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Sick Of Spotify? Here Are The Best Alternatives | Screen Rant

Spotify is the most popular music streaming app on the planet, but for folks that don't want to use it for one reason or another, there are a few excellent alternatives worth checking out. For some people, that may come as a surprise. Spotify is often the go-to streaming service, and as such, it's easy to think that it's the only one out there worth using. Thankfully, that's not the case.

To Spotify's credit, there are reasons why it's as popular as it is. Launched in April 2006, Spotify's been around longer than almost all of its major competitors. Having time on its side has certainly helped, but that's not the only explanation for its success. Spotify gives users access to more than 70 million songs, over 2.6 million podcasts, and is available on virtually every device. It's also the best service out there in regards to creating personalized playlists for people. In addition to every user getting six Daily Mixes (each centered around certain types of music), Spotify also offers Artists Mixes, Decade Mixes, and Genre Mixes. Spotify Connect is another hallmark feature — allowing someone to start playing music on one device and seamlessly control it on another one.

Related: What Each Spotify Plan Costs

For all the things Spotify does well, however, there are reasons why someone may want to consider using something else. Some people think its mobile app is confusing, folks not interested in podcasts might be turned off by having them included with their music, and the lack of hi-fi/lossless audio (at least for now) is a huge turn-off for audio enthusiasts. Spotify is great, but it's also not perfect. For anyone looking for a solid alternative to Spotify, here are four of the best options worth considering.

To kick off this list, let’s talk about Apple Music. Apple Music is one of the youngest streaming services out there, having first come out in 2015. Despite its young age, however, it’s quickly established itself as one of the best Spotify alternatives in existence. Apple Music subscribers get many of the same features that Spotify offers, including access to over 75 million songs, the ability to download tracks for offline listening, and personalized Mixes tailored to each person’s listening habits.

In addition to those millions of on-demand songs, Apple Music stands out for offering exclusive live radio shows. There are three channels available (Apple Music 1, Apple Music Hits, and Apple Music Country), each plays its own lineup of shows, and users can go back and listen to old ones on demand. Apple Music also has a growing selection of local radio stations to listen to, sourcing them from TuneIn and iHeartRadio. While these live broadcasts may not be for everyone, it’s a great way to find something new to listen to when someone doesn’t feel like picking out a specific album or playlist.

Another one of Apple Music’s greatest strengths is also one of its most recent additions: Lossless/Spatial Audio. As of June 2021, all Apple Music subscribers can now listen to millions of songs in 24-bit/48kHz lossless quality — with some of those also available in High-Resolution Lossless at 24-bit/192kHz. This all results in music sounding better than it did at the old 256kbps standard, and the best part is that it’s offered entirely for free. Also offered for free are select songs with Dolby Atmos. Dolby Atmos strives to make songs more immersive by making it sound like the music is being played from all around the listener — including above and below them. It’s a pretty strange effect at first, but after getting used to it, it can make supported songs sound better than they ever have before.

Related: AirPods, HomePod & Apple Music Lossless Audio Explained

The rest of the Apple Music experience is just as great. It’s available for almost every platform (including Android), its mobile apps are incredibly well-designed, the karaoke-like lyrics view is a fantastic touch, and it’s also the easiest music app to use for Apple Watch owners. Pricing is almost identical to Spotify at $9.99/month and $14.99/month for individual and family plans, respectively, and it’s also bundled with Apple One plans to make it even more affordable. When it comes to great Spotify alternatives, it’s hard to do much better.

If someone’s looking for a music app that provides a virtually identical experience to Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited may be the way to go. Subscribers get access to over 75 million songs, all of these can be played on-demand, and users can download songs for offline playback. Amazon Music also bundles podcasts into its application the way Spotify does, which could be seen as a pro or con depending on each person’s preference. There is a convenience of having music and podcasts in one single app, but it can also make things feel a bit cluttered at times.

Like Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited also includes lossless music for free under its Amazon Music HD branding. High Definition songs are in ‘CD-quality’ and stream at 16-bit/44.1kHz. Select songs are also available in the even higher Ultra HD tier, which ramps things up to 24-bit/192kHz. Amazon touts that it also offers songs in Dolby Atmos, and while that’s true, it comes with a huge asterisk. On Amazon Music Unlimited, Dolby Atmos songs are only available when listening on the Amazon Echo Studio speaker. By comparison, Apple Music plays Dolby Atmos songs when listening via an iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K, or Android (in beta).

Related: AirPods Pro Vs. Amazon Echo Buds

Where Amazon Music Unlimited really sticks out is its affordability. If someone pays for Amazon Prime, they can get an individual plan of Amazon Music Unlimited for $7.99/month or $79/year. There's also a family plan available with support for up to six accounts, and that costs $14.99/month or $149/year. Where things get especially interesting is with Amazon's student and single device plans. The former allows eligible students to pay just $0.99/month for the service, while the latter offers full access on a single Echo or Fire TV for only $3.99/month. Amazon Music Unlimited is a great option for someone who already pays for Prime and wants to save on their music streaming.

Going from the cheapest alternative to the most expensive, there's Tidal. Tidal has focused on delivering the highest-quality audio since its debut in 2014, and that's something that's still very evident today. The music app offers HiFi sound quality at 1411kbps, master sound quality that ranges from 2304 - 9216kbps, Dolby Atmos, and Sony 360 Reality Audio. While Sony 360 Reality is available for virtually any smartphone + headphone combo, Dolby Atmos is limited to Android devices and select streaming devices/soundbars. In other words, iPhone and iPad users that want Dolby Atmos will want to stick with Apple Music.

In addition to the focus on high-end listening, Tidal also has all of the big features someone would expect from a modern streaming app. It includes more than 70 million songs, offline listening, exclusive videos/livestreams, and various personalized mixes based on someone's listening habits. Just like Spotify, Tidal gives users six versions of their My Mix with "different curations based on the styles of music you stream."

Related: Do You Need A Spotify Smart Player For The Car?

Where things get hairy for Tidal is with its price. Although the $9.99/month rate for Tidal Premium is comparable to any other individual plan, songs are limited to 320kbps playback. If someone wants HiFi + Master sound quality, Dolby Atmos, and Sony 360 Reality Audio, they'll need to cough up $19.99/month for Tidal HiFi. Tidal does offer discounts for families, students, first responders, and military, but it's still the priciest option on this list. The experience Tidal delivers is fantastic, but the value proposition will be a challenge for many people to overlook.

Any of the three services mentioned above can act as a great Spotify replacement, but who should pick which one and why? Let's start with Apple Music. For many people reading this, Apple Music will be the best overall alternative. It has virtually the same library of songs as Spotify, its mobile and desktop apps are excellent, there aren't any podcasts to clutter up the experience, and the fact that lossless + Dolby Atmos songs are included for free gives it a tangible edge over Spotify. The biggest downside to Apple Music is its lack of personal mixes. Subscribers do get five to choose from (Favorites, Get Up, Chill, New Music, and Friends Mixes), but they're updated much less frequently and aren't as varied as the countless ones Spotify provides. That one wrinkle aside, Apple Music has a lot to like.

Amazon Music Unlimited and Tidal aren't as easy overall recommendations, but each has a unique leg to stand on. For Amazon, it's the price. Being able to get an individual plan for just $7.99/month is a steal, especially considering that lossless audio is included in that price at no extra cost. The only downside is that the $7.99/month rate (and the $14.99/month family plan) is limited to Amazon Prime subscribers. Anyone without Prime will pay the usual $9.99/month. With a less visually pleasing app and a huge restriction for Dolby Atmos, that makes Apple Music the better pick for anyone that's not all-in on Amazon.

As for Tidal, it's the best choice for the person that 1) Wants access to the best audio formats, 2) Doesn't want to give Amazon or Apple any of their money, and 3) Is OK paying a high price for those things. Ignoring the cost, there's an argument to be made that Tidal is the best Spotify alternative period. It has a gorgeous app, high-quality song files, Dolby Atmos, and a My Mix system that's basically identical to Spotify's Daily Mixes. Unfortunately for Tidal, price is a big factor to consider. All of the three services have their pros and cons. Depending on each person's individual wants/needs, either one can be a phenomenal alternative to Spotify.

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