back to article On-demand streamed music services compared

As Microsoft Xbox Music upon the masses this week, streaming over 30 million songs to groovetastic gamers and Windows PC users, we decided to see how it stacks up against the competition. The market is awash with Spotify-style streaming services, which vary in catalogue numbers, mobile support, pricing and their respective …


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  1. Mike Brown

    I use music unlimited exclusivly now. The ps3/ios/android support is what attracted m,e. ihave used spotify and in the past. Music unlimited is the best in my opinion. "songs like this" is better i found some great tracks that way, but sonys offering since it usses the ps3 which is attached to my stereo anyway it wins. the andoid and ios otions just make it better too.

    1. phr0g

      I like Music Unlimited, but the quality is way down on that of Spotify. Also, the apps in Spotify are a big bonus IMO, as well as LastFM scrobbling support.

      WiMP in Nordic countries is also very high quality.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Been meaning to look up "scrobbling", as there's a checkbox for in in Poweramp.

        Wibblepedia: " builds a detailed profile of each user's musical taste by recording details of the songs the user listens to............This information is transferred ("scrobbled") to's database...........The data is then displayed on the user's profile page and also compiled........"

        Effectively another word for "data collection" then.

        That's supposed to be a plus? What is it about the world today that everyone seems to think that advertising their entire life on teh intahtoobs and going out of their way to let others compile a profile on them for their own nefarious purposes is a good idea?

        1. Bassey

          Re: Scrobbling

          This information is actually very useful - to you. use the list of music you listen to on a daily basis to make (very good) recommendations as to new music you might like. I have lost count of the wonderful new bands and CDs I have discovered through recommendations.

          If you don't want to hand over such information, that's fine. It is an option and the default is to leave it off. But, certainly in this instance, there actually IS a very good reason to turn it on. If you're the sort of person that actually enjoys new music, new directions and despairs of the generic shit forced down the public's throats by most commercial radio stations then it is an excellent system.

  2. Mostly_Harmless Silver badge

    Live 365

    My streaming music service of choice is Live365 - excellent selection, and reasonably proied IMO

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Music Unlimited

    It's quite good. saves buying. Takes some time for non-Sony new releases to appear though.

    Where's this 5 quid version you speak of? Have been paying 9.99 so far.....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Music Unlimited is the mutts nutts.

    Microsoft (as usual) are playing games with their claims of 30m titles. As if you look, lots of it are region specific, so their 30m is just the sum of all the regions. If you are a UK user, expect less than 10m.

    It's also about the content, rather than pure numbers. And with Sony owning so many labels, much of their music in Music Unlimited is exclusive to that platform (they of course have all the stuff the others have).

    So for me, Music Unlimited is where it's at.

    1. Mike Brown

      Re: Music Unlimited is the mutts nutts.

      i did wonder about that 30m figure. good old MS.

  5. MJI Silver badge

    What you get depends on what you have.

    I personally am not bothered about streaming music, but out of all of those only one would work with my HiFi at present.

  6. Dick Emery

    Region specific nonsense

    Do me a favour. Look up some of these artists in the UK on these services for me.

    Yoko Kanno

    Yuki Kajiura

    Akino Arai

    Ayumi Hamasaki




    I've & Kotoko

    Maaya Sakamoto



    Rie Tanaka

    Susumu Hirasawa

    The Indigo

    Utada Hikaru

    Granted these are mainly associated with anime soundtracks but most of them should come up on a search. If they don't appear (or have very little content) on the UK music services then I don't give a shit about ANY of these services. The problem is usually how region specific these services are and the stupid licensing issues. It's complete bollocks!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Deezer costs £5/£10 -

    Where does this idea that it's 5 CAD/10 CAD come from?

  8. brain_flakes

    Xbox Music compatibility

    Last I heard Xbox Music requires Windows 8 on the desktop, surely not working on anything other than that damned Metro interface is a pretty big disadvantage?

    1. SpitefulGOD

      Re: Xbox Music compatibility

      It uses Zune for windows 7 and prior

  9. Bub

    Napster - other platforms

    Why "N/A" for other platforms for Napster? It certainly works on Sonos for example.

  10. Richard Hodgson

    I still find it strange...

    ...that I'm paying Netflix £5.99 a month to stream hours high definition video to my PC and mobile, and paying Spotify a tenner to stream music to my PC and mobile, that are a fraction of the size - and not even streaming, when I use offline access, saving them bandwidth costs.

    I might have to give some of these alternatives a go, thanks El Reg!

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: I still find it strange...

      "...that I'm paying Netflix £5.99 a month to stream hours high definition video to my PC and mobile, and paying Spotify a tenner to stream music to my PC and mobile, that are a fraction of the size "

      Aside from it not being purely about bandwidth costs (movies and music are more complicated than that), most people with those subscriptions probably wont spend all day watching movies, but they will spend all day listening to music. Offline storage might impact that, but people will quite merrily download hundreds of songs, but they'll grab a movie or two a week to watch.

      1. Mike Brown

        Re: I still find it strange...

        more importantly there is a bit of a war going on between netflix and lovefilm. and i suppose sky movies. this will bring the proce down.

  11. Aberdeen Angus

    Other platforms......

    Spotify and Deezer both work on the Squeezebox devices. Also that Deezer runs in the browser but Spotify doesn't (yet) is worth a mention.

  12. CCCP
    Thumb Up

    Spotify premium works well for families. At least in mine.

    Everyone's play lists are available everywhere. The old gen 1 Touch that doesn't move still serves music for all. Kids can synch their tunes for the school bus etc. Sharing playlists with old friends overseas is just cool. A tenner seems reasonable value between four of us.

    Also, I've discovered quite a few tracks I like from my tweens. Even a few oldie 80s tunes going the other way.

    Buying mp3s or whatever now seems like the digital equivalent hassle of storing/looking after CDs. Since Spotify (2009 IIRC) iTunes haven't had a look in.

    Major gripe when tracks are removed though. Annoying, but not enough to force a move.

    Can't comment on the other services, as a move now is just too complicated. Dream lazy customer, I know.

    1. toadwarrior

      Re: Spotify premium works well for families. At least in mine.

      That "hassle" ensures I own my music so if I lose my job or something else goes wrong and money is tight means I'm not all of the sudden without music. You get the format you want, no DRM / region BS and CDs are cheaper than ever before.

      My hearing isn't even that good and I can tell difference between my quality rips and the stuff Amazon sells or pretty much everyone else streams. I guess if you don't really care about your music and think things like X factor are the high point of music then yeah streaming will be fine. For everyone else, the quality isn't there yet.

      1. squilookle


        I'm also a Spotify user and regarding your comments on the benefits of keeping your own music collection, I can say that I have been they and done that and it was pure ballache. Waiting for the CDs to rip, copying them to each new computer and new mp3 player I got. Making sure the tags were correct., and so on.

        And the best part, when I was in my late teens, early 20s I bought a lot of CDs thinking I would love the music forever and that owning it was important. I now have a box with hundreds of CDs which is in the way in my house, gathering dust, and waiting for me to get round to sorting them out and put them on ebay/music magpie or take them to a car boot sale or something...

        I do keep a small CD collection made up of my favourite artists and albums, but for everything else, Spotify is a godsend.

        Also, the quality is fine on my devices. No, I don't think the X Factor is the high point of music.

        Each to their own.

  13. GotThumbs

    I use MyCloud. It's actually my own large music ads.

    Using SubSonic, I'm able to stream my own music collection (+20GIGs) to my phone (Android), tablet (Xoom), work computer or any other web connected device. I have a WHS at the house and run SubSonic service. Setup the Port and just go to my WHS site and add the specific port to the address. I can login through a browser or simply use the app to stream days of music. Any new music is simply added to the server and thus available to me anywhere.

    I prefer not to use pandora due to ads and even though I have some decent local stations, the random play feature does the job for me.

    No need to upload my music collection to some companies "Cloud" service. I just created my own cloud.

    1. GotThumbs

      Re: I use MyCloud. It's actually my own large music ads.

      fyi. SubSonic will also run on your main desktop if you don't yet have a home server. It will work with Macs, PCs, etc.

      You may be interested in what it takes to have your own server. It's really not that difficult and an old pc will do the job just fine. There are some free server OS options, but you can buy MS WHS2011 for around 50.00 and you get a web address with no annual fees.

      I've got an Atom powered ITX board, 2gigs Ram, 4T HD storage. It's been running 24/7 for over 3 years now and no failures (knock on wood). I do regular backups to an external drive as a safety backup.

      one last note....SubSonic allows streaming of your videos in addition to your music collection.

      It's just a pretty cool solution for people who prefer not to use Pandora like services.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Audio Quality

    Deezer and WE7 (tesco) work well, WE7 tend to have better audio quality. Both work with a UK designed and produced hifi product, so not just Web / mobile, which makes them really useful too. See last month's Stuff mag for a review.

    There are several network streaming hifi products for home use too which allow access to such music services including TuneIn radio stations, with the benefit of also playing back local digital media - if you have such. For me the Sonos kit is just too plastic sounding.

    Then their is airplay allowing almost any iOS app based streaming service to be listened to in better quality than the naff laptop speakers / dr dre headphones (with BOOF BOOF BOOF base) etc. Airplay speakers now range from less then £100 upto things like the B&O beo play a9 (sky dish anyone?) around £2k

    Don't gorget Amazon Music and Google Play / WiMP / Simfy / Aupeo / etc.

    When these services start streaming at 16/44 then things may get even more interesting.

  15. Roby

    Can you really describe Spotify as free with ads if it has the excessive "5 plays of a track in your entire life" policy? If they made it per month, per year, or even per decade I could accept it, but since it never expires I just refuse to use it.

    I was actually a paying customer, but I decided I didn't want to invest in creating playlists and letting it learn about my tastes if they introduced such a terrible policy to the free version. Who knows what other terrible ideas they might have in the future? And what if I ever had a month without paying - perhaps a month where I knew I wasn't going to use it as much. The knowledge of forever locking out a favourite song in the free version would cause me to be terrified of using the free one, which makes Spotify useless for occasional users who would probably be a good source of money over time and would be invested in your software meaning you would have a source of customers for advertising and who could potentially become full-time paying users. As it is, they've totally blocked that market out and made such users turn to piracy.

    1. brain_flakes


      Yeah they should carry on offering a comprehensive free service, even if it means they go out of business because the licensing costs are prohibitive!

      1. Roby

        Re: Economics

        I understand that they have to satisfy record labels and need to make a profit. My issue is not with either of those, it's with their implementation of it. I would be happy with more restrictions, more adverts, one play per <unit of time> or five plays per <bigger unit of time> or just about anything else than what they did. It's the locking out of a song FOREVER that that I just completely disagree with on principle.

  16. Dave 126 Silver badge

    My XBOX makes so much noise that I din't think I could hear any music over it. Damned thing is like a wind tunnel.

    I believe newer versions are quieter, though.

  17. bailey86

    Thought I'd mention - free with ads - or for $5pm you can stream 256Kbps and no ads - and the music is great. As a Brucie bonus you get access to streams as well which is a much wider choice of genres.

    Next plan - if money allows - Galaxy 10.1 - streaming via bluetooth/aptx to hi-fi or bedroom speakers. Hi-fi streaming to quality speakers from a tablet - sounds pretty good to me. Should have the likes of Sonos worried!

    1. Gareth.
      Thumb Up

      Re: Thought I'd mention

      Another Digitally Imported fan here but I listen more to After Hours, or, these days.

    2. Mark Collins

      Re: Thought I'd mention

      " - free with ads - or for $5pm you can stream 256Kbps and no ads - and the music is great. As a Brucie bonus you get access to streams as well which is a much wider choice of genres."

      There is a VERY restricted range of music on there - no metal to speak of!

      XFactor wannabee dance rubbish! At least the others have variety INCLUDING metal!

      1. bailey86

        Re: Thought I'd mention

        Don't forget - subscription gets you full access as well.

        As someone who likes Rammstein more than is healthy I can can say that is pretty good. I like the Modern Rock one myself - and there is one labelled 'Metal'.

  18. Gareth.

    Soundrop app for Spotify

    Just thought I'd also use this as an opportunity to recommend everyone who uses Spotify give the Soundrop app a try. I've been using it for a few weeks now and have discovered loads of new artists as a result.

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