Free Music Showdown: Which Gives You $ 0 on Top Streaming Services

Much to Taylor Swift’s chagrin, music streaming subscriptions are getting cheaper and cheaper these days. Now that Google has joined the ranks of free streaming services , we decided to take a look and see which ones offer the best features. Here are the main differences and which service is best for which type of user.

We’ve talked a lot about the best streaming music subscriptions over the years, and there are a lot of them . However, we want to take a look at the free ones. Services that allow you to immerse yourself in music right away without paying a dime (sorry Taylor). This list is by no means exhaustive, but here’s how some of the best free music services fit together.

Spotify: For Picky Desktop Users Who Don’t Mind Small Ads

Key Features:

  • Listen to ad-supported music on your PC, web and tablets
  • Streaming over the phone at random

Main disadvantages:

  • No control over playback order on phones
  • No offline listening
  • No high quality sound

Spotify has long been the gold standard for music subscriptions, but its free tier deserves a little love, too. Without paying a dime, you can stream the music of your choice from the internet, desktop player, or even to your tablets . Sometimes you get an ad you can’t miss, but otherwise it’s in your hands.

When it comes to mobile devices, this is a slightly different story. If you are a free user, you can only listen to your playlists in random order with a limited number of skips. You also can’t listen to music offline, so if you have an unreliable internet connection on your phone, Spotify may not be for you. Even without a collection of its own, Spotify offers more free features than any other service.

Google Play: for music collectors from radio with bonus ads

Key Features:

  • Upload your music
  • Buy individual albums and songs to add to your library
  • Upload your music for offline playback
  • Advertising radio stations

Main disadvantages:

  • No music library outside of radio stations
  • Mobile advertising is terrible

Google recently announced a new free tier for its subscription, which allows users to listen to ad-supported radio stations . However, Google has a few more tricks up its sleeve: Play Music has a music locker that lets you upload up to 50,000 of your own songs . Whether you pay for a subscription or not, you can listen to these songs in any order, on any device, and even download them for offline playback on your mobile device.

The Free Tier also lets you listen to Google curated radio stations , which are an extension of the Songza service that the company acquired last year. Subscribers could listen to these radio stations for a while, but now free users can join the party. If, of course, they are willing to tolerate advertising. As reported by Android Police, this is a pretty ruthless ad , too. These include banner ads, pop-ups, and even occasional full-screen video ads. Luckily, you should only see ads when you use a radio service (if you listen to your music, you won’t see any ads), but when you risk doing something you didn’t pay for or downloading yourself, it can get messy. If you want to bring your own MP3s, Play Music is the best option in town, but if you only want free stuff, there might be better options.

Pandora: Set It and Forget It Radio Ad-supported

Key Features:

  • Advertising radio stations
  • This is pretty much

Main disadvantages:

  • No music library outside of the radio
  • Timeouts stop playing after a while
  • Limited passes

When Pandora first started out, putting radio on the Internet was revolutionary . It is still one of the main elements of background music today. While the company hasn’t gone far beyond these basics, it’s also really good at them. If you want to press one button and have a full day’s soundtrack, Pandora is hard to beat. His recommendations are top notch and you can train his recommendations with your likes and skips over time.

Pandora does not allow you to save albums, create playlists, or create your own collection. In fact, you cannot choose what you want to listen to other than the first song you choose. However, this is not always necessary. Pandora is meant to replace your regular radio listening experience, not your home library. If that’s all you need, Pandora is the easiest service for you.

Rdio: web-based music collections with a smart interface

Key Features:

  • Radio stations with ads on mobile devices
  • Free online broadcast of any song
  • Use your phone or tablet as a desktop remote

Main disadvantages:

  • Streaming radio only on mobile

Rdio continues to be a black sheep in the music streaming industry. Although it received only honors in our fifth hive , the free tier of Rdio is still quite competitive. You can create your personal collection using the web player and listen to any music you want. As with any other service, this is done through advertising. You can also stream a limited number of radio stations to Pandora style mobile devices with a limited number of skips.

So far, Rdio isn’t really nearly as big as Spotify, but its apps are interesting enough to merit a special mention. If you listen to music online with Rdio, you can use mobile apps as a remote control for your music. Rdio apps are also slightly cleaner than Spotify, although you also ditch all Spotify apps and plugins . Ultimately, this will likely come down to personal preference, but if you’ve ever given up on Spotify apps, it’s worth taking a look at Rdio.


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