Online streaming music services dominate the music industry. According to the Global Music Report 2021 published by IFPI, streaming music reached 62.1% of total global recorded music revenues at the end of 2020. The streaming music revenue share was even higher (85%) in the United States at the end of the first half of 2020 according to the Mid-Year 2020 RIAA Revenue Statistics published by RIAA.
Today, we are reviewing both the world’s popular streaming music websites and online services.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Music streaming allows you to listen to music online through mobile apps or browsers without downloading tracks. This saves both the storage space of your devices and time to download the music. However, it requires an internet connection and create an account on those music streaming websites.
According to the Music Streaming Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report published in October 2020 by Grand View Research, Inc., apps accounted for 85.2% of the online streaming music market revenue.
There are global and regional players on the music streaming market. They include Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Deezer, Pandora, Soundcloud, Tidal, etc. According to MIDiA Research Ltd., music streaming services reached 358 million paid subscribers in 2019, and they are projected to have 450 million paid subscribers at the end of 2020. Spotify is the market leader with a market share of 32% by the end of 2019.
There are free and paid streaming music services. While free services have more limitations and feed you ads, paid services offer unlimited song skips, on-demand playback, etc. Besides streaming music on websites, many services offer mobile apps which allow you to cache music for offline playback.
Many services have lyrics so you can sing along. Some offer family plans allowing household members to share an account for some monthly paid streaming.
Some music streaming websites allow you to download music to listen to when you are offline. While most streams are compressed audio ranging from 128Kbps to 320Kbps, some services like Amazon Music Unlimited offer Hi-Res Audio with superior sound quality. Some services like Spotify allow you to try before subscription, while others like Apple Music only offer premium streaming.
Unfortunately, not all streaming music websites offer music or every track from your favorite artists due to royalty issues.
Providing a streaming quality of 320 kbps and tens of millions of music tracks, Spotify is the most popular online streaming music service. You can listen in a browser, mobile app or even web player, smart TV apps, connected speaker support, and cars. Once logged in, you can listen to the songs, create playlists and share your music with friends.
They offer both free and premium services. However, they don’t have lossless options.
Apple Music is the second most popular online streaming music service with tens of millions of music tracks. It works on Apple devices and Android through Apple Music app. It integrates well with Apple devices plus iTunes music. The downside is that they have no free version nor lossless option.
Amazon Music is the third most popular online streaming music service.
Music Prime is a benefit of a Prime membership, featuring a curated music streaming catalogue of two million songs, thousands of playlists and artist stations. Listen on the go on your favorite devices, download music to listen offline wherever you are or ask Alexa for something you’ll like, always ad-free.
Music Unlimited is a premium music subscription service featuring over 70 million songs and thousands of expert-programmed playlists and stations. Listen anywhere, anytime, on smartphone, tablet, PC/Mac, Fire TV, and Amazon Echo, ad-free. Download music to listen to offline wherever you are. Audio streams at 256Kbps so if you want better quality, you may try Amazon Music HD which offers both HD (70+ million songs) up to 850 kbps and Hi-Res (5 million songs) of 3730 kbps.
YouTube Music is the fifth most popular online streaming music service. It replaced Google Play Music and offers official albums, singles, videos, remixes, live performances and more for Android, iOS and desktop. Besides the free version, you can get YouTube Music Premium to listen ad-free, offline & with your screen off. However, it has no lossless audio option.
Deezer is the sixth most popular online streaming music service. It has over 73 million tracks, podcasts and playlists.
Deezer Free is free with ads and has MP3 128 kbps quality. You can play tracks in shuffle mode, and create your own collection. It is supported on desktop and most mobile devices as well as many devices like home and speaker devices. You can enjoy personal mixes like Flow, and launch mixes inspired by a track or artist. There are also built-in mobile features like SongCatcher and Lyrics.
You may purchase deezer Premium to pick and play any track of MP3 320 kbps quality ad-free, plus download your favorites and listen offline. Stream across all your devices. If you want lossless CD quality (FLAC 16-bit 1,411 kbps), consider deezer HiFi which supports Sonos, Sony, Devialet, Harman Kardon, Denon, Bang & Olufsen, Cabasse and more devices.
Pandora Media is the seventh most popular online streaming music service. Unfortunately, it only offers services to listeners located in the United States at this time. This applies equally to free and paid accounts, as well as Pandora on all computers and supported devices, including offline.
SoundCloud is one of the largest streaming music services with over 200 million tracks mostly uploaded by over 25 million independent music creators. Many artists used SoundCloud as a stepping stone in their career. Besides free service with ads, SoundCloud Go offers ad-free listening and allows you to save unlimited tracks for offline listening. SoundCloud Go+ offers, in addition, full catalog access, mixing all tracks within select DJ apps, and high quality audio (256kbps AAC equivalent to MP3 320kbps).
Tidal is a high-fidelity online music streaming service with over 70 million tracks and 250,000 videos. You can download your favorites with our offline feature. It offers lossless music with TIDAL Premium (320 kbps CD quality) and TIDAL HiFi (typically 96 kHz / 24 bit). It is supported on many devices including mobile, PC/Mac, smart TVs, streamers, cars, and DJ systems. However, there is no free service.
Qobuz may be the most advanced in terms of audio quality. It was the first music service to offer 16 bit/44kHz CD-Quality streaming, and FLAC 24-Bit up to 192 kHz Hi-Res studio quality streaming. It has more than 70 million tracks in the best sound quality available for streaming. Besides Studio Premier, Studio Sublime gives you access to the entire catalog of Hi-Res and CD quality albums, all available for streaming and download purchase with exclusive discounts. However, no free service is available.
There are online streaming radio-like services like which feature tons of stations including music stations. They include TuneIn Radio Music, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM Radio, LiveXLive, and BBC Sounds Music.
MixCloud is an online streaming music website that enables you to play radio shows, DJ mixes and podcasts made by music creators from Apple or Android devices. It lets you follow and support the music creators you like. Besides the free plan with limits and supported by ads, Mixcloud Premium offers ad-free music without limits or interruptions.
When it comes to online music, streaming dominates with the ability to access to tens of millions of music tracks on different devices. There are many streaming music websites to choose from like Spotify, Apple, Amazon, YouTube, etc. offering unlimited access to huge libraries of music online and offline. They include both free and paid services.
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