Best music streaming apps: Spotify vs Rdio vs Google Music vs Deezer vs iTunes

Music lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to listening to their favourite songs online. Whether you want to listen to tracks for free – with adverts between songs – or pay a monthly fee for a premium all-you-can eat service, there’s never been a better time to enjoy music.

The only question is: which streaming service is right for you? To help you figure out the answer, we’ve compared five of the biggest music streaming services – Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, iTunes Radio and Google Music – looking at key issues such as price, supported platforms, size of library and audio streaming quality.

What’s the best music streaming app in the UK?

best Music streaming apps spotify


Platforms: Windows, OS X, iOS, Web, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Symbian, Xbox and more

Price: Free or £9.99 a month

Library: 20 million tracks

Quality: Free: Mobile Normal, 96 Kbits/sec; Mobile HQ, 160 Kbits/sec; Desktop, 160 Kbits/sec; Premium: Mobile Extreme, 320 Kbits/sec; Desktop HQ, 320 Kbits/sec

Spotify is the best known of the online music streaming services. It boasts a music library of over 20 million songs, with an average of 20,000 new tracks added every day.

It offers a rich set of features, including playlists, radio mode, social media integration and support for a wealth of music discovery apps, such as and Soundrop, accessible via the desktop program.

Until January 2014, free users who had been using Spotify for more than six months were limited to 10 hours of playback per month. This restriction has now been lifted, however, so you can listen for free for as long as you like – as long as you don’t mind the periodic advert.

best music apps iTunes radio spotify

best Music streaming apps spotify Rdio


Platforms Windows, OS X, Web, Android, iOS and BlackBerry

Price: Free for six months or £9.99 a month; “Family Plan” discounts available

Library: 25 million tracks

Quality: Not specified

Rdio’s design is clean and very intuitive to use; in use, not a lot sets it apart from Spotify in terms of the user experience. You get a little more in the way of interaction with other users you follow, however: Rdio lets you discover popular albums being played by your connections, while Spotify only offers you the ability to see recently played tracks.

One distinctive benefit of Rdio is its “Family Plan” pricing for multiple accounts paid for on a single credit card. A second account receives a 20% discount; third, fourth and fifth accounts get a more generous 50% reduction.

best music apps Rdio

best Music streaming apps google music

Google Music

Platforms: Web, Android and iOS

Library: 22 million tracks

Quality: 320 Kbits/sec

Price: £9.99 a month

Google Music doesn’t offer a free streaming service – at least not in the vein of Spotify and Rdio. Its “locker” service does however let you store up to 20,000 songs from your own collection on Google’s servers, and then stream or download them to your desktop or mobile device whenever you like, for no charge.

Should you decide to pay the £9.99, you can also stream any of the 22 million songs in Google’s catalogue, with no limits on usage. You get all the usual features such as playlists, smart recommendations for songs from previous music choices and personalised radio too.

best music apps iTunes radio Google Music

best Music streaming apps google itunes

iTunes Radio

Platforms: Apple TV, OS X, Windows and iOS

Library: 26 million songs

Quality: 256 Kbits/sec

Price: Free or £21.99/year

iTunes Radio is a bit of a head-scratcher: unlike other streaming services, it doesn’t allow you to stream specific tracks or albums on demand.

Instead it lets you listen to “stations”, based on genre or Genius playlist suggestions. It’s a bit of a lottery, and you can only skip six songs per station per hour, so while it may be a good way to discover new music, we suspect you’ll soon get annoyed with the service. Perhaps it’s just as well that Apple recently bought Beats, which previously ran its own successful streaming services: its current offering is some way off the pace.

best music apps iTunes radio

best Music streaming apps spotify Deezer


Platforms: Windows 8 & 7, Android, iOS, BlackBerry 10, Xbox 360, Chromecast

Library: 30 million songs

Quality: Normal, 120 Kbits/sec; Premium, 320 Kbits/sec

Price: Free (web only) or £4.99/month

Deezer is an extremely popular music streaming service that boasts an impressive music library – with 10 million more songs than Spotify – at a price that’s currently half what you’ll pay for other services. This is being advertised as a limited-time offer, though, so act quickly if you want to take advantage.

Deezer has all the familiar features you’d expect from this sort of service, including playlists, radio, streaming charts, discovery apps and Facebook integration too. Arguably, the most conspicuous difference between Deezer’s interface and Spotify’s is the logo!

best music apps iTunes radio Deezer

Best music streaming app: verdict

For all-round usability it’s difficult to beat Spotify. It’s a polished beast with plenty of features and plenty of music, whether you pay for the app or opt for the free version.

There are reasons to look elsewhere, though. Right now Deezer is half the price of Spotify, and if you’re paying for more than one account then Rdio is another alternative that can save you a lot of money.

If you already have a large digital collection – or if you’re into more obscure music – then Google Music is also well worth considering, as it allows you to effortlessly combine the gems of your own music library with a cloud repository of more than 20 million tracks.

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

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