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Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews. Read more…
There’s an abundance of streaming music services on the market to choose from, but which one is the best deal for your situation? We’ve gathered the most popular services and compared the prices in a few categories.
The cheapest streaming music service is the one you don’t have to pay for. If you don’t mind a few ads, there are several streaming music services that offer free tiers.
Spotify is one of the most popular streaming music services, and it has an ad-supported free tier. How many ads do you have to sit through? Some users have reported up to three 30-second ads in a row every three or four songs. There are other limitations with Spotify free, too.
RELATED: What Is Spotify, and Is It Free?
Pandora is another popular choice if you’re looking for a free music streaming service. The free plan is ad-supported—around four minutes of ads per hour—and you only can use the streaming “radio” feature.
The last “free” service we’ll mention isn’t technically free, but you may already have it. Amazon Music Prime is included with a Prime membership, and while it’s ad-free, it only offers two million songs. Amazon also has a completely free option, but it’s extremely limited.
RELATED: How to Stream Free Music with Amazon Prime
Setting the free options aside, streaming music services have mostly aligned themselves on pricing. For a single person, Amazon Music Unlimited (for non-Prime members), Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube Music all cost $10 per month.
Amazon Music Unlimited has a slight edge if you’re already a Prime member, as the price drops down to $9. And if you have an Amazon Echo device, you can sign up with your voice for only $5 per month. However, you are limited to using the service on only that Echo device.
Similarly, Apple offers the “Apple Music Voice” plan. For $5 per month, you have full access to Apple Music, but only through Siri-enabled devices. You can only use the service with Siri and your voice.
What if you want a streaming music subscription for multiple people? All the big names offer family plans as well, and they’ve also mostly aligned on the prices too. Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Pandora, Tidal, and YouTube Music all have family plans for $15 per month—Spotify is $16.
The services mentioned all support up to six family members. There are really no discernable differences between the family plans; it just comes down to which service you prefer. If you’re looking for the platform with the most songs, you’ll want to go with Apple Music.
Spotify has a multi-user plan that no other service offers called “Premium Duo.” It’s for two people—which is perfect for couples and friends—and only costs $13 per month. If six people is more than you need, the Duo plan is a nice choice.
RELATED: What Is Spotify Duo, and Is It Right for You?
Most of the popular music streaming services offer discounts to students. Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music offer $5 student plans, but Spotify has the best benefits.
In addition to the Spotify Premium subscription, the student plan includes access to Hulu (ad-supported) and Showtime. That puts the value of Spotify’s student plan around $28, which is a very good deal.
That’s the rundown on streaming music services and their pricing models. In a way, it’s nice that the popular services all cost about the same, but it does make it more difficult to save money if those prices aren’t good enough. If you’re industrious, you can make your own streaming music service.
RELATED: How to Create Your Own Music Streaming Service with Plex
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