Streaming is now the most popular way to enjoy music, but you have to try different options for free before you choose the best value deal.
The number of songs played over the internet – streaming – jumped 34 percent last year to the equivalent of 91 million albums. It means that two-thirds of all the music we listen to now is being streamed.
The explosion is partly fueled by new technology: modern mobile phones, smart speakers and hi-fis that play music from the internet. With these devices you can choose from streamed music providers with Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music and Amazon Music Unlimited. Others who are worth considering are Deezer and Tidal.
The streaming jumped last year with 34 percent to the equivalent of 91 million albums
For newcomers to streaming is perhaps the best place to start signing up for a free service, such as those offered by Spotify or Deezer. With this you can try out the technology and get access to a maximum of 40 million songs without having to pay any money.
The disadvantage is that you have to refrain from occasionally placed advertisements that are broadcasted between music tracks. Some hi-fi equipment, such as Sonos, does not play music that is streamed through a simple free service.
If you are subsequently bitten by the streaming bug, the next step is to consider whether it might be worth paying for a subscription.
As soon as you embrace the streaming, the CD collection often lags behind to collect dust. For the price of a new CD per month – typically about £ 10 – you can sign up for a premium service that is offered by most streaming providers.
To justify this price increase, the ads are stopped and customers also get the chance to download their favorite songs for later listening – or when they are offline.
Moreover, the sound quality of the music should improve – because the amount of data used for playing music increases. You should also be able to play music on all stereo devices connected to the internet.
For about £ 10 you can sign up for a premium & # 39; service offered by most providers
First of all, personal taste and easy access when choosing a provider – the offered music libraries are comparable. A free trial version can help you choose.
Gennaro Castaldo, of the British Phonographic Industry, says: "Try out a few streaming services before deciding which is best for you. It costs nothing if you do a free trial offer. "Apple Music has a free trial period of three months, Spotify, Deezer, Google Play Music, Amazon Music Unlimited and Tidal usually only offer free 30-day trial periods.
Please note that if you do not cancel after a trial period, you will be charged for using the service. But cancel within the trial period and you can still use it for free until the offer ends.
Provider Tidal has a "HiFi" deal that costs £ 19.99 per month, twice as much as the premium service. The price increase is justified by a better quality & # 39; (better) sound that it claims to offer.
Sign up for a free one month trial to see if it's worth this extra cost.
Those in full-time education, such as at the university, enjoy a student discount of 50 percent with Apple Music or Spotify, each reducing the monthly amount to £ 4.99.
Family subscriptions can also be cheaper if several people in the same house enjoy connecting to online streaming, but have different tastes.
For example, a family of six can get Apple Music, Deezer Premium, Google Play Music and Amazon Music Unlimited for £ 14.99 per month. A family of five gets Spotify Premium for £ 14.99 per month. Paying a year in advance can also be cheaper. Apple Music subscription is £ 99.99 in advance for a year instead of £ 9.99 per month, so it offers a savings of £ 19.89.
If you are already a customer of Amazon Prime – signed up for a one-day delivery and video streaming service – a music service is included in the price.
This gives access to two million melodies. You have to pay another £ 7.99 per month for access to 50 million songs available under Music Unlimited – a £ 2 discount on the price charged to non-Prime customers.
Stuart Miles, founder of Technology Review website Pocket-ribbon, says: "Spotify is the big father of streaming and has been working on it for the longest time. But others, such as Amazon, are gaining a foothold on the market because their offer is focused on new technology such as smart speakers. & # 39;
He adds: & # 39; Apple Music is ideal if you trust iTunes and have an iPhone. But the only way to really find the best streaming service is to take advantage of free trials and test them out. & # 39;