Which Music Streaming Service Is For You?

Published on July 1, 2015

Listening to music is a personal experience. Whether you're showing off your vinyl collection to friends or screaming along the lyrics to "You Oughta Know" as you drive out of town, your music choices are a form of self-expression.

On that note, it's important that your music streaming service suits your lifestyle by supporting your storage, travel, and listening needs. Here are our picks for music streaming services, arranged by type of listener.

"Sometimes, I listen to music in the car, and by music, I mean whatever I still have on my iPod from college."

Turn down the Elliot Smith and introduce yourself to Spotify, a great streaming service for casual listeners. In 2011, Spotify landed in the US and has since undergone design and interface changes that make it very easy to use. Basic access is free, but if you can't deal with ads and want to select specific songs while using the Spotify app on mobile devices, you'll probably want to pay for premium services. It'll cost you $10/month, but Spotify does offer discounts to students. Our Chief, Jason Finn, has been a loyal Spotify Premium user for a couple of years now, and stars by it. 

You can also access playlists made by music publications and other users, making it a valuable service for those who like to follow instead of lead when it comes to music (and, don't worry, Elliot Smith is available on this service). Spotify Premium features practical and creative facets, making it a great place to go after finally letting go of the iPod. 

"I need to have all of my music on me at all times, and I am constantly looking for the latest good stuff."

If you consider yourself a music expert, you've probably already explored Google Play Music. But, this cloud-based system is constantly updated and has the truly exceptional scan-and-match feature that matches your current library with those songs already in the cloud, cutting down on upload times. Google Play Music is $10/month for the full range of services, but its free version features radio functions and automated playlists created by musicians and industry members. Its storage capabilities distinguish it from the pack.

"I have a song for every occasion and spend my weekends crafting playlists that tell a story. I can tell my entire life story through music."

If you believe that the internet playlist is an art form, you should be checking out Songza. According to Time:

The killer feature of this music recommendation site is its human-curated playlists based on mood, activity, genre, era and “situations” from breaking up to waking up and themes as specific as barbecues or pregame. In fact, Songza’s strictly about its playlists; you can’t search for particular songs or artists, although you can browse from a mind-boggling selection of soundtracks and musical vibes.

Songza ties together songs that you might not expect and definitely demands an attentive listener, and it asks for you to think of playlists in an artful, literary way (i.e. "What Rocky Was Actually Listening to While He Trained," "Kitchen Dance Party"), and could easily be worth purchasing the premium service for .99/week. Otherwise, you're stuck with the same kind of ads as the other streaming apps. If you're the kind of person who treats Netflix predictions like a horoscope, you're a great candidate for Songza. 

To stay up-to-date and in-the-know when new music technology emerges, subscribe to our newsletter!