Spotify vs Beats Music vs Slacker vs Rdio vs Google Play Music: On-demand streaming music service showdown!

Spotify vs Beats Music vs Slacker vs Rdio vs Google Play Music: Streaming music service showdown!

Looking for the best streaming music service for your iPhone, iPod, or iPad? Here's your ultimate Spotify vs Beats Music vs Rdio vs Slacker vs Google Play Music showdown!

On-demand music streaming services are made for the hardcore music lovers and audiophiles. Not only should they get to know our tastes and preferences over time, on-demand services are also tasked with letting us have more control over what we listen to, when we listen to it. Streaming radio may be fine for some but if you want to listen to an entire album all the way through or be able to play music offline, you want on-demand streaming.

Spotify, Rdio, Beats Music, Google Play All Access, and Slacker are the best on-demand services currently available with full iPhone support. Now the question becomes, which one is the best if any? And more importantly, which one is right for you?

I'm going to preface this by saying that I only looked at true on-demand streaming services for this comparison. That means services like iTunes Radio, Pandora, and Songza can't be compared since they don't support offline playback of any kind. I'll take a look at those services in another comparison.

Quick comparison

Service Monthly price Desktop apps Web app Offline storage Sports channels Comedy channels Regional availability Audio quality
Beats Music $9.99 No Yes Unlimited No No US only 320kbps
Google Play All Access $9.99 No Yes Unlimited No Yes 21 countries 320kbps
Rdio $9.99 Mac, Windows Yes Unlimited No No 51 countries 192kbps
Slacker $3.99-$9.99 No Yes Unlimited Yes Yes US & Canada 128kbps
Spotify $9.99 Mac, Windows Yes 10,000 songs per account No No 55 countries 320kbps

The above chart isn't meant to cover all points but it gives you a fairly good idea of what you can expect with each service at a quick glance. I only compared what you get as a paying subscriber. Free offerings vary from time to time and from service to service so I saw little value in comparing them. If you want on-demand streaming, you're most likely going to pay for it.

Design

Streaming music services compared: Spotify vs Beats Music vs Slacker vs Rdio vs Google Play Music!

When it comes to design, none of them are created equal. I'll start off with the two apps I take issue with. First is Slacker. The layout is confusing at times and the tiles used to represent stations are cheesy. If you can get past that, the actual song information screens aren't terrible. It's just getting there that makes your eyes bleed. Second is Spotify. I've just never been okay with making lime green a themed color. Buttons are also overly large and create a lot of wasted space. The layout has gotten better over time but the design is still not very appealing. Play Music will be familiar to anyone who has used any other Google app for iOS. And if you like that style, you'll like Play Music. If you don't, you won't.

That leaves Beats Music and Rdio. Beats Music is easy on the eyes and makes good use of darker colors. This makes it rather enjoyable to use in the dark even if your screen brightness isn't all the way down. Navigation also makes sense and it easy for anyone to just pick up and use. Rdio is designed equally as well but very different. It exuded iOS 7 before iOS 7 even existed. They may have taken a little longer than I would have liked to update basic design elements like the keyboard, but I dealt with it mainly becasue the design was already so great.

Rdio does design better than the rest with a gorgeous yet simple design that has controls that are smart and intuitive. What more could you ask for?

Offline listening

Streaming music services compared: Spotify vs Beats Music vs Slacker vs Rdio vs Google Play Music!

All five services feature offline listening options. Where they differ is how they restrict those options. All are on an even playing field in regards to price as you'll need the highest offerings to have access to it. Slacker's $3.99 plan lets you store playlists but not specific albums and tracks. For that, you need the $9.99 version.

When it comes to limitations, all services but Spotify give you unlimited offline downloads. As long as you've got the storage space, you can keep downloading albums and tracks as long as you're a paying subscriber. Spotify however taps you at 10,000 songs per account. If you have the max of 3 devices on your plan, that's 3,333 songs each. That doesn't sound like a bad deal if you're only mobile, but what about on your Mac or PC? That may become an issue if you want to build a solid collection.

Play Music pulls ahead as on top of unlimited downloads, you can also upload up to 20,000 songs (300MB limit each) to your own storage locker at no additional cost. That means you save device storage space and can either stream that music or download what you want on demand. It's very similar to how iTunes Match works.

When it comes to offline listening, Play Music All Access wins.

Curation

If you like to listen to playlists created for you in radio style, curation is super important. You don't want New Kids on the Block randomly thrown into a playlist based on Black Sabbath. In my time with all four services, I've found that Slacker doesn't have a ton to choose from, especially when you get into more obscure genres. I also didn't find that disliking tracks kept them completely away. Unfortunately I had some of the same results with Spotify when it came to preferences. They had a much better selection of stations but there were songs thrown in that I felt were out of place. I also didn't feel like they were particularly catered to my tastes even though I'd given the service an ample amount of data to go off.

Rdio does a decent job with curation but it took a while to get there. Since Rdio has been one of my personal choices for a long time, I've spent the most time with it. It took a good month or so before I felt as if Rdio really started to cater to my tastes and even then, it still mixed up dance and electronic music regularly. For that I just gave up and started curating my own playlists. Play Music never wants to give me good recommendations. It took me adding several things to my library before it would even suggest anything. That to me was a turnoff.

Last but definitely not least is Beats Music. Given how new the service is, I've been blown away by how good the curation is. In less than 2 weeks, Beats Music gets me. Every time I launch it I can't wait to see what playlists it has picked out just for me.

Beats Music wins the curation war, hands down.

Specialty stations

Streaming music services compared: Spotify vs Beats Music vs Slacker vs Rdio vs Google Play Music!

Comedy and sports is the one thing Slacker does exceptionally well. None of the others hold a candle to it. Honestly, it's what Slacker does best. Spotify supposedly has a service called Comedify but I couldn't find much on it. I'll give it a point for that but I couldn't find any radio offerings, which is what most people want. Play Music has a comedy genre but again, Slacker does better.

If you want comedy or sports, there's only Slacker.

Catalog size and selection

Streaming music services compared: Spotify vs Beats Music vs Slacker vs Rdio vs Google Play Music!

None of the services in this comparison give exact numbers but some do give roundabout figures. Some of this probably has to do with licensing in different countries. Each service as of this writing claims the follow when it comes to the size of their song library:

  • Spotify - 20 million
  • Beats Music - 20 million
  • Rdio - 20 million
  • Play Music - 18 million
  • Slacker - 13 million

One other thing you have to consider is whether or not a service has the music you actually listen to. I have a hard time finding a reason to use Spotify while our own Richard Devine swears by it due to the music he prefers. For example, Spotify has Metallica, Rdio and other services do not.

Even though you should check into catalog selection before you make a final decision, it's a pretty close war between Beats Music, Spotify, and Rdio. Spotify gets the win by a slight margin due to some of their exclusive deals.

Availability

Streaming music services compared: Spotify vs Beats Music vs Slacker vs Rdio vs Google Play Music!

In terms of availability, Rdio and Spotify are available in the largest amount of countries. Rdio comes in just under Spotify but by a very narrow margin. You can hit the links below to see complete lists of countries on each respective site. Slacker and Beats Music both have very limited audiences. While Beats may expand that over time, Slacker probably won't at this point. Beats Music is US only and Slacker is only available in the US and Canada. Play Music does a lot better at over 20 countries, but still doesn't touch Rdio and Spotify.

Tie between Rdio and Spotify.

Pricing

If we're talking true on-demand, pricing is a wash since all three services offer the same exact thing. $9.99 per month. That includes offline listening and complete control over what you listen to and when you listen to it. All services offer free web streaming and some content via their mobile apps without paying, but if you've read this far, you already know that's not what you're after. You can however get away with $3.99 through Slacker if you're okay with just on demand playlists and not whole albums and specific songs.

Slacker gets the win for having a cheaper scaled down version of on-demand. But if you want no compromises, you'll pay the same across all five services.

Which one deserves your cash?

Unfortunately, no one service is the clear winner. They each kick ass in some ways and frustrate in others. So, which is best for you will depend on what's most important to you. Here's the breakdown:

  • Slacker: The best options for sports and comedy, poor sound quality isn't great.
  • Rdio: Best experience, international availability, okay sound quality isn't great.
  • Spotify: International availability, exclusive rights with certain artists, and good sound quality,
  • Google Play Music: Combines music locker storage and all the Google things in one place and good sound quality,
  • Beats Music: Best for playlist and music discovery, good sound quality,

Figure out what's most important to you, what frustrations you can live with, and then you'll know which is the best streaming music service for you.

What service did you pick?

Now that we've given you some data to think about, be sure to hop in the comments and let us know what service, if any, you went with. What ultimately brought you to that decision? And does any of the above information have you contemplating switching streaming music services? Be sure to let us know that too!

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

More Posts

 

0
loading...
0
loading...
151
loading...
0
loading...

← Previously

Injustice players get free credits, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and whole DC cast get battered better than ever!

Next up →

Apple continues medical hires, could their ambitions go beyond the iWatch?

There are 145 comments. Add yours.

sjsterling says:

Allison, I'm a user of streaming services, but no expert. So why in your opinion do Pandora and iTunes Radio not even merit consideration?

corsa180 says:

Pandora and iTunes Radio are not "on demand" services -- you can't choose a specific song or album to listen to in them.

sjsterling says:

ahh, ok. I didn't know that's what "on-demand" meant. I'd love one service that blends Rdio's on-demand with iTunes Radio-type streaming.

hgaedke says:

I use Spotify and it offers both. You can also create stations which you can optimize over time. The Android App for spotify is a bit better then the iOS one though.

Posted via the Android iMore App!

draztikrhymez says:

All the services reviewed here allow On-Demand with Radio station like streaming. I use Google All Access myself since I had it when I was on Android. Spotify would be a good test since they have a free option now yet it doesn't allow offline saving and you have to shuffle play all on-demand choices.

mjcostajr says:

She mentioned she only reviewed true on demand services. You can't choose which songs you want to hear on iTunes Radio, Pandora, etc.

Sent from the iMore App

stale_bread says:

Probably because Pandora falls into a different category. Pandora only does internet radio, you cannot save for offline or choose songs to listen to on demand.

androidfan1x says:

Her name is spelled Allyson.

ljbmusic1 says:

The article mentions that the writer did not review Pandora or itunes Radio because they are not true on demand services and they do not allow offline play of music.

ericdomond says:

Where did the stat that Rdio uses 128kbps come from? Because I'm pretty sure they're 320kbps.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

That was actually a typo, going to fix it. But they aren't 320 from what I can find online. Rdio does not openly discuss their bit rate. All I could find was people saying it was less than 256 when they tested it. It should have said unknown. I can definitely tell a difference with good headphones between Spotify/Beats Music and Rdio, not in Rdio's favor, so I would have a hard time believing it's 320.

Sorry for the typo in the chart though, fixing it now.

ericdomond says:

Curious. I had a friend of mine who manages a network check out usage while streaming from Rdio and he was getting ~320kbps. Not having access to Spotify, I can't say anything about that. But I do notice differences between stuff I buy off of iTunes (256kbps) and Rdio. I always figured it was because Rdio streamed MP3 vs. iTunes' AAC.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I think you're right on the MP3 vs AAC. I just know online I've seen lots of bashing of Rdio's compression rate. If someone can provide solid data I'll update but they don't give data like the others do.

Sent from the iMore App

cmorticum says:

Liberal use of the word 'typo'. I think if you write '128kb' and you later realized it should have said 'unknown', that wasn't a typo, it was called a 'mistake'. I know nowadays nobody likes to use these sorts of negative words, but then maybe these nobodies should invent a new word, instead of using one that already has a meaning which is not the same as 'mistake''s.

But thanks a lot for the great comparison!

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Actually it was a typo. I removed lines from the chart, added and deleted services many times. I mixed up an entire line. I caught most of it before flipping it live but the bit rates were a little funny. Someone pointed it out rather quickly, I still missed one. I had N/A for Rdio previously as they never disclosed their bit rate but as you can tell from the comments above, someone else found it a few days later, and I updated.

As a side note - if you check out my profile page and many comments I've left back and forth with our readers, I have zero problem admitting when I make a mistake. Many readers (and staff) around here could tell you I'm extremely receptive to constructive criticism and/or feedback. What I'm not receptive to is someone judging my character.

Thank you for the kind words at the end though. Those are always appreciated.

Rieanne Redder says:

I am reviewing comments on offline playing so I can make an appropriate decision. I LOVE THE RESPONSE YOU GAVE TO THE NEGATIVE REPLY. It shows great finesse and reveals your spiritual nature to an extent. What a beautiful and empowered woman you are. It set me back to think about my own responses when my character has been attacked. DEFINITELY, you've made an impact on me and the way I will choose to respond from this point on. Thanks Allyson & God bless you. - rieann;
For those who wonder:
www.merriam-webster.com/.../finesse
*skill and cleverness that is shown in the way someone deals with a situation, problem, etc.*

Rieanne Redder says:

I am reviewing comments on offline playing so I can make an appropriate decision. I LOVE THE RESPONSE YOU GAVE TO THE NEGATIVE REPLY. It shows great finesse and reveals your spiritual nature to an extent. What a beautiful and empowered woman you are. It set me back to think about my own responses when my character has been attacked. DEFINITELY, you've made an impact on me and the way I will choose to respond from this point on. Thanks Allyson & God bless you. - rieann;
For those who wonder:
www.merriam-webster.com/.../finesse
*skill and cleverness that is shown in the way someone deals with a situation, problem, etc.*

corsa180 says:

MOG is my favorite out of all of them, but of course it is being phased out on April 15th for Beats. I've been enjoying the Beats trial so far, but there are several things in MOG I'm going to miss that Beats doesn't have (hopefully I can add "yet" to that.)

xcsdm says:

Ally, can you add details about family pricing? They're all equal for one user, but I know a few of them have family options (or AT&T family pricing for Beats Music). $14.99 for 5 users is fantastic. Rdio also has family discounts.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

They've all changed the details in the past so it's more for us to keep up with. I figure one user pricing gives people an idea. And honestly, it's always within $3 of each other for monthly. I just didn't want to throw too much data out and it be out of date as fast as i wrote it, if that makes sense.

urandrod says:

Ally, great article. Well done. I am a Spotify user. But I love what Songza can serve up quickly with music. I wish the two merged. Anyway, I started using Beats for their 7 day trial and It got confusing to me. I just wish there was a service with an easy to use interface that can allow me to do two things: have it play a playlist based on my needs (like concierge in Songza does) and have an easy to use service that allows me to play music on demand. Spotify is closest to that, but still lacks for me.

sladyrko says:

In my country (Bulgaria) only Spotify is available for less than 2 months.. But since they made it "FREE" it's horrible to listen to it if you don't pay for premium.. After every 1 or 2 songs there are 1 minute ads.. I've used Rdio with Vpn, and I think i like it more.. Music library is bigger. Hope they come here soon.. At least Web is free and there are not so much ads like Spotify.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I didn't forget it, I've just never thought it was one of the best available. Obviously opinions vary. It's not one very many of our readers ever ask about either.

onix7cv says:

I'm also a Raphsody user. If anyone wants to compare just read this, but it's probably not the best one out there.

I enjoy these features for $15/mo:
*Unlimited downloads to 3 mobile devices and 3 computers (My wife, my daughter, and me)
*Unlimited streaming from any browser on any computer
*The iOS7 app works GREAT on both iPhone and iPad and it's very nice as well

CONS:
-No curation that I know of
-Windows 7 PC version always crashes and it's ugly, but who really needs music on their computer now-a-days?

Randal Schwartz says:

No curation? They've got the best curation in the business. Long articles about each genre and band. Many "genre stations". Many "similar artists" that actually make sense. I've often wished the other services would catch up with Rhapsody.

James Furn1 says:

Been using Spotify since more or less the start for mobile use only,not found a reason to migrate to others yet,with iTunes and the likes of YouTube as well I've all bases covered.

Sent from the iMore App

GlennRuss says:

I really like beats. I will test an app by searching for non mainstream artist. Beats has a good selection. I just wish they would address the battery issue.

Sent from the iMore App

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I have the battery issue too. And my phone gets hot.

Sent from the iMore App

stteve says:

In another iMore forum thread and in their own support forum, Beats reps have said they are aware of the battery issue and will be submitting an update soon. Hopefully the update comes before their big Super Bowl ad.

I prefer Beats over the others. Spotify doesn't allow you to have a library or collection, just play lists. Rdio has a great app, but the sound quality is not as good as Spotify or Beats.

As for family plans, the $15 buck Beats family plan on AT&T allows 5 users. Not a bad deal for families. Spotify doesn't offer a family plan and Rdio's $17.99 family plan only includes 2 users.

Great comparison.

_alf says:

I thought it was just my iphone, I hope this issue gets resolved soon.

The battery was getting eaten up too, even over wifi.

Also thanks for replying to the comments, i dont believe ive ever seen as many replies by staff.

humbertog says:

No love for Grooveshark? I know there is only a mobile version from cydia (you need to jailbreak) but there is a html5 version for the iPhone, what I like about Grooveshark is that you can find almost any song, even obscure songs

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Including a jailbreak only app wouldn't be logical. I only took into consideration apps that actually have support for iPhone.

Sent from the iMore App

humbertog says:

It is a shame that Apple removed Grooveshark from the App Store, BTW great review!

sangs says:

As an AT&T family of music lovers with much different tastes - I mainly like classic rock/80's-90s/alternative, wife likes classical/easy listening, son enjoys hip hop and daughter swoons over her boy bands/female divas - we've been playing with Beats since it announced the AT&T family plan. I'm pretty sure that once our free 90-day trial is up, we'll be sticking with it. I like it much better than I ever liked Spotify and it's moved ahead of the Rdio in the short time I've been using it as well. They really seem to have something good going with Beats and the AT&T family price is the icing on the proverbial cake.

icauselaughter says:

I happily pay Rdio $9.99/mo. The couple things I don't like about it are minimal.

counterculture says:

Another great review! After the launch of Beats Music (and your excellent review of it) I've pretty much switched over from Spotify. Although my free subscription isn't up yet (I think I have like 6 days left) I'll more than likely be opting-in for the $9.99/month subscription. I LOVE the interface and like you said the curation is top-notch, especially for new app. I honestly wasn't expecting much seeing as I HATE their headphones (just seem silly and a fad to me, and I'm apart of the younger crowd they cater to haha) but their app has simply blown me away. I'm going to utilize Spotify's free mobile service in par with Beats Music, but hopefully we will get a native desktop app from the team to make me fully convert. I can't necessarily get behind Google Play due to lack of functionality when "matching" my music (they generally get album artwork wrong, and most of my music, though purchased from the iTunes Store is only uploaded). I get that they are a new service but I'll have to check back with them later. I do like their UI though. Again, great review!

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I hate Beats headphones too. Bose all the way. But glad you like the service. Only thing I want them to add is more radio type discover options. I know sentence and genre options do this but I just want easier more obvious radio options. Then it'd be perfect.

Sent from the iMore App

counterculture says:

Ahhh agreed. I think the sentence option is pretty awesome though. Definitely a cooler option to discovering new music.

Random side note: do you know how to work the volume controls?? I see that there is the wheel (white, transparent color) inside of the now-playing wheel (pink circle) but I can't change the volume unless I use my iPhone's volume up/down switches. Or maybe I'm just missing something..

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I think it's just a reference. Not a control.

Sent from the iMore App

Johnny Sanchez says:

Allyson,

I believe in music curation- this has more to do with the type of music you have rather than what can be offered to you. I have over 11k sings from 55 genres. Most of my music is excellent with dance leading the pack of great mixes because all my songs are hits. I don't have duds or album cuts. Maybe that works for you but for most people, what makes radio and music a better experience is the hit music from a genre. Play music is where I use to create instant mixes that really pop and never disappoint.

Your thoughts?

counterculture says:

Well then what's the fun in discovery? I agree that radio will allow a larger audience to all jam out to the "hottest" tracks of the time, but curation is just a great way to not only discover new music based on your already awesome mix of "hits". So why not give it a try, you may be able to create an even more awesome playlist to pop more since it will have music that most people may or may not have heard.

Plus, who doesn't want to be that guy who can say "I liked ______ before they were popular.." :-p

joemazza says:

Good review. I'm a Spotify user and have been trying Beats. The curation is good though, with heavy listening it's gotten repetitive and stopped 'getting me' about 7 days in. One feature I don't see really mentioned that, for me, puts Spotify ahead is the ability to add local files and sync them to mobile. So, anything not in the catalog but owned on my computer can be part of my Spotify library. I know Google Play has that but I don't believe Beats or Rdio do.

cmorticum says:

The integration-your-own-collection feature is huge. It's one reason many people moved to Spotify.

Travisimo says:

Thanks for the article. I've been using Spotify for quite some time, but I'm currently thinking of switching to Beats. Here are my impressions of Spotify vs Beats on my iPhone 5S:

- Spotify has been my "go to" streaming service because it seems to have the best catalog, and seems to get new releases very quickly. I also like the desktop app and the ability to find a plethora of playlists on just about anything you want.

- In my extensive time with the Beats Music app since it launch, I've had mixed results, but I'm still thinking of switching from Spotify to Beats. First of all, the initial few days with Beats Music was a disaster: the app would constantly reset itself and there were plenty of connection errors. Those have all been correctly quickly, thankfully. They did the right think by limiting new signups in order to straighten out these issues.

- Secondly, as a few others have mentioned, the Beats app seems to have heavy CPU and/or network drain. The phone gets hot and the battery drains quickly when streaming music. I'm not sure if it's the decompression of the music, the DRM, or just something amiss in the app's coding. But nonetheless, it doesn't happen with Spotify and it's something they would need to correct before I could make the full switch.

- The app's interface is awesome, imo. It's smooth as butter, organized very well, and visually appealing. Spotify's interface on iOS is serviceable, but not at all appealing. Spotify still runs well, but it doesn't feel as intuitive as Beats nor as organized. I like how Beats handles the Likes, the playlists, and the library.

- The curation on Beats Music is awesome. I've never found Spotify to be good at this at all, so I've usually relied on other services or user playlists for curation. However, the Beats app is definitely surprising how quickly it picks up my interests and curated playlists based on artists I like and genre's I listen to. It seems very modern and personalized. Definitely the best feature of the service, perhaps even a "killer feature".

- Sound quality seems very similar on both apps, although the default playback volume on Beats is noticeably quicker. So I need to turn up the master volume on my phone or Bluetooth device to get a good listening volume with Beats. I don't know if this is just an equalization issue within the app or if it's Beats' library just having a lower normalized sound level? At any rate, I'd prefer it if the Beats default volume was a bit louder. Both apps do a very good job of starting to play immediately, though this wasn't the case at first with Beats. But since they've worked out the connection issues, music starts right away and I've had no issues with cutting out of buffering.

- Family Plans. Alas, neither of these services have a family plan that I can use. I'm not on AT&T, so the exclusive deal with Beats is a real bummer. Spotify has said for the last year or two that they were going to introduce family plans, but they have yet to do so. Right now, my wife and kids all use Spotify with me, and they have they own playlists. But any type of personalization is ruined when sharing one account with your family. Like Netflix's profiles, these services really need to offer family plans across the board. $15/mo for 5 accounts seems very reasonable.

That's my take! If the few nitpicks with Beats get taken care of, it will probably become my new pick. Until then, Spotify is rock solid.

cmorticum says:

Agree with family plans. When you buy a CD, anyone can borrow it. When you pay for streaming, nobody can borrow it (unless you give out your account details, which would be silly). I'm pretty sure $15 for 5 accounts is NOT reasonable, though. I think something like $20 for 3 or 4 accounts is. That's the cost of two cheap CDs per month. Not bad!

weberm13 says:

I keep downloading Beats, I want it to be good. The app is gorgeous, especially when compared to the pile of steaming dog crap that is Spotify.

I've used all the others, but it's always been between Rdio and Spotify for me. I keep switching. I don't care for Rdio's app that much, but it is better than Spotify, at least in design. The best part about Spotify's app is that ability to swipe the album art back and forth to go between tracks. That's something I miss when I'm using another music app, even the stock one on the iPhone.

I think I'm going to give Beats another chance, and try giving it some playlists. My only worry is longevity, since it's so new. Will it still be around in a year? IDK.

nasellok says:

Xbox music should be on this list - cross platform support - I use it on my PC, Windows 8 tablet, Ipad, and Android phone. Ive never come across a song that was not available, it offers free streaming for PC users (I think there is a cap per month, but still), good sound quality, it syncs all of my personal music, and I can now download for offline playback on my Android phone and ipad.

ericesque says:

The now defunct Zune Pass music service was superior to Xbox Music, which speaks as to why Xbox Music didn't make the list.

WixosTrix says:

That is not true. The Zune desktop software was and still better than the Windows 8 Xbox Music app, but as a service, Xbox Music has far more content, available in more markets, and accessible from way more devices.

Brandon StLaurent says:

I understand there are a few features missing from xbox music that zune had, but there is nothing wrong with xbox musics service. As the other reply to you said Xbox Music has far more content, available in more markets, and accessible from way more devices.

Xbox music is a great service.

Erving Velez says:

I agree

Sent from the iMore App

brock_star666 says:

I use Rdio primarily and the free version of Play to fill in any gap in the artist catalog that Rdio has.

Jazzkevin says:

Rhapsody is still my number one choice; wish they were included in this article. Slacker, Spotify, and Beats are all great and have their pros and cons. The UI on Rhapsody is more user friendly and their iPad app is great too. I liked Slacker for listening offline and customization. Their on demand music seems to be a bit limited that others. I agree, the sound quality isn't the best. Spotify is nice, but not enough for me to switch - especially with free listening (with ads) on the iPad app. Now Beats might make me switch. I have a 90 day free trial with it so it'll allow me some time to decide. Google Music is alright, but doesn't really stand out compared to others.

ztaccardi says:

Google Music is the only service that lets you upload your own mp3s. So even if they don't have the song you're looking for, you can upload it yourself.

For all those people that like remixes and electronic music, Google music is the only way to go.

Plus Chromecast integration!

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I believe Spotify does too

Sent from the iMore App

CamKids Charity says:

Certainly does. Available for offline use as well, but not via 3rd party services, such as Sonos. Upload all of the tracks my son produces with no problem.

kilcher says:

If you're doing the free trial of Beats and you're with AT&T be weary of their 3 month "free" trial extension. It's hidden in the fine print but if you agree to it then the $9.99 monthly fee will automatically be billed to your AT&T account once your trial is up.

jake3_14 says:

If it was hidden in January, it's not in May. I got a text message that clearly stated the continuing charge after the 90-day trial.

manutd7 says:

I locked in Google Play at the $7.99/month price last (2013) June. It was really annoying for those 4 months of not having an iOS app but it has paid off since then. The app works very well and the design/UX is good. I wish their curation was on par with Pandora, but it is better than my experience with Spotify.

Aguaski says:

I am one of the few people that began a Google Play Music All Access subscription when the service originally rolled out last May at the introductory rate of $7.99/month. If I recall correctly you had to be a subscriber before June 30th to lock in the introductory rate. I suffered through poor 3rd party apps for many months until Google finally released an official app late last year. I did this so that I could keep the introductory rate of $7.99. Now that I have an official Google app I can say I love the service, especially at my price of $7.99/month. I also have Chromecast which integrates flawlessly with the Google app on my iPhone and iPad. The Google Music app also has Airplay support on my Apple TV but Chromecast makes for a fantastic music experience in the living room. If you are fortunate enough to have the $7.99 pricing, and you have a Chromecast dongle, then Google Play Music All Access is hands down the best music service.

Sent from the iMore App

Derrick4Real says:

I've used beats during this trial. It's the best service i've used. The suggestions are better than the other services i've used. It's better than free services like Pandora. The catalogue is deficient when it comes to non mainstream artists. But I've liked it more than other services i've tried.That said, when the trial ends i'm done. I'd rather play my own content for free.

dnimtz#IM says:

Can't believe most of you like the Beats UI so much. Although I do like the navigational aspects, I absolutely hate the "now playing" screen with that annoying huge circular overlay which nearly completely blocks the album/song artwork.

The other thing I really hope Beats adds is radio concept. Streaming as a radio station vs. a set playlist is something they are really missing. After all I like to be able to select a genre and listen to a more random set of tracks vs. having the same playlist each time. Am I missing something?

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Sentence and genre are broader. You're right though. I want more of a radio feature in Beats too. It's one thing that keeps me using songza or iTunes Radio

Sent from the iMore App

swhaley1231 says:

I have been a Spotify Premium subscriber since the beginning. I love it!

richard451 says:

No mention of offline music for beats? It seems like a big omission since it does have it

Allyson Kazmucha says:

All these services do, hence this being an on demand roundup. If it didn't, it wouldn't have even been included.

Sent from the iMore App

richard451 says:

Then why wasn't beats music included in the offline comparison? The choices went from 5 to 4 and beats wasn't even mentioned

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Just a typo. Should've said 5 not 4. I only called out ones that have restrictions. Aka Spotify.

alextsaicn says:

Rdio used to be my favorite, but I switched to Spotify afterwards, because it has the songs that are not available on Rdio

GlennRuss says:

According to a post on iMore forums, a person stating they were from beats, said they are working on a fix for the battery issue. They did not go into detail what the problem is, but are aware of it. Hope there is a fix soon.

Sent from the iMore App

steviet02 says:

I'd like to see a mix of internet radio and online music streaming. I'm tired of having to have multiple streaming services that do roughly the same think but not exactly. In my case I'd like to see some of the TuneIn functionality merged into a Beats or Spotify application so I don't have to switch apps when wanting to listen to either talk radio or music.

GlennRuss says:

Originally Posted by Zoe from Beats

Hey y'all - our team has a fix on the way for this. Thank you all for your posts & for being Beats Music listeners, we appreciate your interest & feedback very much as we work to make Beats Music more awesome.

Here is the post from the forums the original title "Battery dead after listening to beats music????"

Sent from the iMore App

khl says:

Thank you for the useful and very well-written article. I like how you showed the quick summary chart and then explained the important features in detail.

schmegs says:

My favorite Rdio feature is the "remote control" that lets you control the playback device from another device. I have my iPhone with Rdio on it in a speaker dock most of the time, and I keep the web page open in a browser tab on my computer to control the playback. Very cool.

I've been an Rdio user for a while now, and it works well for my listening habits -- I like to listen to entire albums, so I'm not big on playlists & "stations." I do like Rdio's weekly New Music playlist for discovering new releases, though.

CamKids Charity says:

Invest in Sonos and it will blow your mind! The Sonos Iphone and iPad App UI's are beautiful. Can even add tracks playing on Spotify to your Spotify playlists straight from the App. Never fails to impress visitors.

David Smart1 says:

agree...and how Rdio manages your album collection is good. This is the main reason I switched from Spotify.

SyedAli1218 says:

Very good review. This might sound a little weird but what the wallpaper you have on your phone in the title image? The green and blue gradient one. Could you possibly share a link? Thanks

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Here you go:

http://www.iphonehdwallpapers.net/wp-content/cache/de9a6eb8d287c3487696c12728b19c70_w325_h576_sc.jpg

asuperstarr says:

Wow! What a nice comparison. Great job Allison.

Sent from the iMore App

dc9super80 says:

I have recently stopped all my subscriptions and returned to itunes. I Dont listen to the greatest variety of music, I tend to stick to my favorite albums. I hate spotify's icon and UI, Play Music doesn't seem to download playlists properly, I have to keep the app active etc, Rdio doesn't have good quality, I can hear the difference, Deezer (not mentioned here) has a terrible app. Only spotify has a desktop app and I need that, but I hate it for other reasons. So I will be buying my !music for a while.

CamKids Charity says:

Cancelling a subscription because you dislike the icon. Hmmm, a true music lover!

dc9super80 says:

Yeh I know right. LOL. Nah, actually the main reason is that Spotify library is a bit lacking in my country. Overall I think they are the best of the lot.

But I am truly obsessive about things like icons. I don´t know why.. LOL

CrzyP says:

I like the Beats UI and did enjoy it at first. After some use, it's just not for me. I listen to music that doesn't usually hit the mainstream radio waves. Beats curates music that I've heard on the radio a thousand times and not what I'm actually feeling like listening to. Plus it's a battery hog!

Sent from the iMore App

CrzyP says:

I also forgot to mention that I find Spotify's library is more friendly to us listeners that don't really listen to mainstream music.

Sent from the iMore App

Brady KEITH says:

google play music; free storage "sold" me. i gave up the early adopter rate for all access though...regretting it.

Jay_B_II says:

Slacker has been the choice for me of a while now. I love the fact that you can make your own stations picking whatever artists you want. Once created you can then fine tune things like song popularity, artist discovery, and age of the songs. I have not found another service with that level of station creation ability and until I find one I'm sticking with Slacker.

zdn1042 says:

Great job, Allyson! This would really come in handy to those still undecided which streaming music services to subscribed to.

Erik Donohoo says:

Rdio actually offers student discounts and you get the full service for $4.99

Max_Freedom says:

Slacker is my pick.
It variety and sound quality is great, whatever the bitrate.
Soundcloud is amazing, though it wasn't included.

Max_Freedom says:

Google Play Music is infuriating.
It randomly excludes songs from albums that I've uploaded, no matter how careful I am with the tagging.

Francisco Sumohano Chibras says:

Well, although technically google play music doesn't have a desktop program, it does have a chrome extension and a "web page" that, when you are subscribe, works just like the mobile app, but in dekstop.

TonyHove says:

I use Rdio because it's the only one available in my region.

Posted via the iMore App!

CamKids Charity says:

One of the most important considerations for me is integration with other systems, eg Sonos. I have been a Spotify premium user in the UK for years (since it was introduced) and this was one of the key requirements. I also think that you need to look at the history of development of all of these products. Spotify were the first with offline listening, being able to upload your own tracks etc. The others are mostly followers. Spotify is not perfect, by any means (ditch the annoying 3 user offline limit!), but is the most innovative - if you like, the Apple of streaming services! I predict a rationalisation of services, over time, as products will not be able to survive on low subscription rates for long (other than Google, who will cross-subsidise) and I think that SpotiFy will be one of the survivors. I would like to see more industry-wide work to conform standards so that, for example, you can move seamlessly from listening to Spotify on your Sonos system, to your car via Bluetooth (eg Mini, BMW at the moment) and then offline on your iPhone. It is nearly there, but requires further harmonisation of standards (eg works perfectly in my BMW Mini but not my BMW X5 - work that one out!).

wamadden4 says:

Been a subscriber for Spotify since day one... Love it! Only way to go!

mssaucedo0301 says:

I have been using Beats Music and Spotify as well as Google Music. I have always liked Spotify but after testing Beats Music I prefer the way beats suggests playlists to me and the way it organizes my collection. Unfortunately the data speed in my area is rather slow so I usually have to stick to an app that can still stream well at slow speeds. Does anyone have any experience with the music streaming apps and which one is better with handling slower connections without the endless buffer?

Sent from the iMore App

Connor Mason says:

Great article! Unfortunately though, the only one I'd consider at this point is Google Play Music because I already have 16,000 songs uploaded. With that many songs, I've had no reason to keep my All Access subscription

Erving Velez says:

You are missing Xbox Music, Music Unlimited and Rhapsody.

Sent from the iMore App

Brandon StLaurent says:

Indeed they did. I want to see the info on those in comparison.

Danny8200 says:

There's way too many streaming services to choose from. I've tried several of these including Slacker, Spotify Premium, Google Play All Access, Rdio, and now Beats and a few others not on this review along with the radio streaming apps like Songza and Pandora.

For me Songza will stick around since it's only a few bucks a month and great for music discovery.

Now Beats is really growing on me. I'm impressed with the suggestions that pop up in the "just for you" section. It picks up your tastes quick and does a pretty good job. Really thinking about sticking with it once my trial is over which is in a couple of days. There's several bugs that have to be fixed such as the battery issue and the random crashes.

Beats Music - On demand streaming.
Songza - music discovery.

I'll continue using Spotify with their free ad supported offering.

Sent from the iMore App

zynk says:

I have a dark horse candidate to add to this list: Sony Music Unlimited (www.munlimited.com). It's also $9.99/mo for full access (Playstation Plus subscribers can often get it for less). It has a web client but no dedicated desktop client. There's an iOS and Android mobile app. They also offer a dedicated app on PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Sony Bravia TVs, Sony Smart TVs, and Sony Xperia phones (Android). I couldn't find their library size -- just says millions -- but they seem to have a decent library. Also offline and streaming music is 320kbps AAC.

RavenSword says:

I'm wondering if rdios bitrate is a deal breaker or not. I mean, when other services offer better nitrates at the same price, it makes them look dumb for having lower bitrates.

If they could get there bitrates to. 329, the service would be pretty perfect. As it stands, I'm kinda lamenting my 10 dollars spent on it. But I don't own high quality headphones, so maybe it's not a big deal?

Allyson Kazmucha says:

You won't hear a huge difference unless you have good headphones.

Geoff Curtis says:

Is Beats the only one with a family plan? And they don't have a desktop version...will that be coming?

I can's stand the fact that in Rhapsody, only one person can be listening at a time...

chirmer says:

In my experience, I loved Rdio when I was just using the Apple earpods for listening. I invested in some V-MODAs, though, and Rdio was SEVERELY lacking. Ended up switching to Spotify, had a brief fling with Google Play All Access, but glitchy iPhone playback landed me back in Spotify. The bitrate is a total dealbreaker with decent headphones, and downright awful with good ones.

Garry_W says:

What about Microsoft's Xbox music service?

Sent from the iMore App

Brandon StLaurent says:

I would like this to be in the article as well. It's silly that this was ignored.

unclekyle says:

I've paid for Spotify, Rdio, Google Play, and now I've signed up for Beats. All of them have advantages but none of have the complete package. Loved spotify's playlists that I could subscribe to. Rdio had the best design, and Google play let me load my music and worked great offline. I love Beats design and it could win me over if they fix some bugs. Wish it was easier to upload playlists but none of the services probably want that to happen.

Vitaliy Kopytyuk says:

Didn't read the whole article, but what do you think is the best?

rubiconreader says:

I had Rhapsody for years and now I use Google. One of the (few) things that I didn't like about Rhapsody was that, while you were allowed to listen on your iOS device and computer at the same time, it would stop your music to tell you that someone else was using it. My wife commutes to work and I listen at work. If she logged on with her iPhone I wasn't able to listen on my computer at the same time.

So I got Google as a test to see how it was. I ended up keeping Google while still letting her keep Rhapsody. One thing that I have noticed as a weakness for Rhapsody, Google, and iRadio is their comedy section. The "songs" repeat way too much and it's extremely annoying. And I'm talking daily. And it doesn't matter which comedianne radio I choose either. Anthony Jeselnick gets the same "songs" as "Greg Geraldo".

It's almost like they don't put a lot of effort in switching up the comedy because it's not a big draw. I'm just speculating but I can't see why they boast 18-20 million songs yet have the nerve to repeat the same songs, sometimes in the same hour. The sound is good as well.

Also, Rhapsody and Google will allow you to play music all night while iRadio will ask you "are you still listening?" First world annoying when I use music to fall asleep. I don't want to wake up at 3AM and have to press "yes I'm still listening". Of course if you have a beefy playlist then that won't be a problem, but I like variety in my night time music. Out of the three (iRadio, Rhapsody, Google) that I use I find that Rhapsody has a better selection of radio stations from which to choose. And they are better at choosing songs for it.

When I put on BabyFace I actually get BabyFace. When I choose BabyFace in the others I get R&B but not BabyFace-esqe music. Again, first world but still annoying. All in all my main choice for music is Google. They could have a better layout for iOS 7 but I'm pleased.

tysartor says:

downloaded Beats this morning, toyed with it for 10 minutes, then deleted it.... spotify

suitcasejohnny says:

I've been using Slacker Radio for a while. I admit the interface is a bit confusing, but once you get used to it, it's not that bad. I really don't find the audio quality to be that bad. I find it fine for streaming music around the house, and while I'm at work.

Richard Durishin says:

I think you should also have looked at Songza. I am using that right now along with Nokia Mix radio (awesome) and Beats Music.

I would also add that baud rate is not the complete story on audio quality. Not all of these guys use the same codec - and it can make a difference to the discerning listener. Mog (predecessor to Beats) always shined there. I do not know if Beats Music uses the same codec that Mog employed, I honestly haven't listened to it enough.

stuhFAN says:

Songza does not offer on-demand music, so it's not included.

stuhFAN says:

I'm late to the party so this comment might get buried, but I think it's worth discussing the social merits of these services. Rdio, for example, is great for following people & seeing what others are listening to. I'm not overly familiar with what the other services offer in terms of social, and I doubt lack of social features would be a deal breaker for most people, but I think it's worth comparing.

Giancarlo Maza says:

The one thing i enjoy most about spotify is that you can create a "radio station" out of a single song, album or playlist. Beats is new to me but i'm noticing for instance if i go to an artist and i go to the song section, i'll choose a song and after that song is up it wont play the next song, or it wont shuffle among the song list. Spotify is good at this.

sidboswell says:

I am sold on Rdio, I tried all the free trials (you forgot MOG in your review) and settled on them (before Beats was available). The cross device play queue (not really a playlist as it's dynamic) is awesome. I'm usually at my desk in the office or at home and using Rdio or other recommendations (last.fm) I fill my "Play Later" queue up with albums, organize them by genre (e.g. jass, then funk, then regge, then something else), then using my phone or tablet from the kitchen play music all over the house (via airplay). No one else has this "Play Later" queue. I would like better sound quality and have considered a switch to Beats, but really need the cross device capabilities before I make a move.

ljbmusic1 says:

Interesting that you did not mention Rhapsody the one that started it all....lol

ljbmusic1 says:

I have tried all of these music services including Rhapsody for 10 years before anyone ever heard of on demand music. The audio quality from all these services are the same to my ears.I currently use Rdio which is the most like Rhapsody with a better interface and web software player.Their mobile app is excellent however it may be a bit slow for Spotify users or those who like instant gratification.I have also used Slacker a lot but their mobile droid app is full of errors which never get fixed.The plus service does not include custom playlists just those made by Slacker DJs. Of all these services the one which I dislike the most is Spotify.I believe it is the most popular because of Facebook and the first to offer free music.None of these services make much money because of the music labels/industry so enjoy them while they last.For most casual music listeners their will be FM radio and Pandora/iTunes.

tdc720 says:

Most of these services that offer saving for offline playing need to have the option to save to the SD card. You can use up most of your phone storage space very quickly. Streaming is not always available for the frequent subway rider. And if you have Verizon's limited data plan you could suck up up a good amount of data. My Note 3 has a 64GB SD card. I'll stick to transferring my own music over. I still have a Zune Pass. I will stick with that until it's phased out.

xMIxDDSB says:

Google Play Music allows you to your SD on mobile. Not to mention you can share your All-Access account to up to 10 devices. 10. Just let that sink in.

Todd Collichio says:

That's awesome! Was that feature just added? It was the reason I cancelled my All Access account a couple of months back.Thank you for your input.

Mad Strings says:

Probably won't get a response, but what about Sony's Music Unlimited and Xbox Music which have apps on the App Store? How do they compare with these services?

Brandon StLaurent says:

Seriously though... Why would you do a great write up like this and miss a large chunk of the competition?

We need an updated article with both of those. Xbox music is fantastic and deserves some recognition.

Tommy Wands says:

I love the. Beats app. You can listen to comedy also. When searching for artists you type in the name of a comedian and as long as they have recorded an album or cd most of the time it's available for listening.

Nicole Roman says:

I think Spotify is the best out of all the services. I had a free trial for Rdio & Spotify & Beats Music. Rdio was annoying and didn't have a lot of the artists I listened to (R&B and Hip Hop). I don't know if they have updated, but I also didn't like how things were placed in the app. Spotify felt much better to use. It was user friendly and gave you the artists top songs, all of their songs. Beats Music was very good too. I think its a tie with Spotify. The only difference is that I could go to Target and buy a card to redeem instead of having my credit card info on file. Spotify's customer support is amazing too.

Alex Compton says:

I like Rdio for many reasons but mainly the UI, the album "Collection" options, the Family packages (1/$10, 2/$18, 3/$23... you CANNOT beat that), sharing options, "My Collection Radio," Remote Control, and NEW STUDENT DISCOUNT. Only $5 for full unlimited services?? Best thing ever. Rdio is untouchable.

Emily Durand-Linnell says:

I am new to all of this. I am a Verizon customer so I do not have unlimited data. One of the things that caused me to eat up so much of my data the first month I had my iPhone 5s was iTunes. So if I pay a monthly fee for this service like the beats radio, when I download a song or an album is it "on my phone, or iPad"? I mean when I listen to music from the beats service am I also streaming my data? I am trying to find a way to Listen to my music without getting a text from Verizon every other day telling me I have exceeded my data usage. I ended up with 10 gb last month between iTunes, YouTube and Netflix. I feel like I am a prisoner to my Cisco router. I can't do much of anything without her or I will end up broke! I hope my question is not to confusing or elementary.

Yours truly, desperate for some tunes I can afford

MikeG2 says:

I'm using GPMAA and extremely happy that support for Sonos was just added. The only major disappointment remaining for me at this point is the smaller catalog. A couple/few million songs (~18 vs. ~20 million) makes a big difference. GPMAA has big holes in it's catalog for some of my favorite artists like Jonn Serrie and collections like Hearts of Space. MOG's catalog was far more complete in these cases.

XBOX Music has a ways to go before it can be a viable challenger. For example, basic features like thumbs up/down are missing and cross-platform support (a big positive step) has only recently been added. This is probably why it didn't make Allyson Kazmucha's list. However, XBOX Music's catalog of ~30 million songs should be enough to earn honorable mention. What appears to be the most comprehensive catalog by far is enough for me to switch if Microsoft can add basic features other major services have and fix XBOX Music account problems that turned my 30-day trial into a 30-day troubleshooting session.

Zach Wagner says:

FYI Google Play is now claiming 20 mil for songs.

Richard Angeloni says:

I have been using Rhapsody for several years (seems like close to 10) and have been pretty happy with it. The one thing I don't like is it the limits (three devices per account). I also use Slacker Radio Plus but do not pay for the premiere service, so I cannot listen to specific artists. Still, I love the fact that I can download stations onto my phone for offline use.

Clarence Bauer says:

I am new to music streaming and found the article very useful. I am currently using both Rdio and Play. Both are very good. Since the article was written Rdio has upgraded their quality to 320. Rdio has better software in my opinion. It picks new music to my tastes better than play. So far I am leaning toward keeping Rdio.

jake3_14 says:

I didn't read through all the comments, so I hope I'm not duplicating another's post. The stated bitrate that Spotify supports for paid subscribers is deceptive. According to a recent test, only about 30% of Spotify music catalog has been transcoded to its highest bitrate. Spotify says it will transcode the remainder of its catalog "real soon," but that's what they said a year ago, too.
I think there is another article waiting here: a verifiable test of the stated bitrates.

ocostich says:

I recently started a trial of Google Play All Access, I liked it a lot until I discovered a deal breaker. It's certainly not "all access" from an app on an Android or IOS device. As an example put "lush life" (a song title) in the search bar on the app and it returns 10 albums and 10 songs. (It shows 6 albums and shows a button for "4 More"). Doing the same thing with Spotify or Beats and you get dozens of albums and hundreds of tracks. Try it from https://play.google.com/music/... website (where it finds 6 albums and a button for "see all") or using Sonos and you get everything. Clearly Google All Access has the content so why can't the Android or IOS app make it available? Why not replace the "4 more" with "Show All"? It's just a bad app design.

Since I want to be able to find and play music from a search when I am away from a computer, Google falls out of competition. If I want 320kps streaming, I guess I'm down to Beats or Spotify, both of which have serious queue management issues. Give me back my MOG.

dkizz213 says:

I'm pretty sure that Google Play has a desktop app

sistemanick says:

I find it baffling how all these reviews are missing a crucial flaw in "All Access" (comparing to Spotify) - that it's not really "All Access". There are still a lot of songs (many from very popular artists) that you have to buy first to listen.

PERCE_NEIGE says:

But why didn't you add the free services comparisons :((
You're wrong, it's interesting, even if it changesofthen, but I was reading your article for that!

Ray Jacobsen says:

Thanks for the article and discussion. I like Google Play music except the curation is neurotic and what's the point of "I'm feeling lucky" they (and any music service) STOP! I listen to a wide variety of music, they need "I'm in the mood for" then list a few top genres
I think there will be real market to whomever can deliver awesome audio, there is a rumor that Baboom.com will deliver music in the FLAC format, check out ponomusic.com for the buzz on FLAC.
There really needs some form of a benchmark(s), Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is getting kinda dated, then some audio engineer needs to compare the best source vs. what comes out of the stream.
With today's technology which delivers HD movies over the internet there should be a reasonably priced music service that provides "THE" highest quality music.