Spotify, Apple Music and more: which is the best music streaming service?

The best music streaming services dissected, tested and compared

Streaming music which service is best for you

Music streaming services are like sports teams: everyone has the squad they root for above all others. Whether you're a Pandora person, an iTunes devotee, a Spotify specialist or a Tidal lover, we all have one service that's close to our hearts.

But music streaming services, like all things, change over time. What do you do when that one feature you loved six months ago has been replaced to make room for a new, completely unwieldy user interface, causing all the friends you knew who used the service to pack and leave for greener pastures?

Well, one suggestion is throwing darts at a dartboard. But if you love tech, diving headfirst into the unknown - and possibly low-resolution - world of music software probably isn't your bag.

To help you decide, we've compiled the list of the best music streaming services on the planet in 2015. We've divided streaming services up into categories, from best (Diamond) to worst (Gold).

Diamond level streaming services

In the music industry, your record goes diamond when it reaches 10 million units sold. It may not sound like a lot in our day and age, when YouTube videos of cats get five million hits every single day, but a diamond record is pretty much the highest aspiration any musician can want out of their new tracks.

To meet TechRadar's diamond standard , streaming services must offer extremely high-quality music (320Kbps), give users the ability to choose their songs and provide a robust free version that gives users a good idea of what they're getting into before they start shelling out a subscription fee.

After extensive research on the subject, we only found two streaming services that fit the bill - Spotify and Rdio.


Best music streaming service

Despite how you feel about the company's ethics, Spotify continues to be one of the best ways to stream whatever music you want, whenever you want thanks to its massive 25 million song catalog and irresistibly low $0 price tag. Social integration with Facebook means you'll never miss what your friends are listening to while private listening mode makes it so they'll never find out about your late-night guilty pleasures.

Admittedly, Spotify's biggest problem is that if you don't know what you want to listen to, the service probably won't be much help. It has some really good curated playlists, but the radio stations leave a lot to be desired.

If you like what you hear on the free version, you can upgrade to Spotify Premium, which offers the same great music sans advertisements. You'll need to fork over $10/month (£10, AU$12) but it may be well worth it not to have your tunes interrupted by annoying commercials.

Pros: 25 million song catalog, universally available, free with ads, great social integration with Facebook, curated content, can upload any songs Spotify is missing, available on PS4 with PlayStation Music, offline listening

Cons: Artists aren't paid much, radio recommendations are sub-par

Bitrate: 96Kbps for low bandwidth connections, 160Kbps for desktop and "high quality" mobile streaming, and 320Kbps for the the high bitrate setting (desktop, iOS and Android)

Cost: Free with ads / $10 (£10, AU$12) a month for Spotify Premium

Apple Music

Best Music Streaming Services

Only Apple could announce a new streaming service a month in advance and, when it finally launches, goes to the head of the pack alongside Rdio and Spotify as one of the best music streaming services around. The service, called Apple Music, is a snappy mix of recommended content, curated playlists from former music journalists and an always-on radio station called Beats1. Best of all? It pulls from Apple's collection of 26 million songs.

It's edgy, pretentious even, but overall the product does what it claims and offers an impossible-to-pass-up three-month free trial.

Pros: 25 million song catalog, recommended content, expertly curated playlists, Beats1 Radio, insanely long three-month free trial, Connect social network is a fun way to stay connected with bands

Cons: Clunky interface, "My Music" section is a misnomer

Bitrate: 256Kbps in AAC

Cost: Free for three months / $10 (£10, AU$12) a month once your trial runs out.


Best music streaming service

It's hard to say anything bad about Rdio. Like Spotify, it's free to sign up and you'll never need to shell out a dollar if you don't mind listening to ads. It has roughly the same amount of songs (around 20 million), awesome social network integration via Facebook and Twitter, a plethora of curated content from friends and tastemakers, and a radio function that's actually worth using. Rdio also wins the award for best looking music streaming service as well as one of the easiest to navigate.

Pros: 20 million available songs, available on nine out 10 devices, smart-looking interface, great social integration with Facebook and Twitter, discovering new music is easy, offline listening

Cons: Not as big of a community as Spotify, smaller catalog overall

Bitrate: 192Kbps by default, but premium users can select 320Kbps

Cost: Free with ads / $10 (£10, AU$12) a month for all access pass

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