The summer holidays are here, and where once we would have been gathering our favourite CDs together ready for a long trip, many of us now favour the convenience of a music streaming service. But which service is best for bopping along on your lengthy car journey or recommending bangers as you bask by the pool?
A music streaming app on your smartphone or tablet is a great way to get your favourite songs while on the go, but in our recent survey we discovered that not all are made equal.
Here we take a look at what makes music streaming services sing, and what makes them fall flat. We also share tips for how to get the most from your music streaming service this summer.
Skip straight to the results of our survey to find out which are the best music streaming services.
How music streaming services ranked
We surveyed 1,649 Which? members to get star ratings and customer scores for six of the most popular services:
- Amazon Music Unlimited
- Amazon Prime Music
- Apple Music
- Google Play Music
And we asked people to tell us about their experiences with each of them, including:
- How easy they were to use
- The selection of content available
- Value for money
- The accuracy of recommendations
- How satisfied they were overall
- How likely they were to recommend the service to a friend
We combined all of this information to create an overall customer score, so you can easily learn which ones are worth your time and money.
At the top of the table, one streaming service scored an impressive 77%. The lowest-scoring service is clearly missing a beat, receiving a customer score of 59% – it’s still pretty good, but didn’t score more than three stars out of five for any measure.
We found that there were significant differences when it came to the value for money of streaming services. One brand scored four stars, while two services received just two stars for value, suggesting that you could be left wanting if you sign up.
A great feature of music streaming services is the ability to discover similar songs, artists and podcasts to the ones you love through recommendations. The more you use a streaming service, the more accurate the recommendations should get.
But how well do streaming services know their users? We asked Which? members to rate the accuracy of recommendations – and this is what we found:
|Brand||Accuracy of recommendations|
|Amazon Music Unlimited (94)||***|
|Amazon Prime Music (517)||***|
|Apple Music (188)||***|
|Google Play Music (47)||***|
Sample sizes in brackets. n/a means we didn’t get a large enough sample size to rate this.
All of the services scored three stars for the accuracy of recommendations. While this is good, it’s unlikely to offer much consolation if the app is so difficult to navigate, or if it doesn’t have the music or genre you actually want to listen to.
Music streaming services often have exclusive contracts with record labels, and some artists refuse to have their music featured on specific brand’s services – so you might find that you’re unable to listen to The Beatles’ material if you sign up to Deezer, for instance.
Check our full results to see which services excelled and ones which left customers feeling disappointed.
Summer holiday streaming
Nowadays, all you need to remember is your smartphone (and charger!) to access your favourite music when you’re away. But there are additional things you can do to get prepared and enjoy seamless streaming on your summer holiday.
Download before you go
All the streaming services we rated have a download feature, so you can listen to your favourite tunes while out and about without draining your data allowance – perfect for in the car, at the beach, or while your mobile is switched to aeroplane mode. It’s a good idea to download your favourite albums or playlists before you go and while connected to the wi-fi at home.
For some streaming services the download feature isn’t available for free users – if downloading music is important to you then check which package you need to unlock this feature. Two of the services we rated scored three stars for the availability of downloadable content, while the others scored four stars.
The perfect selection of music can make a journey feel like a breeze, or set the perfect relaxed mood for a sunny alfresco dinner. Organising your songs in to playlists makes it easy to find the music you’re in the mood for, and can save squabbling over which song to play next in the car.
Sign up for a family account
If you’ve got different taste in music to the rest of your holiday party, then signing up for a family account will let you all listen to your own choice of music – and save arguments. It will offer better value than single accounts for every person, but make sure you have the best noise cancelling headphones to avoid music clash, or disturbing others on the plane.