How Apple's new music service stacks up to the competition

On Monday, Apple finally unveiled its long-awaited new streaming music service, marking its entrance into an already crowded and competitive field.

Here’s how it stacks up against the established popular music services:

Apple Music

What is Apple Music? We’re still learning ourselves! From what Apple said on Monday, the service is a combination internet radio and on-demand streaming music service. It launches on June 30.

There’s Beats 1, the live radio station curated by several DJs around the world. It’s available for anyone, even if you don’t pay for Apple’s new service. There are also radio stations that you help build and curate yourself, like Pandora: enter an artist, song, or album, and a station is built based on that preference. Apple has humans curating the songs for each station. It doesn’t rely on algorithms like competing services.

Finally, Apple added a feature called Connect that lets artists upload videos, photos, lyrics, or whatever else they want for fans to consume. It’s reminiscent of Apple’s defunct Ping social network that used to be part of iTunes.

Paying users get access to on-demand music and are able to play nearly any song at any time. They can also save music to their devices for offline listening.


$US9.99 per month for access to ad-free, on-demand music, after a free three-month trial. $US14.99 for a six-person family membership.


“Tens of millions,” Apple says. It will be close to what you can already purchase in iTunes with some exceptions.


Spotify is best known as being an ad-free on-demand streaming service, meaning that paying members can listen to almost any song (sorry Taylor Swift fans) at anytime, though it also offers Pandora-like Internet radio and also allows you to listen to files saved locally to your devices. You can also save songs to your devices to listen to offline, like if you’re on an aeroplane or commuting on a subway. Ahead of the Apple Music launch, Spotify beefed up its service, adding videos as well as curated playlists based on your listening preferences and specific times of the day. It’s also rolling out a feature that matches certain songs to your running tempo.


$US9.99 per month after a three-month trial for $US0.99. A free version of the service plays artists, albums, and playlists in shuffle mode and has ads. The service is available in dozens of countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Australia and New Zealand.


“Over 30 million” songs, Spotify says.



Pandora is a popular internet radio service, meaning you can’t choose a specific song that you want to listen to, like you can with on-demand services like Spotify and Apple Music. Instead, you create stations based on an artist, song, or genre, and Pandora analyses your choice to deliver a stream of music (or comedy) based on it. You can skip and pause tracks, but you can’t go back and listen to the same song over again.


Free, and includes advertisements, though people can also pay $US4.99 per month or $US54.89 per year to subscribe to Pandora One, an ad-free version of the service. It’s only available to listeners in the US, Australia, and New Zealand, and has 79 million monthly listeners.


About 2 million tracks from more than 150,000 artists



Best known as “Jay Z’s streaming music service,” Tidal is yet another competitor in the quickly crowding streaming music market. Think of it more like Spotify than Pandora: you choose what you want to listen to, when you want to listen to it, on-demand. What separates Tidal from the competition, according to Tidal, is a higher-quality music streaming option that costs double the monthly subscription fee. Like Spotify recently launched, the service also has a video section.


$US9.99 per month, with an option to pay $US19.99 per month for high-quality “lossless” audio. Available in 40 countries.


“Over 30 million tracks,” and several high-profile artists pledged exclusive music to the service recently. Jay Z started removing his own albums from Spotify, starting with his debut, “Reasonable Doubt.” That album is now available exclusively through Tidal.

Google Play Music

GoogleGoogle Play Music

Google Play Music is an on-demand streaming music service that, like Spotify, also has an Internet radio option. It integrates your local files so you can listen to them on-the-go. And it competes with Tidal and Spotify in the video department by offering early access to YouTube Music Key — an extension of YouTube for music videos, sans adverts. Also like the competition, Google Play Music has an offline listening option.


$US9.99 per month after a free 30-day trial. It’s available in 58 countries.


“More than 30 million songs.”



What happened to terrestrial radio? You know, the stuff that comes out of your grandma’s Philco? OK, ok — radio isn’t quite that antiquated just yet, but it’s not exactly an up-and-coming medium anymore. In adapting to our changing times, traditional, over-the-air radio has gone online: enter iHeartRadio. There’s no paid version of iHeartRadio, and the service largely functions as a means of listening to the hundreds of radio stations owned by parent company iHeartMedia (formerly known as Clear Channel Communications, AKA the company that owns the most radio stations in the United States).


Free, but you’ll listen to commercials.


iHeartRadio sits somewhere between Pandora and Spotify: the company says it has “over 20 million songs and 450,000 artists.” Unlike most of the other services, the service can only be accessed in three countries: the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

There’s more!

Services like Rdio, Rhapsody, and Deezer are all very similar to Spotify and Apple Music. They each have their own benefits and drawbacks, but still cost the same per month.

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