Best Music Streaming Services for 2023

music streaming services 2023

The world of music streaming is more competitive than ever, with a combination of new and old players on the scene, each boasting their own individual features and strengths. But which is the best for 2023? Spotify isn’t necessarily your best bet, you’ll be surprised to hear.

Not too long ago, Spotify was the only real viable option when it came to streaming. In just the past few years, however, new competition has given this streaming giant a run for its money. In fact, most of the streaming services on this list offer a critical feature that Spotify is missing: Lossless audio.

Let’s dive into the article and explore the top 5 music streaming services for 2023. Read on to find out how they all compare, and to determine which is the best option for you.

Top 5 Music Streaming Services

We’ve selected our top 5 to be: Tidal, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, and Soundcloud GO+. The overall winner will be revealed at the end of the article. Till then, we examine each of these streaming services and highlight what makes them stand out in the market.

For Tidal, it’s their high-fidelity music, making it perfect for music lovers. Apple Music is for those who care about the user experience. Spotify is the biggest and most popular music streaming service on the market. Amazon Music Unlimited might be particularly suited to Prime subscribers, who receive enticing discounts. Finally, Soundcloud GO+ is for those who love discovering up-and-coming talents, before they’ve hit the big time.

Tidal: Best For Music Lovers

Tidal has been a leader in high-definition streaming for some time, so audiophiles may already be familiar with this service. The main drawback has been its price. That said, it has recently become more affordable. For instance, they’ve now included lossless audio compression at 16-bit 44.1kHz in their standard plan. What’s more, if you’re from the US, you can make the most of Tidal Free — the company’s first-ever free plan.

  • Pricing: Tidal will set you back $10 to $20 per month.
  • Features: Sound quality starts at 160kbps (free) and builds up to 1411kbps, CD-quality streaming, and 24-bit/96kHz. Currently boasts 80m+ songs and 350K+ videos. As for platforms, it has an iOS app, an Android app, a desktop app, and also a web player.
  • Pros: Exceptional sound quality, an extensive library, hi-res “Tidal Masters” tracks, an intuitive interface, offer artists direct payments, immersive content, broad device support, and improved discovery features.
  • Cons: There are more affordable hi-res alternatives.

In more detail…

Tidal’s major advantage over its competitors is its exceptionally high-quality lossless audio. Their new Hi-Fi plan offers interruption-free access to CD-quality audio. However, if you want to level up from this, then you can get to know their Hi-Fi Plus subscription. These music files, known as “Tidal Masters”, supposedly allow for more efficient packing of high-res data.

Although Tidal may be the most expensive on our list, its usability and sound quality are both remarkable. To really hear the difference in quality, we advise getting proper studio headphones and studio monitors, or hi-fi audio equipment. As a final point, Tidal also sets itself apart from the competition by launching programs intended to give artists direct payouts (from HiFi Plus users only).

Apple Music: Best Music Streaming Service For User Experience

apple music

Apple Music is improving year on year, becoming an increasingly enticing option, with its 90 million songs, 30,000 playlists, and Apple user-friendly interface. Whilst having such a substantial library, they offer fantastic music discovery, whether that’s through recommendations, personalized playlists, or Beats 1 Radio, which is their 24/7 digital radio station.

  • Pricing: Starts at $4.99 a month (student) and keeps climbing from $9.99 a month (individual), to $14.99 a month (family) and $99.99 (annual).
  • Features: Sound quality: Various. Lossless Audio’s available. Spatial Audio’s available (this is Apple’s 3D sound effect feature).
  • Pros: Great interface, price and availability, enormous music catalog, Lossless and Spatial audio, can integrate personal music, easy music discovery, offline listening, Apple Music Connect, and Beats 1 Radio.
  • Cons: Works best with Apple devices, podcasts in a separate app, no free ad-supported version, Spotify is better for music recommendations.

In more detail…

Up until now, Apple Music and Spotify have been neck and neck. However, Apple now offers Lossless and Spatial audio with support for Dolby Atmos. Some suggest this makes them a worthy winner. You’ll be able to make the most of these benefits, and Apple Music as a whole, if you’re tied into the Apple ecosystem. For instance, Siri works seamlessly with the streaming service and you’ll be able to enjoy head-tracked Spatial audio with Apple’s newer AirPods.

Spotify: The Most Popular Streaming Service

spotify music

Spotify is the biggest streaming service out there, with more than 365 active monthly users, but does that make it the best? When it comes to high-fidelity, Spotify is certainly not your best bet, with streaming quality restricted. The streaming giant promised that it’d offer CD-quality audio before the end of 2021, but there’s still no sign of it.

  • Pricing: Spotify has a decent selection of payment plans, including a free tier with ads, a standard monthly plan, as well as plans for two people ($12.99/mth), households ($15.99/mth for up to 6 people) and students ($4.99/mth).
  • Features: Sound quality is capped at 128kbps with the web player and around 160kbps on desktop and mobile. 80 million songs. 4 million podcasts.
  • Pros: Vast music collection, easy-to-use, free tier available, extensive discovery features, personalized playlists, great compatibility and cross-platform integration, solid music-sharing experience.
  • Cons: No high-res or lossless audio yet, not amazing for compensating artists (some have abandoned the service as a result), not available in all countries, a lot of ads in the free tier.

In more detail…

Despite Spotify’s drawbacks, it’s incredibly easy to use and its discoverability features and personalised playlists are unmatched. Spotify also leads the field when it comes to cross-platform integration, partnering with the likes of Sonos and Sky Q. On top of this, the fact they offer podcasts, and so many of them, in a pleasing and easy-to-discover manner, is certainly a huge benefit.

Just as a side note, if you’re an artist looking to get your music noticed on Spotify, knowing how to get your music featured in playlists could be just what you need.

Amazon Music: Best Music Streaming Service For Prime Users

amazon music

Amazon Music Unlimited only launched in September 2019, making it a very new competitor. Despite this, it has grown in popularity, especially among audiophiles and Prime subscribers, and now boasts more than 55 million users. Whilst it’s not essential to be a Prime member to use and enjoy Amazon Music, you can get it discounted at $7.99/month. To listen to lossless audio at this price is certainly a steal.

  • Pricing: Free trial available but no free ad tier plan on offer. Price: $9.99/month, $15/month (family tier), $14.99/month (Music HD).
  • Features: Sound Quality: 320kbps, CD quality, 24-bit/96kHz High Res. 3D audio: Dolby Atmos, 360 Reality Audio.
  • Pros: Discount for Prime subscribers, an extensive selection of music, hi-res audio, easy-to-use, family plan available, affordable, good compatibility, Lossless and Spatial audio.
  • Cons: Not a great interface, no ad-supported free-tier model, music discovery could be better, no video content, lacking podcasts.

In more detail…

Amazon Music’s compatibility is also rather notable. For instance, this streaming service can link up to Fire tablets and TVs, as well as some in-car systems and audio products, including Amazon Echo and Sonos speakers. What’s more, Amazon Music HD has good Alexa integration, making this streaming service all the more worthwhile if you’re tied into the Amazon ecosystem.

Where this service falls down is its user experience. For instance, it has a slightly unpolished user interface which is not as slick and easy to use as some of its rivals. Equally, its music discovery could certainly be better, lacking the personalized auto-generated playlists we see with the likes of Spotify. Finally, Amazon lacks podcast content, so if you’re into listening to podcasts, or looking to start a podcast, this might not be for you.

Soundcloud GO+: Best For Discovering Up-And-Coming Talents

soundcloud

Soundcloud stands out as it’s a platform that focuses on the smaller independent artists. They have excellent music discovery features, recommending stations and tracks to your taste. Anyone can upload a track to Soundcloud in a matter of minutes, unlike other major streaming services. This is extremely helpful for finding lesser-known music or listening to DJ mixes. However, this ultimately has its drawbacks as well.

  • Pricing: Offer a free tier with ads and a free trial for a month. Soundcloud Go goes for $4.99 a month, which includes offline listening and ads. Or you can upgrade to Go+, which offers the same benefits as Go, as well as high-quality audio and access to Soundcloud’s entire library of songs for $9.99 a month. No shared plans are available.
  • Features: Audio quality: 256Kbits/sec – 320Kbits/sec. 150 million tracks.
  • Pros: Download music with a click of a button, exceptional discovery and ability to listen to lesser-known artists, user-friendly interface, free-tier with ads available, artists have a lot of control over their tracks, recommends stations and tracks to your tastes, a platform for uploading DJ mixes or live gigs, streaming services geared towards electronic music, vast music library.
  • Cons: Missing some of the biggest artists, most of the tracks are user-uploaded, searching for a song can be very confusing and unorganized, no albums on Soundcloud.

In more detail…

Whilst there are 150 million tracks on Soundcloud, which is an astonishing amount, around 120 million are user-uploaded. This means that there could be a substantial amount of user-uploaded content you have to sift through. This can make searching for a song a confusing mess. Equally, whilst Soundcloud promises high quality, a track can still be low-quality if a user has uploaded a track of lower quality.

That said, it still has a friendly user interface and has some unique features, for example being able to download tracks with a click of a button. This service may also suit certain people more than others. For instance, Soundcloud is very geared towards electronic music, with the ability to upload and listen to DJ mixes, as well as being able to link your Soundcloud to DJ apps. So if you’re a DJ, or looking to become a DJ, this one could be for you.

Which Music Streaming Service is Best For You?

Fortunately, all of these are excellent for music streaming, so whichever you choose, you shouldn’t feel like you’re missing out. They also all boast very similar music libraries and features. For instance, they all have some form of music discovery and all allow streaming from multiple devices.

That said, our overall winner is Tidal. Whilst it’s been a strong contender for a number of years, its latest affordable plan, which includes lossless audio, bumps this streaming service up to the top spot. Some honorable mentions, which weren’t included in this article, include Deezer, Qobuz, Youtube Music, and Google Play Music.

Ultimately, however, it’s all down to you, and what you feel matters the most. This could either be affordability, audio quality, podcasts, music discovery, library size, user interface, compatibility, integration, or even DJ mixes. If you’re still undecided, all of the services mentioned either include a free trial or a free ad-supported tier, so you can go try them out to get a feel for them.

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