Streaming music service Spotify was available in Europe for years, but finally saw a highly anticipated US launch last summer. US users, mainly those who weren’t already using a proxy to access the service, scrambled very quickly to sign up for an account and download the application the day it became available. Today, the service has 2.5 million paying subscribers and a sizably bigger majority of nonpaying subscribers. What makes Spotify so great is its vast music library available for streaming and its ability to already tap into your existing music collection. The service is unlike iTunes in that it doesn’t offer music for sale, but just streaming from the cloud. Music is streamed to users in a vast majority of apps available on mobile devices (for premium subscribers), Windows, and OS X. Another huge addition to Spotify is its integration to Facebook, but we’ll get back to that.
At sign up, Spotify currently offers three plans to users: a free with ads plan, a $4.99 unlimited plan that includes no advertising and higher stream quality, and a $9.99 premium plan that offers mobile streaming and more. The service is fairly priced along with other streaming services like Netflix, GameFly, and even its competitor Rdio.
Besides its vast music library — and I mean vast — Spotify has great social integration built in. The streaming service has an exclusive partnership with Facebook that allows users to see their friends’ playlists in the Spotify app and also allows them to post the current music they’re listening to on their Facebook Wall. The social integration is seriously the best part.
Tomorrow, Spotify is reportedly going to announce that it will allow outside developers to tap into its music, which will allow developers to offer a wide range of music to their users. But the catch of course is that the users need to already be paying for a Spotify premium account.
So there’s Spotify, but what about the other music services that are currently out there? Here are the other big players broken down.
iTunes Match went out of private beta earlier this month, and focuses on syncing the user’s music to Apple’s iCloud for $24.99 a year. iTunes Match has a cap of 30,000 songs and doesn’t have any type of streaming feature. The service syncs the music almost instantly to every iPod, iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC you have registered to your account.
In iTunes Match’s first few days of existence, the service saw many issues with syncing, but it seems that Apple has ironed out these issues. However, many users are still calling iTunes Match a pretty dry service that’s not worth the money.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with Pandora, a music streaming service that has been around since January of 2000. Pandora allows users to select custom radio stations from artists, albums, and more and will recommend more songs to match them. It’s a great music discovery tool that is enjoyed by many. In fact, Pandora currently has a user base of 80 million users, and is a public company that saw $138 million in revenue during its fiscal year 2011. Pandora is available for free with ads, which also includes iOS and Mac apps. Pandora also makes a pro account available for $36 a year.
Rdio is very similar to Spotify, which saw an earlier US launch. The streaming service lets users listen to more than 12 million songs on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, OS X, and more applications. Rdio, unlike Spotify, has a really clean Web app.
Rdio is available ad free to users for $4.99 a month (which includes Web streaming), or $9.99 month (which includes mobile streaming). Rdio is very competitively priced to Spotify, but is missing a few social features that Spotify does have.
Grooveshark is a Web-based streaming service that allows users to find any song for free. There’s minimal advertising on the website and no restrictions on how much music you can listen to. Grooveshark does offer a pro account for $6 that gets rid of ads, but I don’t really see the reason to sign up for the pro account, seeing as the ads on Grooveshark aren’t too bad. Besides just listening to music, you can also build playlists under a free account. Grooveshark does have an iOS app, though it’s only available on jailbroken devices.
Grooveshark operates somewhat under the radar, seeing as it has no current licensing deals with record labels, and it is starting to pay dearly for it. Grooveshark is currently seeing attacks from record labels. Grooveshark seems like the perfect service to listen to songs on the fly, but not to build your ultimate playlist for listening to all day.
Like Spotify and Rdio, MOG is a subscription-based streaming service that currently has over 13 million songs. MOG streams music to a Web app, mobile apps, sound systems, BMW cards, and the Roku. A great feature of MOG is its Pandora-like feature to build custom channels for certain artists. MOG is available for $4.99 and $9.99 a month, of course with mobile streaming and no ads.
There are countless other music streaming services out on the Web. When it comes down to what you choose, it usually depends on what music is available that you like to listen to and where your friends are. Right now it seems that Spotify is seeing the most traction because of the excitement surrounding the service, but Pandora is certainly leading the way with the number of subscribers. Like any industry, it’s great to see competition, because new ideas are brought about quicker. At the end of the day, which music streaming service are you currently using? Feel free to let us know in the comments below (make sure you tell us why).