it comes with some pretty cool features too. 

Not sure of the lyrics to that new song you like? The X-Ray lyrics feature displays the words as the song playsAmazon Echo and Echo Dot voice-controlled speakers are where the service really shines. Just tell the speaker what you want to listen to and the built-in Alexa voice assistant will play it.


How much does it cost? It’s £7.99 per month for Prime Members and £9.99 per month for non-members. There are discounted plans for people who own Amazon Echo as well as a family plan that’s coming soon

Can you get your music offline? Yes

Does it work on my phone? Yes, Just download the Amazon Music app

Dan I store my own music? Yes, you can upload your music library in Music Unlimited



In a nutshell: Jay Z’s artist-owned platform for music video, co-owned by the likes of Madonna, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin, Arcade Fire and a number of other performers.

High-profile names aside, the real headline of Tidal is the sound quality. As well as regular quality streaming it also offers high fidelity streaming.

Audiophiles with swanky speakers will love this lossless CD-quality sound – although this subscription plan costs more per month than regular quality streaming.

Other than that it works like any other streaming service. It has millions of tracks for you to choose from, and offers exclusive advance launches from certain artists like Kanye West and Beyoncé.

How much does it cost? £9.99 per month Tidal Premium (standard sound quality). £19.99 per month for Tidal Hi-Fi (lossless High Fidelity).  You can add family members to your plan for an additional cost too
Can you get your music offline? Yes
Does it work on my phone? Yes. Just download the Tidal app
Can I store my own music? Yes you can import your own playlists into Tidal


Apple Music

In a nutshell: A streaming dream for iTunes devotees, Mac-using creatives, and iPad and iPhone types. 

The service works on all your Apple devices, as well as Windows laptops and Android phones. 

With it, you can stream all the songs in the Apple Music library (that’s around 30 million – and including Taylor Swift). Use iTunes? Your whole iTunes catalogue will be automatically imported into Apple Music when you download it.

It also suggests new music to you as it learns what you like – based on what you play and what you say. And these suggestions are curated by real-life muso types.

Streaming aside, there’s also a bona fide radio station called Beats 1 that counts Zane Lowe among its DJs.

How much does it cost? £9.99 per month for an individual subscription. There’s a family plan for £14.99 per month as well
Can you get your music offline? Yes
Does it work on my phone? Yes, the Apple Music app is now available on iPhone or Android
Can I store my own music? Yes. You can sync your iTunes library with Apple Music

 Apple music

Credit: Apple


Google Play Music

In a nutshell: Stream from 35 million songs on Google’s library – from Iggy Azalea to Iggy Pop.

Listen at home on your laptop or tablet, or out and about on your phone with Google Play.

Want to take your existing music collection with you too? You can upload your iTunes library into Google Play Music – so you’ll still be able to enjoy all those albums you’ve bought over the years.

Plus YouTube is part of the deal – listen to music without ads, and even when you’re offline.

How much does it cost? £9.99 per month
Can you get your music offline? Yes
Does it work on my phone? Yes. Just download the Google Play Music app
Can I store my own music? Yes. Import your iTunes library


SoundCloud Go

In a nutshell: The new kid on the block, SoundCloud has been the go-to for artists to premiere tracks and share them on social media – and now it has its own streaming service.

Discovering new music is easy with SoundCloud’s library of 125m tracks from emerging and more well-known artists – including most new releases.

Fancy listening to something a bit different? There are loads of remixes, covers and DJ sets for you to choose from too.

If you want to keep using the free version of SoundCloud, it’ll still work but with adverts.

How much does it cost? £9.99 per month
Can you get your music offline? Yes
Does it work on my phone? Yes, just download the SoundCloud app and sign up to Go
Can I store my own music? No



In a nutshell: The indie one for emerging artists. It’s the place to find and support artists that you truly love.

Bandcamp works a bit differently to the other streaming services. Rather than signing up to the service itself, you subscribe to individual bands and musicians. You can also buy specific albums and tracks you like.

Once you’ve signed up you get your new favourite band’s releases, back catalogue and exclusives whenever you want.  

The bands you love also share photos and post messages to their subscribers. And you can buy their merchandise and gig tickets through it too.

How much does it cost? Artists set their own subscription rate   
Can you get your music offline? Yes
Does it work on my phone? Yes. Just download the Bandcamp app
Can I store my own music? No

Want to take your music with you this summer? Check out our range of portable speakers.

Related in Audio

How to take your music outside (without annoying the neighbours)

01 Jul 2022

A hands-on review of the Beats Fit Pro

10 Jun 2022

Reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of wireless headphones

06 Jun 2022

How to connect multiple Bluetooth speakers around your home

04 Apr 2022

Super clean sounds from LG

28 Jan 2022