Best Music Streaming Services (2021)

Who I am
Aina Martin
@ainamartin
Author and references

Over the past ten years, our audio uses have changed dramatically. Cassettes and CDs have been relegated to the drawers to make way for 100% digital. Led by Spotify, the music streaming market has never done so well. The offer is also so extensive that it is sometimes difficult to navigate ... This is why we have designed this comparison which includes the best audio streaming services of the moment.

The choice of the editor From 9,99 €

Spotify





The choice of the editor

  • Efficient and modern interface
  • Monstrous Music Catalog
  • Ogg Vorbis codec up to 320 kbps (on all devices)
From € 9,99 From € 9,99 The alternative See the offer Read the review 8

Amazon Music



L'alternative

  • 2 million free tracks for Amazon Prime subscribers
  • 3 kbps MP320 quality
  • Expandable with Amazon smart speaker
See the offer Read the review 8 Read the review 8 See the Made in France offer From 9,99 €

Deezer



Made in France

  • Efficiency and simplicity for all your devices
  • Codec MP3 320 kbps ou FLAC 16 bits/44.1 kHz
  • A constantly evolving service
From € 9,99 From € 9,99

Like SVOD, music streaming is on the rise. Each competitor nevertheless seeks a way to stand out from the others: superior listening quality, sale of albums, video clips ... Each puts forward a particular asset.

Our selection aims to show you the specifics and prices of each on-demand music service. Whether you're a serious audiophile or want music for the whole family, you're bound to find the audio app that is right for you.

Note that we present here the six main providers of dematerialized music of the moment. There are others less known like Napster, Google Play Music or Soundcloud. While not as provided as the industry giants, they may be worth a look. Feel free to share your preferences with us in the comments!

Summary

  • 1. Spotify: the essential Swedish giant
  • 2. Deezer: the French behind Spotify
  • 3. Amazon Music, streaming and selling music on demand
  • 4. Apple Music, for Apple fans
  • 5. Tidal, the American Hifi
  • 6. Qobuz, the French audiophile
  • How to choose your music streaming service?

1. Spotify: the essential Swedish giant

From € 9,99 Spotify

  • Efficient and modern interface
  • Monstrous Music Catalog
  • Ogg Vorbis codec up to 320 kbps (on all devices)

Spotify isn't number one for nothing. Available on every device imaginable, this audio streaming service has only one flaw: it does not offer listening in CD quality.

Spotify isn't number one for nothing. Available on every device imaginable, this audio streaming service has only one flaw: it does not offer listening in CD quality.

Who hasn't heard of Spotify? The audio service from Sweden is THE undisputed giant in the digital music industry. Monstrous catalog, application with small onions, attractive prices: Spotify has something to seduce.

An efficient and modern interface

Since its launch in 2008, the Spotify application has had plenty of time to improve. The development teams have thus produced what is probably best done today. Whether you're using an Android / iOS smartphone, Smart TV, or a computer, it's a snap to find the next music that will rock your ears.

Proof of its success, the streaming service has even been launched on the Xbox One and Playstation 4 home consoles. Better yet, it is found on most connected speakers on the market. With Spotify Connect, almost any audio device can receive music from the app, making this the world's most versatile streaming platform.

A service that shuns CD quality

It may seem paradoxical, but the giant Spotify is one of the few music streaming services that does not have a “high quality” audio offer. The platform is indeed based on the Vorbis codec, an equivalent of MP3 which compresses music.

Free offers are limited to speeds of 160 kbps while Premium subscribers benefit from 320 kbps. In any case, it is necessary to ignore the MQA and other formats equivalent to CD quality. This is not necessarily serious, Premium listening remains very pleasant.

Towards new horizons with podcasts

In mid-2019, Spotify adds access to numerous podcasts to its application. The goal is to continue to stand out by going beyond the usual music and radio stations already present for a few years.

2. Deezer: the French behind Spotify

From € 9,99 Deezer

  • Efficiency and simplicity for all your devices
  • Codec MP3 320 kbps ou FLAC 16 bits/44.1 kHz
  • A constantly evolving service

Of all current audio services, Deezer is certainly one of the most versatile. In addition to many practical functions, it even offers the luxury of Hifi with a subscription for less than 15 € / month.

Of all current audio services, Deezer is certainly one of the most versatile. In addition to many practical functions, it even offers the luxury of Hifi with a subscription for less than 15 € / month.

France has know-how, the proof with Deezer which comes directly to the flower beds of Spotify. Packed with features and constantly evolving, this audio streaming service is clearly worth the detour!

Efficiency and simplicity for all your devices

Like its Swedish competitor, Deezer is very versatile. From web browsers to cars and connected watches, the service is accessible on almost all existing platforms. A real tour de force which gives the French challenger a definite advantage.

Whatever the medium, Deezer's interface is very easy to learn. You will be able to create in a few seconds the playlist of your dreams or let yourself be carried away by Flow, an intelligent system which learns from your tastes as you listen. And if you ever hear a tune that you like during your outings, Song Catcher will help you find its title and its creator just like Shazam using your smartphone's microphone. Difficult to do more complete!

From MP3 to Hi-Fi

In order to adapt to the rise in power of Tidal and Qobuz, the designers of Deezer have decided to adapt their musical offer. While users of the free version have to be content with relatively low-quality 3 kbps MP120s, Hifi subscribers can enjoy CD-quality listening via the 16-bit / 44.1 kHz FLAC format.

The Hifi subscription at € 14.99 / month also gives access to Sony's brand new 360 Reality Audio format. However, you will need to use a suitable headset such as the Sony WH-1000XM3 to fully benefit from it. If the songs on offer are still few in number, the resulting auditory experience may be of interest to the most curious users.

A constantly evolving service

As you have seen, Deezer is already very comprehensive. However, the French music streaming service continues to evolve, having for example integrated podcasts a few months ago. Boxing on all terrains, Deezer never seems to be short of new ideas.

3. Amazon Music, streaming and selling music on demand

See the offer Read the review 8 Amazon Music
  • 2 million free tracks for Amazon Prime subscribers
  • 3 kbps MP320 quality
  • Expandable with Amazon smart speaker

Amazon Music is not the most complete, nor the most attractive of music streaming services. However, it is very interesting if you make intensive use of connected objects with Alexa or if you are a member of the Amazon Prime program.

Amazon Music is not the most complete, nor the most attractive of music streaming services. However, it is very interesting if you make intensive use of connected objects with Alexa or if you are a member of the Amazon Prime program.

Known from its origins as Amazon MP3, the e-commerce giant's audio streaming service is one of the most active in the industry. Unlike most of its competition, Amazon Music even allows you to buy your favorite albums and enjoy them DRM-free.

Limited experience despite Alexa

Like its version dedicated to SVOD video streaming, Amazon's music application is far from the most successful on the market. The austere interface nevertheless goes to the point. We thus find the possibility of creating playlists or listening to mixes created by the engineers of the American firm. The whole unfortunately does not go further. We must therefore put aside podcasts or even the intelligent suggestions that we generally find elsewhere ...

Amazon compensates, however, by highlighting its famous voice assistant Alexa. Recently integrated into the application, it allows you to launch your music just with the voice. A somewhat gimmicky function, but which can be useful when you don't necessarily want to browse the catalog to find a specific playlist. If you have an Amazon smart speaker, you can also play your music on it, as the subscription covers all devices with Alexa.

Not yet HD quality in France

While the United States has been benefiting from Amazon Music HD for several months, France still has to limit itself to songs in MP3 320 kbps maximum. Rest assured, the quality is more than sufficient to enjoy the 60 million titles available on this streaming platform.

The arrival of the Music HD service is nevertheless shaking the competition with its very aggressive prices. Deezer has already lowered its prices for the Hifi subscription. Tidal and Qobuz, focused on high quality music, will therefore have to react quickly or risk losing their customers.

Priority to Prime subscribers

The main asset of Amazon Music is to give Amazon Prime subscribers access to 2 million tracks. This allows the American firm to compensate for the lack of a free offer by integrating Prime Music into its premium package.

4. Apple Music, for Apple fans

Dès 9,99 € Apple Music
  • Lossless at no extra cost
  • One of the most advantageous subscriptions on the market
  • One of the biggest music catalogs currently (with the possibility of adding your own library)

There is no doubt about one point: Apple Music is undeniably the fiercest competitor against Spotify, and the growing number of users are not mistaken. It is one of the music streaming services with the most features and the best audio quality for the asking price to enjoy the subscription. With its 90 million songs in lossless quality, its personalized content and flawless accessibility (whether you have hardware from Apple or not), it is a major competitor against the Swedish giant.

There is no doubt about one point: Apple Music is undeniably the fiercest competitor against Spotify, and the growing number of users are not mistaken. It is one of the music streaming services with the most features and the best audio quality for the asking price to enjoy the subscription. With its 90 million songs in lossless quality, its personalized content and flawless accessibility (whether you have hardware from Apple or not), it is a major competitor against the Swedish giant.

Arrived later than its competitors, Apple's streaming service quickly carved out a choice share in the audio market. If you have a device from the American brand, there is no doubt that you will benefit from this online music platform.

An experience tailored for Apple devices

Who does not know Apple? It's hard to miss the famous apple. The daddy of the iPad, however, took some time before embarking on audio streaming. It was in fact in 2015 that Apple Music was born. The launch was also strongly criticized at its inception, the fault of a not very intuitive interface.

The R&D of the Cupertino company quickly caught up, now offering a very neat application. We find there what made the success of the other platforms: intelligent mixes, management of playlists and even access to the exclusive radio of the brand, Beats1. Unfortunately, Android users are left behind with regular bugs that plague the experience ...

256 kbps audio quality with AAC

Having actively participated in the expansion of the AAC format, it's no surprise that Apple uses it for its streaming service. But don't be fooled by the low bit rate of 256 kbps offered on the platform. The audio quality remains very good, the AAC being of as good quality as the Vorbis 320 kbps from Spotify.

The most music-loving iPhone or iPad users will, however, have to ignore any lossless offer. The Cupertino giant does not seem to have decided to switch its catalog to CD quality anytime soon ...

Integration with iTunes

The biggest advantage of Apple Music is probably its perfect integration into the brand's ecosystem. You can use the service on the HomePod connected speaker or recover your iTunes library very easily within the Music application.

5. Tidal, the American Hifi

Dès 9,99 € Tidal
  • One of the best audio qualities on the market
  • A growing player
  • An easy-to-use interface that is classic enough to attract all types of audience

Tidal is a growing player in the saturated field of music streaming. Despite ever fiercer competition, the platform has made its mark by offering a quality user experience, mainly centered around superior sound quality, with the aim of conquering the most zealous audiophiles. On the other hand, we regret its slightly high price and the lack of originality of its interface, which certainly prevents it from becoming one of the market leaders.

Tidal is a growing player in the saturated field of music streaming. Despite ever fiercer competition, the platform has made its mark by offering a quality user experience, mainly centered around superior sound quality, with the aim of conquering the most zealous audiophiles. On the other hand, we regret its slightly high price and the lack of originality of its interface, which certainly prevents it from becoming one of the market leaders.

Impossible to speak of audio without evoking the CD quality, seen by certain music lovers as the holy grail of music. It is on this aspect that Tidal, a streaming service that targets high fidelity, tries to stand out.

Audio and video within a single application

Tidal is a separate streaming platform. It is indeed owned by Jay-Z and twenty other artists. Launched in 2014, it regularly highlights exclusives specific to the owners of the brand. An editorial line follows which will not necessarily please everyone.

Despite that, the Tidal app is one of the best around. It includes not only 60 million titles, but also podcasts and even recently videos in high definition. The curation is done by professional musicians as well as algorithms that learn from you based on your listening. It is still a shame to note that Tidal is not available on connected speakers from Google and Amazon unlike its competitors.

From AAC to MQA, everything for Hifi

If Tidal is so often highlighted, it is not only because of the large marketing campaigns that have taken place since its launch. This is above all because the audio streaming platform is one of the few to offer listening in CD quality and even HiRes.

The premium subscription - the most basic - offers 320 kbps AAC quality, which already exceeds the majority of competitors. But Hifi subscribers can go further with lossless songs in 16-bit / 44.1 kHz FLAC and MQA up to 24-bit / 96 kHz. Note that the MQA remains a lossy format, but the losses are inaudible.

By artists, for artists

This is a bit the leitmotif of Tidal: everything is done to seduce music lovers. The American platform thus prides itself on being the one that pays artists the best. If the prices of Hifi subscriptions are high, they reflect the great care taken in the audio quality of this service.

6. Qobuz, the French audiophile

From € 9,99 Qobuz
  • Functions that go straight to the point
  • A catalog that relies on HiRes
  • 3 kbps MP320 quality, FLAC up to 24 bit / 192 kHz

Of all the current digital music platforms, Qobuz is certainly the least developed. But it compensates for the poverty of its application with the best possible sound quality and a DRM-free store, which should appeal to demanding music lovers.

Of all the current digital music platforms, Qobuz is certainly the least developed. But it compensates for the poverty of its application with the best possible sound quality and a DRM-free store, which should appeal to demanding music lovers.

Last participant of our selection and not the least, Qobuz targets above all audiophiles. If it is not the most original in these functions, this audio streaming service nevertheless shows all the French know-how in terms of high-fidelity music.

Functions that go straight to the point

Quite frankly, Qobuz is far from being the most advanced online music provider. The mobile app for Android and iOS gets straight to the point, as do the versions for the browser or Windows and MacOS computer.

You can therefore manage your playlists and favorites, listen to the curations of Qobuz engineers, download your music offline ... And that's about it. There are no podcasts, radios, or even smart mixes here. We will still note the regular highlighting of artists via blog articles containing video clips from YouTube. Minimalism is therefore de rigueur.

A catalog that relies on HiRes

Although Qobuz is poor in functionality, it has a huge advantage that its competitors do not have: a catalog of several million titles in HiRes quality. Like Tidal, the French therefore relies on high-fidelity to stand out.

If the platform does not have access to the recent MQA format, it falls back on FLAC with songs up to 24 bits / 192 kHz. Of course, you will have to pay the most expensive Studio subscription to take advantage of it. Otherwise, the basic plan at 9.99 € / month offers MP3 at 320 kbps, for listening quality similar to all other current audio streaming services.

A high-fidelity oriented boutique

Amazon is not alone in selling music in digital format. Qobuz uses the same formula, but in high fidelity. It is thus possible to buy your favorite albums without DRM with a quality up to 24 bits / 192 kHz in FLAC, WAV, ALAC, WMA or AIFF. There is a choice!

By opting for the Sublime + formula, Qobuz users can also benefit from great discounts on high definition albums. In addition, Qobuz is compatible with Roon and Audirvana audiophile software for an ever more sophisticated music experience.

How to choose your music streaming service?

What is the audio platform with the largest catalog?

Currently, most audio services offer tens of millions of tracks. The French Qobuz is unfortunately lagging behind with 40 million songs "only" where its counterparts all line up 60 million tracks. Either way, you should probably find your favorite songs back and forth without any problem, no matter what you choose!

What audio quality should I prefer?

Here is a broad question. To answer honestly: there is no winner. According to numerous double-blind studies, 90% of people do not distinguish between good old 3 kbps MP320 and CD quality 16 bit / 44.1 kHz.

Unless you only use the free offers with very heavy compressions from Spotify and Deezer, you will therefore enjoy good quality sound on all audio streaming platforms on the market. If, despite everything, you have quality equipment, it will be more advisable to turn to Tidal or Qobuz, which are the only services to offer HiRes music.

What is the cheapest music streaming offer?

If there is one area where prices are all aligned, it is that of on-demand dematerialized music. All the biggest services of the moment thus have their basic offer at 9.99 € / month. For family use, it goes up to € 14.99 / month for six simultaneous accounts.

Recently, we have seen student rates appear at € 4.99 / month on Spotify and Tidal. These are the cheapest offers, but you have to justify student status in this case. If you don't have a budget to allocate to music streaming, then you will have to turn to the free offers from Spotify and Deezer. You won't pay anything, but the functions will be limited and you will have to listen to commercials regularly between songs. The audio quality is also reduced on these freemium versions.

Which streaming service can I use on my Alexa or Google Assistant speaker?

Do you have a connected speaker at home? Then you will be able to use most of the audio platforms on the market. Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music are thus compatible with Amazon and Google assistants.

Commercial rivalry requires, the services of the two American giants are not supported between them. For example, it is not possible to use Amazon Music on the Google Home. Conversely, you cannot listen to Google Play Music on an Echo speaker. If you are going to buy a smart speaker, then be careful with this.

Another drawback: Tidal and Qobuz are also not managed by American voice assistants. On the other hand, these two HiRes-focused services enjoy exclusive access to Roon and Audirvana audiophile software, as well as to Sonos products.

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