Spotify vs Apple Music vs Tidal vs YouTube Music: Which one should you use?
16 Sep 2021
Is it better to spin tracks on Spotify, scroll deep into Apple Music, discover new sounds on YouTube Music, or jam out to Tidal? I’m reviewing all four music streaming options so that you can make sure you’re getting the most beats for your buck.
Let’s face it– life’s more fun with music. Thanks to music streaming, we have millions of songs at our fingertips. Every single day is your own personal party. And with music streaming apps, you pay a flat-rate monthly cost, and can stream as much ad-free music as you can handle, (so long as your data plan can keep up). It's paradise. But with so many music streaming services available, and all of them with comparable music library sizes, which one do you choose?
Right now, Spotify is by far the most popular music streaming service. In fact, it’s so popular that it’s becoming its very own verb. We don’t stream music anymore – we Spotify it. It’s like a good cheddar cheese – it keeps getting better with age. The best thing about Spotify would have to be how social it is. Music is like a great bottle of wine; it’s best enjoyed when shared - and the crew at Spotify know that. You can link your Spotify to your Facebook so that you can find and follow your friends, listen to their public playlists, or ping them your new favourite songs.
In fact, Spotify knows that music streaming is a collaborative experience, and they've introduced Family Mixes and Blends. A Family Mix is available to any family with a Premium Family account, and it mixes everyone's music tastes into one playlist—perfect for family car trips or pumping the tunes out on the wireless speakers at home. If you’re not on a family account, Blends are available to anyone with a premium account. Just share a link with a friend, and Spotify makes you a shared playlist that’s the perfect blend of your music tastes. Great quality of life features like collaborative listening sessions that let multiple people contribute to the music streaming queue as they listen in, even from afar, make using Spotify a no-brainer for anyone who loves streaming music with friends.
But it’s not just about sharing – Spotify really care about your musical journey. Every week, you get a personalised Discover Weekly playlist that includes 30 songs Spotify thinks you would dig based on what you’ve played lately or what your friends like. Plus, your daily mixes, up to five playlists made for you and frequently refreshing that each capture a different vibe of your music listening style.
Add in the massive stack of curated playlists that are updated with new songs every week, so you’ll always have new tracks, and you’ll never run out of new tunes. The Concerts Feed is by far my favourite feature. You’ll never miss a gig again because it gives you a list of upcoming concerts based on your tastes and location - yass queen! And, when you follow your favourite artists, Spotify keeps you in the loop with their new releases. You’ll get a notification every time they drop a new track. Plus, they’ve got auto and video podcasts for your listening and watching pleasure –so what’s not to love about it?
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How Much is Spotify Premium?
Spotify premium costs AU$11.95/month, but that’s not the only option. In fact, you can listen to Spotify for free. That’s right; if you’re ok with listening to ads every now, as well as some listening limitations (limited number of skips, shuffle-only listening, and no offline listening), you can stream music for free with Spotify.
In fact, it’s one of the best free music apps if you’re not ready to commit to a premium subscription and if you want to try before you buy. If you’re ready to commit to Spotify premium costs, you still have some options. Get together with the fam for Spotify premium family, costing AU$17.95/month for up to five different accounts so you can split the bill and save! If you’re wondering how much is Spotify Premium family per person, that brings it down to only $3.50 each! Or couple up with your partner or bestie and split the AU$15.99/month. Or, if you’re a student, you can save moolah on your own with Spotify premium for students, only AU$5.99/month.
Apple Music is trying really hard to cut Spotify’s grass, and I have to hand it to them – in my opinion, they’re doing a pretty good job. They signed up 10 million listeners in six months, while it took Spotify six years to reach numbers like that. For iTunes users, Apple Music is perfection. It integrates your existing iTunes collection, so none of your music or carefully curated playlists are lost. Apple Music learns your tastes and recommends fresh artists and playlists in the For You section. Speaking of playlists, Apple’s are on point.
Curated by guests and Apple staff, their huge collection ranges from the everyday listening to the completely obscure. Whether you want to work out like Beyoncé or listen to Turkish Psychedelic Folk Songs, there’s something for everyone. My favourite feature of Apple music would have to be their live radio station, Beats 1. It features shows hosted by some absolute legends in the music industry, from Dr Dre to Josh Homme. The exclusives and interviews are unmissable. One area where Apple Music doesn’t deliver, I think, is a quality social feature – it’s much less connected than Spotify. The Apple Music Connect feature is also a little disappointing. It’s designed to be a mashup of Twitter and SoundCloud, a space for musicians to share songs, thoughts, and exclusives directly with their fans. This would be great… if artists were actually using it.
What does Apple Music cost?
Apple Music costs AU$11.99/month for individual premium users, same as Spotify but with no free tier. Families and students can still save, with the family Apple Music subscription cost landing at AU$17.99/month and Apple Music student at AU$5.99/month. The similar prices are what makes the Spotify vs Apple Music rivalry so fierce. The Spotify and Apple Music cost is the same, so it just comes down to preference.
YouTube Music (previously Google Play Music) is actually pretty good. In typical Google style, it’s super functional. I’d go so far as saying that it’s the most user-friendly service out of all the music streaming apps. Searching for your favourite artists and albums and creating your own playlists is a piece of cake. YouTube Music does a little bit of the hard work for you – it personalises your account from the moment you sign up by asking for your favourite jams and genres. They start recommending you music from there.
The best thing about YouTube Music would have to be the playlist and stations function, and it’s damn good. They also have a huge range of playlists, some of which are very niche–Ambient Scandinavian Stargazing, anyone? Of course, YouTube Music is fully integrated with YouTube, which is awesome. While you’re listening to an album or track, you’ll be given the link to the music video so you can watch and listen in unison. That’s pretty cool. Plus, you can load up to 50,000 of your own songs onto your account; all you have to do is drag and drop them into your Chrome browser. Too easy!
What does YouTube Music premium cost?
YouTube Music Premium costs AU$11.99/month, and the family plan costs AU$17.99/month for up to six family members. Just like Spotify Premium for students, YouTube Music Premium for students is only AU$5.99/month.
Tidal positions itself as the best music streaming app in terms of sound quality, and they’re not wrong. Opting for the Tidal HiFi subscription means you can enjoy super high-quality audio. Lossless audio, high bitrate audio files, Sony 360 Reality Audio, and Dolby Atmos Music.
If you don’t know what most of those terms mean, then your decision just became a lot easier—you probably don’t need to consider Tidal. But if you’re more than just a casual music listener and you love to hear the details of each song you listen to, Tidal could be the music streaming app for you. If you’ve already got the great headphones to get the most out of your music, the price of Tidal could be worth it for audio quality. Speaking of price…
What’s the price of Tidal?
Tidal premium costs AU$11.99/month, Tidal HiFi costs AU$17.99/month, and Tidal HiFi Plus costs AU$23.99/month. Premium gives you full access to Tidal’s library, but HiFi or HiFi Plus is essential for those crisp sounds. Keen music aficionados will be looking at HiFi or HiFi Plus. Tidal Family Premium costs AU$17.99/month and includes up to 6 family members, though it only includes the standard sound quality included in standard premium subscriptions. Students are in luck again, though! Tidal Student Premium costs AU$5.99 a month, Tidal Student HiFi tier costs AU$8.99/month, and Tidal Student HiFi Plus costs AU$11.99/month.
So what’s the verdict on the best music streaming service? Well, much like music taste, your choice of streaming service boils down to individual preference. You’ve gotta choose the best music app for your lifestyle. Fortunately, you can sample each of them to see which one works best for you, as they all have a free trial period. (Just remember to cancel before the auto-renew!). Happy listening!