Wondering about other streaming services? I tried the following three and didn’t like them as much as our top picks. Here’s why.
Amazon Music: The best thing about Amazon Music is that its basic ad-free tier is included with Prime, but it’s sneaky. It has a song catalog of more than 70 million tracks, but certain artists and albums are off-limits unless you pay extra for Amazon Music Unlimited—$8 per month for Prime members and $10 per month for everyone else. Audio quality at 256 Kbps is better than Spotify’s free tier at 160 Kbps, but I prefer Spotify’s interface, music discovery, and curated playlists. There is a premium tier called Amazon Music HD that boosts the streaming bit rate to an average of 850 Kbps. It costs $13 per month for Prime members and $15 for nonmembers. If you’re going to pay up, there are better options.
Deezer: On iOS and Android, you can only “favorite” 1,000 albums and artists, each. That’s way too low. Music discovery suggestions are pretty bad too. I’d be listening to one band and Deezer would suggest something very different. A lot of the curated playlists included tracks from albums not available in the US, so I was unable to play them. Not just obscure titles, but several tracks in Ray Charles collections, for example. It also had a dismal back button that would skip screens, like Apple Music
Pandora: Pandora is still very popular, but it’s been steadily losing listeners since 2014. The free tier still functions like the Pandora of old, where you can tune into a radio station but can’t search for your own music. For the $5-a-month tier, you have to watch an ad to search for and play the songs you want. The $10 per month Premium tier promises unlimited skips, along with fine print saying that “skips (are) limited by certain licensing restrictions.” The maximum bit rate of 192 Kbps is too low to be worth paying for. It’s a bad deal all around.