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Here is Your Ultimate Guide to Music Streaming Services

For a monthly fee, you can have access to a massive library of music to listen to whenever you want. Whether you prefer a streaming radio station or you’d rather create your own playlists, there’s a monthly service that will fit your listening needs. Compare five of the most popular monthly music streaming services, below.

Spotify

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Unlike many other streaming music services, Spotify offers an incredible collection of music with their free version. You’ll have to deal with banner ads on the app and audio ads periodically interrupting your playlist, but the trade off is worth it for those looking for a completely free option.

With a paid monthly subscription, that music is all available offline. Create playlists from your account on the web player, or on your phone or tablet. Each week, Spotify will use your listening habits from the week to create a customized Discover Weekly playlist with new songs and artists that match your music preferences.

Spotify is ideal for students. The service offers a discounted monthly fee on the premium subscription for college students. They’ve also partnered with Hulu, so students students signing up for the student plan will also have access to a Hulu Limited plan, for a total of $4.99 per month.

Apple Music

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Those who already have a collection of music on iTunes, or who use Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad, will most likely prefer Apple Music. A highlight of Apple Music is the ease of combining your current downloaded music collection with the library of music available with your monthly subscription. When your music syncs, you can customize playlists, add them to your offline library, and listen any time.

With Apple’s huge library of music, you might want to explore what’s outside of your collection of favorite artists and genres. In the Browse tab, you’ll find playlists curated by Apple Music. You can also browse by genre, check out new releases, and see what’s trending on the charts.

If you’re not in the mood to search out or create a custom playlist, a radio feature will stream continuous music. Click on the Radio tab and scroll through a list of stations. Beats 1 is Apple’s live, 24/7 radio station. Listen in to hear the station’s DJs and a variety of radio shows.

Amazon Music Unlimited

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The simplicity of the Amazon Unlimited service will be appealing to many users, but the service seems to be tailored specifically for Echo users. Those who already have an Echo connected in their home will appreciate how easy it is to play music, just by telling Alexa what you’re looking for.

Where other services recommend new music and promote new artists and albums, Amazon tailors your recommendations completely based on what you’ve been listening to. That means that the more you use the service, the better your recommendations will be.

Amazon is still relatively new to the unlimited streaming music game, but the company has plans to continue growing, to get on the same level as competing services. That includes bringing in artists who will provide their music exclusively to Amazon users. For now, those who are loyal to Amazon services and especially those who use the Echo will be the best audience.

Pandora

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Pandora was on top when it came to internet radio, but was overshadowed by streaming services that were able to offer more customized options and updated features. Now, Pandora is making changes that are making it a more exciting option while keeping a format that users are familiar with. The company is still naming its Music Genome Project as the power behind recommendations and personalized stations.

Upgrading from a free account to Pandora Plus eliminates ads between songs and gives the option of skipping an unlimited number of songs. You’ll also be able to listen to up to four of your stations offline.

The next step up, Pandora Premium, is the option that will allow Pandora to compete with the big names in unlimited music streaming. With Premium, you can still use the normal Pandora radio service, but you’ll also have the option to create your own customized playlists. Premium also allows you to download your music and listen wherever, whenever.

Slacker Radio

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Slacker calls itself “the best kept secret in music” and the die hard users of the service tend to agree. The company is focused on helping music lovers find new content while creating custom stations. As soon as you start listening to your favorite artists, Slacker will get to work on finding and recommending new artists. Just go to your recommended tab to see what they have lined up for you.

If you’re feeling stuck in a musical rut, check out Slack Radio Stations. You’ll find information about new artists, newly released albums, and a list of curated radio stations. While you listen, whether you’re using the website or the app, you can rate each song with like and dislike icons. Slack will use that feedback to build your customized recommendations. When you’re not in the mood for music, check out the news and sports stations.

A clean, simple, and easy to use interface makes Slacker user friendly. It doesn’t come with all of the best features from competing music services, but many will still prefer the more minimal setup.

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