How To Choose The Right Streaming Music Service — A Guide

It's going to be an interesting year in online music. The all-you-can-stream music subscription space is set to heat up, with rumored Spotify competitors from Google and Amazon potentially in the offing and an already-huge European service called Deezer planning to launch in the U.S. 

In the meantime, there are already a number of music subscription services to choose from, depending on where you live. None of them are perfect. Spotify and Rdio generally the lead the pack, each with its own impressively massive library of music. Spotify wins points over Rdio for letting you import your own MP3s, whereas Rdio's interface design, especially on mobile, is vastly superior to that of any other offering.

Then there are solid offerings from Grooveshark and MOG, both of which face an uncertain future, for completely different reasons. MOG was acquired by headphone maker Beats Audio, which plans to launch a new service called Daisy this year. Meanwhile, Grooveshark has faced a barrage of lawsuits from record labels, who accuse the startup of copyright infringement, but remains standing... for now.

Which service is right for you? It depends on how much you value things like audio control, design aesthetics, music selection and user control. 

A year from now, the landscape may well look totally different and we'll be updating this post accordingly. For now, here's a comparison of the major all-you-can-stream music services. 

 

Spotify

Number of Songs: 20 million
Price (monthly): Free for desktop (limited) / $5 - $10 for premium
Geographic Availability: 23 countries (mostly western Europe & U.S.)
Mobile Platforms: iOS (iPhone & iPad), Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 8, Symbian
Offline Syncing: Yes
Sound Quality (bit rate): 160 kbps on desktop & "low bandwidth" mobile; 320 kbps option on mobile
Web App: Yes
Killer Features: Ability to import local MP3s; 3rd party add-on apps are excellent
Users: 24 million
 

Rdio

Number of Songs: 20 million
Price (monthly): Free for desktop (limited) / $5 - $10 for premium
Geographic Availability: 24 countries (mostly western Europe & The Americas)
Mobile Platforms: iOS (iPhone & iPad), Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry
Offline Syncing: Yes
Sound Quality (bit rate): 192 kbps
Web App: Yes
Killer Features: Vastly superior UI design
Users: Unknown 
 

Deezer

Number of Songs: 20 million
Price (monthly): Free for desktop (limited) / $5 - $10 for premium
Geographic Availability: 182 countries (U.S. launch expected in 2013)
Mobile Platforms: iOS (iPhone & iPad), Android, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry
Offline Syncing: Yes
Sound Quality (bit rate): Up to 320kbps
Web App: Yes
Killer Features: Ability to import local MP3s
Users: 26 million 
 

Rhapsody

Number of Songs: 16 million
Price (monthly): $10
Geographic Availability: U.S. only
Mobile Platforms: iOS (iPhone & iPad), Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry
Offline Syncing: Yes
Sound Quality (bit rate): 128 kbps - 192 kbps on desktop; 64kbps on mobile
Web App: Yes
Killer Features: Sells high bitrate MP3s for download
Users: 1 million (paid)

Grooveshark

Number of Songs: 13.2 million
Price (monthly): Free (unlimited) / $9 per month for premium 
Geographic Availability: Everywhere but Germany and Denmark
Mobile Platforms: HTML5 Web app, plus Android and an unofficial Windows Phone app
Offline Syncing: No
Sound Quality (bit rate): Varies
Web App: Yes
Killer Features: More fluid catalog with rare (and sometimes unauthorized) material
Users: 20 million monthly uniques (not the same as registered users)


MOG

Number of Songs: 16 million
Price (monthly): Free for desktop  / $5 -10 for premium
Geographic Availability: United States and Australia
Mobile Platforms: iOS and Android
Offline Syncing: Yes
Sound Quality (bit rate): 320 kbps
Web App: Yes
Killer Features: Streams are high quality audio by default
Users: 500,000