New Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers can get three months for free right now

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Right now, new Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers can get the first three months of the premium streaming tier for free.

For those unfamiliar, Music Unlimited service, which competes with Apple Music and Spotify, allows subscribers to stream over 60 million songs, which is a huge step up over the two million songs that the company offers to all Prime members through its free Prime Music service.

With this offer, new subscribers are ostensibly getting a service valued at $30 for free. Better still, you can cancel the service at any time. So if you want to listen to music for free for 3 months, and cancel before spending any money – you have that option.

However, if you enjoyed the three-month offer and want to continue, it costs $8 a month or $10 per month for non-Prime members.

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) and 1 month of Amazon Music Unlimited (medium)

Alternatively, Amazon is giving away a month of Amazon Music Unlimited and an Echo Dot for a low $13. This particular Echo Dot typically sells for around $20, so this is a terrific alternative if you want to grow your smart home.

Though there is a new fourth-generation Dot on the market, we think that the third-generation Echo Dot is still the best entry-level smart-home hub you can buy. For less than half the price of the standard Echo, you get a hockey puck-sized gadget that can help you control your lights with your voice, answer questions about the universe, and connect to external speakers through a Bluetooth signal.

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The 5 best music streaming services you can subscribe to in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Music streaming services give you access to millions of songs for a monthly subscription fee.
  • Spotify is the best service for most people thanks to its big selection, features, and free plan.

Music listening has come a long way over the past few decades. Gone are the days when you had to buy CDs, vinyl records, or cassette tapes. You don’t even have to buy digital downloads anymore. These days, you can simply sign up to a music streaming service and have on-demand access to all the music you’ll ever need on a device that sits in your pocket.

Of course, there are quite a few music streaming services out there, and they’re all a little different. Because of that, it can be hard to find the service that’s perfect for your needs.

When deciding which music service to get, it’s worth considering a few things. For starters, you’ll want to make sure that there’s an app for your chosen streaming platform on every device you use for music listening. You’ll also want to consider things like streaming audio quality and support for extra features, like digital assistants, music videos, lyrics, playlist sharing, and more.

Still figuring out which music streaming service is for you? We’ve done the research and testing so you don’t have to.

Here are the best music streaming services:

The best music service overall

Spotify

Spotify has a ton of music and audio content, along with a free streaming option and support for a range of devices.

Pros: Huge library of songs, podcasts, app support on many devices, free option, collaborative playlists, group listening

Cons: No live content, no lossless audio option yet (coming soon)

Looking for a music streaming service that has a huge range of songs and is compatible with all your devices? Spotify is the way to go. Spotify has apps for all major platforms — including iOS, Android, and your preferred web browser. There’s a free, ad-based plan that you can use for as long as you like, but ad-free streaming requires a monthly subscription.

One of the perks of Spotify is its focus on discovery and playlist curation. This includes the service’s playlist “enhance” button that lets you add similar songs to existing playlists. The app lets you filter songs by mood and genre, too. Spotify is also planning to add a “recently played” list to show songs you’ve heard over the past three months.

The service also has podcasts and video content, plus it streams music in up to a 320Kbps, which should be good enough for the majority of listeners. If that quality isn’t to your liking, however, Spotify does plan to introduce a CD-quality option, called Spotify HiFi, later this year. 

New subscribers to the Spotify Premium, Duo, or Family plans can receive a one-month free trial period. 

The best music service for Apple devices

Apple Music

Apple Music works beautifully on Apple devices, plus there’s an app for it across a range of platforms, including Android.

Pros: Large selection, live radio, excellent integration with Apple devices, curated playlists, three-month trial, discounted bundle with other Apple services

Cons: No free version, no lossless audio option

If you use an iPhone and other Apple products, then it’s worth considering Apple Music. Apple Music integrates perfectly with Apple’s hardware and software, plus it’s well-designed and works with your existing library of iTunes music.

One of the best things about Apple Music is that it integrates with Siri and the Apple Watch seamlessly, plus it can be played on a HomePod without issue. In other words, if you have other Apple devices, then Apple Music is probably the most convenient service to go for.

Apple Music has a nice selection of content, too. Apart from on-demand songs, the service offers the Apple Music 1 radio station and some exclusive music.

Though Apple Music was initially missing a web browser option, Apple now allows subscribers to use the service through internet browsers on computers and laptops without having to install a separate app. 

If you want to tap into what your friends are listening to, Apple Music also offers curated playlists for that, as well as other playlists for new music, personal favorites, and more.

New members can receive a free three-month trial. That’s two months longer than the trial period that Spotify Premium offers. Unlike Spotify, however, Apple Music does not offer a free version with ads. 

The best music service for audiophiles

Tidal

Tidal HiFi is available on a range of platforms, plus it offers much better audio quality than the majority of other music streaming services out there.

Pros: Excellent audio quality with lossless playback, available on a range of platforms, exclusive content, includes music videos

Cons: No free version, missing some features, HiFi plan is expensive

Tidal is a little different from other music streaming services in that it’s targeted toward those who want a higher resolution audio experience — and as such, it provides excellent sound quality. 

While Tidal offers a Premium plan that uses the same 320Kbps bitrate that Spotify uses, Tidal also has a HiFi plan that steps things up to a whopping 1,411Kbps in the lossless FLAC format. This means that you get to listen to music in full CD-quality exactly as it was meant to be heard. The HiFi plan also includes Tidal Masters, a feature with songs at a bitrate between 2304 and 9216Kbps.  

Tidal is also known for streaming some notable exclusive content. Albums like Jay-Z’s “4:44” and Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” were first launched on Tidal. There are also music videos and other behind-the-scenes content, too.

When it comes to other lossless music options, Tidal has some competition from Amazon’s Music HD plan. This service offers similar audio quality for a lower price of $15 a month. Unlike Tidal, however, Amazon Music HD doesn’t include videos. Music HD is also available on fewer devices and it lacks the exclusive releases that Tidal features.

The best music service for Amazon Prime members

Amazon Music

Amazon Music Unlimited integrates perfectly with Alexa and offers discounts for Prime subscribers or Echo owners.

Pros: Discounts for Amazon Prime members, large selection, Alexa integration

Cons: No content other than music

If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you might want to save a few bucks and go for Amazon’s music subscription service, Amazon Music Unlimited.

Prime subscribers already get access to Prime Music with their membership, but if you want a more comprehensive music selection, then it’s worth stepping things up to Music Unlimited, which offers a bigger library of songs.

Music Unlimited is available on a range of platforms, including iOS, Android, and the web. The service is tightly integrated with Amazon’s Alexa, so if you have an Echo or other Alexa product, it’ll work perfectly.

New members usually receive a free 30-day trial, but for a limited time, Amazon is offering a three-month trial. After the trial, your subscription will automatically continue for the regular monthly price unless you decide to cancel.

When it comes to audio quality, Music Unlimited streams at 256Kbps. Music Unlimited doesn’t offer any non-music content, but apart from that, it’s a solid service for those plugged into the Amazon ecosystem.

For those who want lossless audio, Amazon also offers a Music HD plan with support for high resolution playback. 

The best music service for Android users

YouTube Music

YouTube Music has a decent library of songs, plus it integrates very well with Google’s other apps and services, including Google Assistant. 

Pros: Interesting playlists, good integration with Google services, free version available

Cons: Doesn’t integrate with Alexa, no lossless audio option

YouTube Music is the way to go if you’re really plugged into Google’s ecosystem of products. In other words, if you have an Android phone and want your music streaming service to integrate well with Google Assistant, then YouTube Music is a convenient option.

It’s also available on iOS and on the web, so you should be able to access the service wherever you are. The platform even offers location-based playlists and the ability to search for songs based on lyrics.

YouTube Music isn’t perfect, but Google has been working on making it better. The app doesn’t really integrate with other voice assistants like Alexa, so if you have an Echo you’ll be stuck with playing music through the Bluetooth connection on your phone. With that said, the service does now support Siri. 

Like Spotify, YouTube Music offers a free, ad-supported version. New subscribers also get a one-month trial to test out the ad-free Premium plan. 

If you’re interested in bundling ad-free YouTube Music and YouTube video streaming, you can package the two services together under a YouTube Premium plan for $12 a month. YouTube Premium also includes exclusive video content. Since this option is only $2 more than Music Premium is on its own, it’s a better value for music fans who also like to watch YouTube videos.

What is HiFi music?

iFi Audio DAC lifestyle

Most music streaming services offer base plans that feature songs presented with “lossy” compression. This means that some of the original audio recording’s quality is being sacrificed to make the file smaller and easier to stream. In other words, standard streaming audio isn’t equal to the quality you’d hear on an actual CD.

Though this loss in quality is hard to notice for the average listener, most audiophiles demand “lossless” music that preserves the full range of the original track. This is where “HiFi” music streaming comes in.

Different platforms brand their lossless audio plans under different names, including HiFi, HD Music, and Hi-Res Music. Though there are some differences between them, they all generally refer to streaming audio tracks that are presented in at least CD-quality. 

Tidal and Amazon Music HD are some of the most popular services with lossless audio options, making them a better fit for listeners who want the very best quality. Spotify will also add a CD-quality plan later this year. 

On the downside, lossless audio streaming requires more bandwidth so you’ll need a fast internet connection and big data plan. To take full advantage of the audio quality benefits you’ll also need a nice pair of headphones and a dedicated digital-to-analog converter, or a high-end set of speakers.

You can learn more about lossless audio formats in our guide to HD audio.

Check out our related buying guides

Apple Airpods

If you’re signing up for a music streaming service, chances are you’ll need a reliable media player or smartphone to access the app, along with a nice pair of speakers or headphones to actually listen to your favorite tracks on.

With that in mind, we’ve highlighted some of our other buying guides for streaming players, mobile devices, headphones, and speakers that are sure to come in handy for anyone who wants to stream music.  

The best streaming sticks and boxes


The best smartphones


The best cheap headphones


The best noise-cancelling headphones


 The best true wireless earbuds


The best speakers


The best Bluetooth speakers


The best digital-to-analog converters

 

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Amazon Music and Spotify are both reliable music streaming services, but Spotify’s personalization features make it a better fit for most people

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Google Hangouts vs Zoom 4x3
  • A good music streaming service is key to keep up with all the latest songs.
  • Amazon Music and Spotify are two of the most popular platforms you can subscribe to.
  • Both have big catalogs but Spotify’s playlists and sharing options are the best fit for most people.

Music Unlimited (small)Music Service (small)Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

There’s never been a better time to jump in and commit to a music streaming service than right now. The ability to save nearly any song to your library for on-demand listening at home or on the go is a game-changer. Spotify and Amazon Music are great services in this regard and both are well worth considering.

Each platform has around 70 million songs available, along with their own set of features. Both have apps for iPhones, Android smartphones, computers, and other popular devices so you’ll be able to listen in dozens of ways.

That said, there are a few differences that could make one service a better fit over the other. We compared the two across a variety of categories to help you decide which is right for you.

Amazon Music vs Spotify: which is better?

Spotify may be the world’s most popular streaming music service, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider Amazon Music. Both have a lot to offer in the unique features they provide.

In fact, Amazon Music appears to be trying hard to differentiate itself in the world of streaming by offering a plan with higher fidelity tracks, along with some nice perks for Amazon Prime members. Spotify, meanwhile, sticks to standard music bitrates and streamlined subscription offerings, which could make it a more convenient solution for people who just need a casual music listening service.

Let’s take a look at how each stacks up against the other in some key areas.

Feature comparison

Amazon Music Spotify
Monthly cost: Free-$20 Free-$15
Song catalog size: Around 70 million songs Around 70 million songs
High-fidelity music: Paid upgrade Coming later this year
Notable features: X-Ray lyrics, Alexa voice assistant Best in class playlists, podcast support
Platforms supported: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Web iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Web

Pricing and plans

Amazon Echo Light

Both Spotify and Amazon Music can be used for free, but the free tiers are significantly limited and largely amount to Internet radio on mobile. As is common, both services allow for 30-day trials to test their paid versions.

Spotify plans

The paid plans and pricing for Spotify are streamlined compared to Amazon. Plans include: Free, Premium, Premium Duo, and Premium Family, and Premium Student.

Spotify’s ad-supported plan is completely free. This option lets you listen to any song through the desktop app, but you do have to deal with constant ads. If you don’t want commercials, you can choose one of Spotify’s Premium plans. The more expensive options allow you to add more users, so multiple people in the same household can listen at the same time.

Spotify Free Spotify Premium Spotify Premium Duo Spotify Premium Family
Monthly price: Free $10 $13 $15
Ad-free music: No Yes Yes Yes
Accounts: One One Two Six
Song catalog: 70 million 70 million 70 million 70 million
CD-quality: No No No No

Students can also take advantage of a discounted Premium rate of just $5 a month. As a bonus, this plan also comes with a complimentary Hulu and Showtime subscription.

Amazon Music plans

Amazon Music features a few more options than Spotify. Plans include: Free, Included with Prime, Unlimited, Unlimited Family, Echo, and HD.

Amazon Music’s completely free option doesn’t let you listen to specific songs on-demand. Instead it offers an experience more like streaming radio with ads.

If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you get access to an expanded music service, called Amazon Prime Music, as part of your subscription. This plan is ad-free and has on-demand access to around 2 million songs. For access to Amazon’s full library of songs, however, you need to upgrade to a Music Unlimited plan for an extra fee.

Amazon Music Amazon Prime Music Amazon Music Unlimited Amazon Music Unlimited Family Amazon Music HD
Monthly price: Free Free with Amazon Prime $8 with Prime, $10 without $15 with Prime $13 with Prime, $15 without
Ad-free music: No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Accounts: One One One Six One
Song catalog: Select playlists and stations 2 million 70 million 70 million 70 million
CD-quality: No No No No Yes

Music Unlimited also offers the option to restrict streaming to a single Amazon device for a reduced fee. You can give a single, eligible Echo device access to Music Unlimited for just $4 a month (instead of the standard $10).

Audio quality

Spotify and Amazon Music both provide similar quality for their free and standard plans. Music streaming is compressed to reduce size and data requirements, but most people listening on mobile devices and earbuds likely won’t notice any major quality issues.

Where Amazon has an edge on Spotify, however, is with its Music HD plan. This higher priced option is designed for audiophiles and features CD-quality streaming that preserves the full range of the original recording. Some tracks are even provided in Ultra HD, which exceeds the specifications for CD-quality.

Amazon Music HD’s superior quality will be noticeable for some people, but to fully take advantage of the increased sound performance you’ll need expensive speakers or headphones.

Though Spotify doesn’t currently offer a CD-quality plan, the service will be adding that option, called Spotify HiFi, later this year.

Interface

spotify app
Spotify features an easy to use desktop app.

The look and feel of both streaming services is similar. Amazon and Spotify each feature a navigation bar across the bottom of their mobile apps with a home screen, search, and collected library of music.

While most people use music services through their mobile devices, both Spotify and Amazon Music do offer desktop apps as well. This is where the two experiences differ. Spotify’s desktop app is decent and has been refined over more than a decade. In March 2021, the streaming service announced it updated its desktop app’s interface to allow offline downloads and give “more control” for creating playlists.

The Amazon Music desktop app, on the other hand, is very utilitarian. The interface on a Mac is unintuitive and completely unlike its mobile app counterpart. For instance, the design makes it difficult to use the listening queue mechanism.

Amazon Music’s web interface is better and simpler to use. In Spotify’s case, it’s definitely an advantage to have such a solid desktop app.

Performance and features

Amazon Music Alexa feature
The Amazon Music mobile app offers integrated support for Alexa voice control.

On a macro level, Spotify and Amazon Music are closely aligned. For example, the catalog of songs available to listen to hardly varies at all, and any exclusives are mostly negligible. Each service does have its own set of features to set itself apart though.

For Amazon Music, its mobile app includes its Alexa voice assistant built-in. This functionality means that all music controls can be performed via hands-free voice commands. The version of Alexa accessible through the music app can also perform other skills. For example, you can ask Alexa to control smart lights the same as you would through an Echo. Spotify does offer a “Hey Spotify” feature that lets its members use their voice to find artists and songs, but its functionality isn’t as robust as Alexa.

The Amazon Music app’s other main feature includes X-Ray lyrics. This is a neat and genuinely helpful feature that allows lyrics to scroll by as the song plays for a karaoke-like experience.

Merch pages are also now attached to select artists’ profiles on Amazon Music to make it easier to buy their merchandise right from the Music app. Amazon Music introduced Car Mode in April 2021, as well, to provide a simplified, minimal interface for commuters.

Though these Amazon features are appealing, Spotify still has a clear edge when it comes to its great music algorithms, which the service puts to use in the form of personal playlists. “Discover Weekly” and other playlists definitely set the music service apart from others. If you don’t know what to listen to, you don’t have to suffer through generic radio.

Spotify also allows filters based on genres and moods. Playlists have an “enhance” button too, which can add random songs that are similar to the ones you’ve already included. A “recently played” option is also in the works that will allow users to look back at their past three months of streaming.

When it comes to travel and commuting, Spotify features integrations with Google Maps and Waze, as well as a dedicated car interface with big buttons to keep your music listening safe on the road.

More so than any other music service, Spotify has become a social network over the years and allows you to follow friends and easily share songs back and forth. This works well because it’s the world’s largest music platform and has the most listeners who will gladly click on a link you share.

The bottom line

A few years ago, the question of whether you should use Spotify versus Amazon Music was an easy choice. Now in 2021, that choice isn’t as clear cut. The good news is that both services offer compelling features at reasonable prices.

Ultimately, Spotify is still the best choice for most people. While Amazon Music has a wider assortment of pricing options which may fit a specific need more than Spotify, those who just want convenient music streaming will likely be more than satisfied with Spotify’s simplified offerings. Amazon Music is an appealing option for people who are already Prime members, but Spotify is a better fit if you’re not interested in paying for other Amazon perks.

For the standard $10 a month price, Spotify provides a feature-rich experience that covers all you can listen to across mobile, desktop, and connected speakers.

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