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

The best music streaming services dissected, tested and compared

Platinum-level streaming services

Songs and albums go platinum when they sell five million units. They're well on their way to the top, but clearly there's something stopping them from going all the way.

In our platinum-level music streaming choices, we found that each offered a great selection of music with one or two premium features that neither Spotify or Rdio offered. However, neither of them are free and while they sound wonderful, they both have a major caveat that makes it impossible to give them a full recommendation.

Google Play Music All Access

Best music streaming service

Update: We originally reported that there is no iOS version of the app and that Google Play doesn't offer a free trial. Both of those statements are factually true. It's worth pointing out, however, that the iOS app is limited to songs you own in your Google Play library and the "free" trial does require you to put in your credit card info or Paypal account. We apologize for the confusion.

Google Play Music All Access is the ideal companion for anyone who uses the Google Play Store on a daily basis. It has about as many songs at its disposal as its competitors (around 18 million at last count), but it allows listeners to use the service as a digital locker to upload and download songs to and from different devices.

Pros: Hooks into Google+, 18 million songs, digital locker, great for Android users

Cons: Limited iOS app, free trial requires credit card info or Paypal account

Bitrate: Sound quality peaks at 320Kbps (downloads are the same), although you can tell the difference between Google's MP3s and Sony's AACs

Cost: $10 (£10, AU$10) a month


Best music streaming service

Tidal is somewhat of the city on the hill in the world of music streaming. By pushing for fair and equal pay for musicians and high-quality 320Kbps FLAC files for every song in its library, Tidal and its new owner Jay Z are aiming to rewrite the music streaming script by having artists as owners. Beyond its expertly curated playlists, Tidal offers music videos and short articles that entertain and inform listeners about genres, artists, producers and studios. All that good stuff comes at a price, however. Tidal doesn't offer any tier of its service for free. Standard audio subscriptions start at $10 (£10, AU$15) a month, while the high-res collection opens up at $20 (£20, AU$24) a month.

Pros: Best curated content, no advertisements, 25 million songs, 75,000 music videos, high-fidelity music

Cons: Limited social network integration, most expensive music streaming service, new interface is crowded

Bitrate: 320Kbps lossless media

Cost: Tidal starts at $10 (£10, AU$15) a month for Tidal Premium, but high-fidelity music is only unlocked for Tidal HiFi subscribers which costs $20 (£20, AU$24) a month.