We list the best music streaming services that you can enjoy on your iPhone, Android or Windows Phone handset, from the great granddaddy Spotify to big rival Amazon Prime. Which music subscription offers the best features and value for money? Check it out.
Although you can buy almost any song imaginable via online retailers such as iTunes, anyone who wants true musical freedom on a stricter budget should subscribe to a mobile-based music streaming service. The latest streaming apps offer tens of millions of tunes, which you can dip into as often as you like, for just a few quid each month.
Here’s our round-up of our five favourite music apps, kicking off with the most famous...
Spotify (Offers free access, full mobile subscription for £10)
Spotify is the big, bad granddaddy of music streaming services, and now you can enjoy over 20 million tracks on your phone without paying a penny.
Yep, there’s a completely free mobile subscription option, a real rarity and a huge draw for skint music lovers who can browse Spotify’s database with no kind of time limit. Of course there are other limitations, the biggest being that you can’t select specific songs to play - only artists, genres, etc. But considering the cost, that’s still a great offering.
It’s a tenner a month for a Spotify Premium subscription, which gives you the ability to set up playlists and download songs for offline enjoyment. The best part of Spotify Premium is sharing playlists with your mates, but remember to remove your Kylie and Jason collection first, unless you enjoy constant ridicule.
Amazon Prime Music (Included with Amazon Prime subscription, £79 per year)
Amazon Prime now includes the Prime Music service at no extra cost, which makes it one of the cheaper subscription-based music streamers, even without taking into account the rest of the Prime package.
You can once again browse through tens of thousands of songs, streaming and downloading to your heart's content. There are 'stations' and playlists to help you discover new artists, or simply help you out if you're lacking inspiration. Amazon is constantly adding new albums to its colection, including most of the big (and less well-known) names that we searched for. The playlist feature isn't as solid as Spotify's, but this is still a decent service considering it's bundled with Prime.
Deezer (Free 15-day trial, subscription costs £5 per month)
Deezer is a straight-up rival to Spotify, and a solid all-round package. With over 30 million tracks to rock out to on the train, including plenty of obscure indie stuff, you shouldn’t be at a loss for stuff to play.
The app makes it easy to browse an artist’s work, set up playlists and get recommendations based on your listening habits, and there’s a selection of radio channels (which randomly select songs a la BloomFM) if you’re still struggling for inspiration. Right now you can check out Deezer’s Premium+ mode free for 15 days, then it’ll cost you a fiver each month for unlimited mobile streaming.
Oh, and if you're a Three Mobile customer, you can get six months of free Deezer right now. Check out the Three website for details.
Rdio (Free trial, subscription costs £10 per month)
With its slick presentation and user-friendly app, Rdio is a decent all-round package, even if it isn’t exactly revolutionary. You can create and share playlists using the 20 million songs, and cyber-stalk your mates to see what they’re playing. It’s a tenner a month to stream and download tracks on your mobile, but you can nab yourself a free trial when you sign up, to see if it’s right for you.
Napster (Free one-month trial, subscription costs £10 per month)
Now that Napster has gone legal, it's one of the most impressive music streaming services in the UK and a true rival to Spotify. The selection of tracks is seriously strong; we haven't struggled to find any of the artists we've searched for, be it little-known underground rappers from the 90s or the latest pirate metal bands. You can even download comedy shows from the likes of Stewart Lee and Monty Python, to liven up a dull commute.