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Best music streaming services

By Hannah Walsh

Spotify or Apple Music? Deezer or Amazon Music Unlimited? We’ve rated the most popular music streaming services to help you choose.

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The best music streaming services will have you bopping away to your favourite tunes in a matter of minutes, and will quickly start recommending great new music for you to try.

But discovering that the music or content you want is difficult to find, can’t be downloaded, or simply isn’t available at all can quickly make you feel that your music streaming service isn’t offering you the value for money that you’d expect.

In fact, two of the services in our survey got just two stars for value for money, compared to the music streaming service that was top-of-the pops in the table, which was awarded four stars.

Only logged-in Which? members can see how music streaming services compare. If you're not yet a member, you can get instant access by joining Which?.

How customers rate music streaming services

To calculate customer scores and star ratings, we surveyed 1,649 Which? members who use at least one music streaming service. We asked them about their experiences, including the selection of music available, the ease of using the service (including searching for and downloading music), and how they would rate it for value for money.

We’ve rated all the biggest names, including Apple Music, Amazon, Deezer and Spotify.

Music streaming services rated
Brand Selection of music Accuracy of recommendations Ease of use Value for money Customer score
Spotify (693) ***** *** **** **** 77%
Amazon Music Unlimited (94) **** *** **** *** 71%
Deezer (41) **** n/a *** ** 70%
Apple Music (188) **** *** *** ** 67%
Google Play Music (47) **** *** *** *** 62%
Amazon Prime Music (517) *** *** *** *** 59%

We surveyed 1,649 people who use streaming services in June 2019. Sample sizes are in brackets. Customer score combines overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend. We need at least 30 responses to rate a service, n/a means that we didn't get enough responses to calculate a score.

Music streaming services rated
  Selection of music Accuracy of recommendations Ease of use Value for money Customer score
Spotify
Amazon Music Unlimited
Deezer
Apple Music
Google Play Music
Amazon Prime Music

Key

Member Content

 

Which music streaming services were in our survey? 

Here we take a look at the most popular streaming services. While each offers a range of pricing options, we’ve included the premium and family account prices here.

Amazon 

Amazon has two music streaming services to its name – the standalone Amazon Music Unlimited and Amazon Prime Music, which is included with a Prime subscription.

Amazon Music Unlimited

Free version available: yes

Premium subscription: £9.99 per month

Family account: £14.99 per month

Amazon Music Unlimited is available to both Prime and non-Prime members alike, although at different costs. Prime customers can sign up to Music Unlimited for £7.99 per month or £79 per year, on top of the cost of a Prime subscription – 49% of those we asked had added Music Unlimited on to their Prime subscription.

Non-Prime members will pay £9.99 per month for a premium subscription, and there’s also a subscription available for £3.99 that lets you use Music Unlimited on just one Amazon device – 16% of the people we surveyed had this package.

It has 50 million songs, plus playlists and radio stations, and you can listen to it on a smartphone, laptop, or via Amazon devices such as Fire TV and Amazon Echo. It doesn’t have adverts, and songs can be downloaded and listened to offline.

Amazon Prime Music

Free trial available

Prime music is included with a prime subscription at no extra cost. It has 2 million songs, rather than the 50 million of Music Unlimited. You can download music to listen to offline, and it doesn’t play adverts. An Amazon Prime subscription also comes with Prime Video, for watching series and films.

Apple Music

Free version available: yes

Individual subscription: £9.99 per month

Family account: £14.99 per month

Apple's own music streaming service is available through iTunes, which is automatically installed on iOS devices such as iPhones and Apple watches. Android users can also use Apple Music, but will need to download iTunes through the Play Store.

Paid users can stream songs and music videos ad-free, from a library of 50 million songs. You can download up to 100,000 songs to your library, for listening while offline, or upload them to iCloud. 

There's a round-the-clock radio station called 'Beats 1', featuring well-known DJs, and the For You section of Apple Music will be populated with recommendations. There's also a new music section, and you can follow your favourite bands or artists to receive alerts when new music is added, for example.

Other apps can integrate with Apple Music, for example the Nike app will suggest music for your workout and music-identifying app Shazam will automatically add the songs you discover to your Apple Music library. 

Deezer 

Free version available: yes

Premium account: £9.99 per month

Family account: £14.99 per month

Founded in France in 2007, Deezer allows users to listen to content from record labels such as Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. It has 53 million songs in the library, plus 30,000 radio channels. There are also 28 million hi-definition audio files.

As with other streaming services, users of the free version of Deezer will be played adverts between songs. You’ll also be limited to how many songs you can skip – up to six in an hour – and mobile users are only able to play music on ‘shuffle’ mode rather than in an order. Premium account users can skip songs to their heart’s content.

Speaking of hearts, one of the first steps after setting up a Deezer account is to ‘heart’ genres, artists or songs – these preferences will feed in to the songs you see in the different sections of the player including hear this, new releases and top playlists.

Google Play Music 

Free version available: yes

Single account: £9.99 per month

Family account: £14.99 per month

The free version of Play Music, Google’s music streaming service that was launched in 2011, lets you listen to and store up to 50,000 songs. Those with a free subscription can also purchase songs from Google’s catalogue, which can then be streamed or downloaded for offline listening.

With a paid subscription to Play Music, users have access to around 40 million songs. It also comes with access to YouTube Music Premium, for advert-free streaming, and downloading, of your favourite music videos. Sonos owners can play songs directly through their speaker.

The key sell for Google’s music streaming service is the ability to upload your own songs, by simply choosing ‘Upload music’ in the menu on the web player extension in Chrome, and dragging and dropping your chosen files from your computer. For those who don’t use Chrome, the Google Play Music manager can be downloaded to your desktop. This means that you can use it to digitise your CD collection, and keep all of your music in one place.

Spotify

Free version available: yes

Premium account: £9.99 per month

Family account: £14.99 per month

With more than 170 million users worldwide, Spotify is among the biggest names in the streaming world. As of 2018, there were over 30 million songs in the Spotify Library. 40% of people we surveyed had a £9.99 per month premium subscription, and 18% were signed up on a family account. 75% of users told us they use Spotify via an app on their smartphone or tablet, but some Bluetooth speakers now come with it built-in.

Using the app or a web browser, you can search for new music or content such as podcasts, and add these to your library or a particular playlist. Music is stored in your library, and can be organised in to playlists. Recommendations (for example new artists or similar playlists) are displayed on the home screen, including a release radar for the artists in your library and a “Discover weekly” playlist that’s updated every Monday with music Spotify thinks you’d like.

Premium accounts users can download music or content for listening while ‘offline’, meaning that you can listen without using any of your mobile data allowance. If you use Spotify for free, you can’t download music and will also hear an advert around every 15 minutes.

What else do I need to know about music streaming services? 

Find the right plan for you
Most streaming services have a few different subscription packages that you can sign up for, including a free version. If there will be a few of you listening, then a family subscription will offer better value than individual accounts. If you’re a student, then check whether the service offers a student discount.

Look for deals
Some services will include music streaming as an added bonus, so when you take out a new mobile phone, broadband or TV contract you will get it for free.

Check which artists and genres are available
One of the streaming services we rated got three stars for the selection of music – while this is good, it might leave you wanting more.

Some music streaming services have exclusive relationships with particular artists, for example Jay Z’s albums are only available on Tidal, so it’s worth checking that your favourite singer or band is available before signing up.

Some of the bands I like are not available

If you like a particular genre of music then it’s good to check what the choice is like – you can do this by signing up for a free trial. A common criticism of music streaming services from those we surveyed was the choice of classical music, with one respondent calling it ‘limited’ and another describing it as ‘very poor’.  

Streaming versus downloading
Streaming lets you listen to your favourite tracks instantly, online. But if you’re not connected to wi-fi, for example in the car or on the train to work, then it can eat in to your data allowance on your mobile phone contract.

Download facility is excellent, really useful for storing music in advance for train journeys where there is no mobile signal.

Streaming service packages that let you download songs, albums or podcasts enable you to listen to your content offline – so you save on your data, and can listen even if you have no signal. It’s a useful feature if you are flying and need to have your phone on airplane mode, too. It’s a good idea to download content while connected to wi-fi, to save on eating up your data allowance.

Create playlists
With such an array of songs available on all music streaming services, your main library can get cluttered easily. Use playlists to arrange your music, so that you can easily pick songs depending on the situation and your mood.

Pick the right device
Some Bluetooth speakers come with a music streaming app installed, although you’ll still need to pay for a subscription. Others can support certain streaming services, but not all. See our Best Buy wireless and Bluetooth speakers to find out which devices will support your chosen streaming service.

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