If you’re anything like me, there is NEVER enough room on your phone for all the music you may find yourself wanting to listen to throughout the day. If you’re even more like me, you don’t want to carry around a separate MP3 player just so you can have access to all your tunes on the go. Well, fret not. Thanks to streaming music services, for a nominal monthly fee you can have access to millions upon millions of songs wherever you have cell phone service. It’s an elegant solution to the never-ending problem of “what the heck should I listen to right now?”
Spotify is of course something that most people have heard of. With a massive library of over 20 million songs, it’s got something that most people would be happy to listen to. Though it has an ad-supported version, the $10 per month premium subscription gets rid of ads and allows for higher quality streaming and offline capabilities. Available on Android and iOS, with desktop apps for Windows and OSX, as well as browser-based playing.
Rdio is much like Spotify and has a library that rivals it to boot. For $9.99 a month, you get access to more than 20 million songs, with a very well designed mobile app. Rdio is available for Android, iOS and desktop systems.
Beats Music is also similar to Spotify and Rdio, though with one useful addition: curators. Depending on what you listen to, Beats will suggest artists and tracks that it thinks you will like. Praise for this feature has been fairly overwhelming. Given Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats, it seems this service has nowhere to go but up. Beats is subscription only, and costs $10 per month for use on up to three devices. iOS, Android and desktop are all supported.
iTunes Radio is relatively new to the streaming music scene. Available for free (albeit with ads) on any Apple device—or for $24.99 per year you get ad-free radio as well as access to iTunes Match—it is a service that stores all of your music (including tracks purchased through Apple) in the cloud, allowing you to access all of your purchased tracks no matter where you are. The downside is that iTunes Radio is unavailable on Android.
Google Play Music is Google’s streaming music solution. For the very reasonable price of “free,” you can upload up to 20,000 tracks of your own to Google’s servers and access them from anywhere, ad-free. For an extra $10 per month, you get access to Google’s vast library of music, which easily rivals Spotify for content. Unlike Apple’s offering, Google Play Music is available for both iOS and Android. There are no official desktop applications, though if you use OSX, the excellent G-Ear Player is available in the App Store.
Amazon Cloud Player is similar to Google Play Music in that it is first and foremost a “music locker.” You upload your own music collection to it and it allows you to stream from anywhere you like. For $24.99 a year, you get storage for 250,000 songs, certainly more than enough for the vast majority of people. On top of that, the desktop player includes access to Amazon’s rather sizable music store, and CD and LP purchases that include “Autorip” will apply to your account as well, without counting against your 250,000 song limit. Add in the massive deals and free music that Amazon Prime members get and you’ve got a pretty good system. Amazon has your typical iOS and Android apps, as well as apps for Roku media players and Samsung Smart TVs, among other household gadgets.