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Fewer people are buying music now than ever before. While music piracy has a lot to do with this trend, so too do music streaming services such as Spotify and Rdio. Why pay several dollars per album when you can pay several dollars a month for access to thousands of albums?

So, music streaming services are big business, and they’re only set to grow more popular as time goes on. But wait. With so many music streaming services available, how do we know which is best? By listening to the collected wisdom of the MakeUseOf readership, of course.

Your Say On Apple Pay

To answer this week’s question please scroll down the page until you see the poll staring back at you. But first, we need to look at the results from last week, when we asked, “Will You Ever Use Apple Pay?

Out of a total of 405 votes, 41.4% chose “No, I don’t own an iPhone“, 24.2% chose “Yes, I plan to do so in the future“, 16.1% chose “No, I don’t trust the security“, 15.8% chose “Yes, I am already using Apple Pay“, and 2.5% asked, “What is Apple Pay?

When the answers are combined, 57.5 percent voted for No, 40 percent voted for Yes, and 2.5 percent voted for ignorance (I jest!). This is all rather positive for Apple, because were these results to be repeated across the real world, Apple Pay would have taken off in a big way. Certainly in a bigger way than Google Wallet Google Launches Google Wallet. Not For Everybody! [News] Google Launches Google Wallet. Not For Everybody! [News] Google officially launched its mobile payment system Google Wallet yesterday, and it could very well change how we pay for merchandise and services. For now, the Google Wallet is only set up for Sprint Nexus... Read More and the other rival mobile payments systems.

apple-pay-poll-results

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Comment Of The Week

We received a lot of great comments, including those from Bruce, Jayjay, and likefunbutnot. Comment Of The Week goes to Dan, who earns our admiration and affection for this comment:

I don’t, won’t, and can’t use Apple Pay because I don’t own an iPhone.

Having said that, I am a heavy user of Google Wallet, including NFC payments when I’m able (which in my town is a grocery chain with a single liquor store location), Walgreen’s, and Home Depot. I think Home Depot may have recently disabled NFC due to being scared and incompetent. Fortunately I shop at the other two options a ridiculous amount so I get to use my phone fairly often (and therefore evangelize when asked questions!)

I want these payment options to succeed because they reduce the amount of crap I have to carry around in a wallet, and while the security is not perfect it’s pretty great: Google Wallet pays with a single-use Mastercard number and then a bit later charges my real options stored in Wallet. When it comes to card transaction security, I think virtual numbers go a long way even if the merchant’s security is sub-par.

Anyway, I know this was a poll regarding Apple Pay but I just want to encourage everybody I meet to try and use NFC payments so that it proliferates.

We chose this comment because it’s a passionate argument for why mobile payments systems should succeed. The fact that this commenter uses Google Wallet rather than Apple Pay is a solid reminder that Apple wasn’t the first company to offer such a service, despite what some of the more-blinkered tech press would have us believe.

Don’t Cross The Streams!

It isn’t difficult to see why music streaming services Which Is The Best Mobile Music Streaming Service? Which Is The Best Mobile Music Streaming Service? Online radio is picking up steam now that there’s a good bit of competition driving the technology. You might be familiar with services like Pandora and Spotify, but now that you can stream music on-the-go... Read More are so popular. Here is a way of gaining access to more music than you could ever hope to listen to in one lifetime, and all for the price of buying one album every month.

One of the downsides to using a music streaming service The Pros And Cons Of Streaming vs Downloading MP3s The Pros And Cons Of Streaming vs Downloading MP3s I've been a long-time user of streaming music services – from Pandora, to the now defunct online music locker Lala.com, and now as a monthly subscriber to Rdio.com. If you have a computer and a... Read More is that you never actually own any of the music to which you enjoy listening, essentially renting access to it instead. But unless you’re a relentless hoarder who wants countless shelves packed full of CDs, this shouldn’t be a problem. Unless and until the service you use shuts down… damn.

There are dozens of these services vying for your credit card details, so you should choose the one you think is best, whether value for money, the number of songs, or customer service is what does it for you personally.

We want you to tell us which music streaming service you consider to be the best, and why you prefer your choice over the plethora of competition.

Please vote in the poll above, and then explain in the comments below why you voted that way. The best Comment of the Week will win our everlasting admiration and affection. Well, at least until we meet back here again this time next week.

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  1. Philip
    July 15, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Google Play music easy winner. I had spotify for 5 years and after trying it for a week I was sold... it's a much cleaner interface in google, links to youtube videos in songs, play youtube in background on phone, no youtube ads, and best of all save entire music library to the cloud. Spotify's got thing on them honestly, other than them being a small startup company to support., and the fact that their pc player is app based instead of browser.

  2. Praveen
    February 14, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Try Saavn! :)

    http://www.saavn.com/

  3. Anonymous
    June 12, 2015 at 8:12 am

    You should try this: Music streaming service with catalog for artists, albums, tracks, etc. like spotify and other paid services, but free and legal: https://music.cliggo.com

  4. Richie
    November 14, 2014 at 2:02 am

    I vouch for Spotify because of its ability to allow you to choose what you wish to listen to. Sure, it has all the other amenities (radio stations, recommendations, favorite artists, following groups and friends, etc.) that other things have, but my biggest selling point is being able to curate my own playlists as well as making collaborative playlists (if you are part of a group of like-minded music enthusiasts or share Spotify lists with your friends, etc.).
    And if you pay for it, you can take those on the go so that you can even listen to your playlists offline provided you are okay with taking up some hard drive space on your device. Even nicer is that those playlists aren't locked, so you can freely still choose whatever songs you have on hand like your standard MP3 player out of those lists.

  5. Rjnaranjo
    November 10, 2014 at 2:34 am

    I love Google Play Music All Access, Because is more easy for use and have a nice GUI, also work based on your music taste, Discovery new music, can create a radio station and share your playlist. Google play music have songza api, its good because you can listen the music depending how you feel or what activity are you do, plus , its have a great Cloud storage for if you need upload a song that not appeared on google play music .

  6. Aunty Proton
    November 7, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    I listen to SomaFM's Deep Space One stream and love it so much I set up a monthly donation. Also use Pandora but not.nearly as much as I used to. Otherwise, my own MP3 collection.

  7. Dave Parrack
    November 6, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Discovering new music is a big plus with all of these services. They act in the same way radio used to do. It still does, of course, but to a lesser extent.

  8. musiclover
    November 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I have been using Amazon music for free and like it. I don't know that I would ever pay a monthly fee for streaming because I have a large mp3 collection (from ripped albums and CDs over the years). Also for the reason I like to sit in the comfort of my home, relaxed, with great sound and possibly with a beer in hand to really get the best listening experience possible. I will say I do like services like Jamendo, Pandora & Last.fm to discover new music.

  9. A41202813GMAIL
    November 5, 2014 at 4:49 am

    JANGO And SONGS.

    Cheers.

  10. COMPrehension
    November 3, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Grooveshark.com Hands down. No bs, unlimited skips, hardly nags you, no ads and its 100% free with no sign in needed. Can search for any song, album, artist. Has a nice playlist bar at the bottom where you can easily add/remove songs/albums. Love it.

    • Jeff Schallenberg
      November 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      There's a problem with Grooveshark, though: its legality has been challenged, and it's recently lost one battle:

      http://www.torontosun.com/2014/09/30/grooveshark-infringed-record-labels-copyrights-us-judge

    • Jeff Schallenberg
      November 4, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      One big advantage of Spotify for me is that the paid service includes Spotify Connect - a service that lets me play Spotify music to streaming devices like Rocki and Gramofon (I have one of each) rather than to my PC or tablet speakers.

      Do any of Spotify's competitors have a similar feature?

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      Yeah, Grooveshark faces a tricky future full of lawsuits, I suspect. That doesn't mean it isn't good, just not entirely legal ;)

  11. Leah
    November 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I subscribe to XM radio and am pretty happy with that. The online app kind of sucks, but I really enjoy the channels and it lets me listen to "my music." As an online radio I don't think it's quite in the same vane as the others, but it's what I want in a radio, so I'm happy with it. I have used Pandora in the past. I like it, but for me, it's just too narrow. It's hard to explain what I mean. I just like radio because it's someone else picking the playlist. A song I wasn't expecting but I do like might pop up. I get a variety of channels on XM to surf through. It's where I hear new music as well. Yeah, I have to pay for it, but I get enjoyment out of it, so for me, it's worth it. I've thought about canceling, but I would miss some of the shows which I get to listen to on-demand.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      XM is a little different than the other services we're talking about, but it's still interesting to hear why you use it.

      You might want to try Spotify... the Radio element plays random songs based on your likes, so you may find it useful.

  12. it's me
    November 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Songza hands down. Highest quality playlists. Beats is nice for the first several songs only. With Songza I only get a few duds in 2 hours. And yes it's better than Apple and all the rest too...

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      Only a few duds in 2 hours is pretty good going. No wonder you love it so much :)

  13. Bob
    November 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    8tracks is my streaming service of choice. I've tried Pandora and I got annoyed by the ads and the algorithms drifting so far off the selected music type as to be completely unrecognizable. An example would be selecting a Breton folk group by name and having the music drift into some crap pop music. If I wanted to listen to crap pop, I would have looked for that. Since 8tracks is curated groupings/themes/genre by the submitters, I usually get a good block of new and interesting music in the genre I'm looking for.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      I must admit I was never a fan of Pandora when it was available in the UK for the exact same reason you cite.

  14. Dennis
    November 3, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Love Songza . Use at least an hour a day.

  15. Chinmay S
    November 3, 2014 at 10:44 am

    You should have listed Saavn, it's the #1 music streaming site in India. The best part - it's completely free.
    There is a pro version available for dowloading songs.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      I couldn't really list an option only available in one country, not even one with a population the size of India! :)

  16. Roger Caldwell
    November 3, 2014 at 8:51 am

    iTunes Radio for me because it's free and provides a great mix in many genres or I can make my own.

  17. Saikat Basu
    November 3, 2014 at 8:41 am

    With the kind of limited availability for the mainstream ones, I definitely like the curated playlists on 8Tracks.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      8tracks is pretty damn good. I really need to explore it more though, as I keep forgetting it actually exists.

  18. Phids
    November 3, 2014 at 2:38 am

    I listen to Pandora the most, but that is because I have been paying the yearly fee of $36 to listen without ads, and in higher quality streaming. I like the ease of creating new stations, but some of the music gets a bit stale after a while. Now that Pandora is upping its price to $4 monthly, I may end up moving away from it eventually. I really like listening to Spotify in my car and at home, but $10/month for a subscription is just too much for me. Better off listening with the ads.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      The ads on Spotify never bothered me that much, but I pay for it to support a service I really value. Pandora's price hike blows :(

  19. WinDork
    November 3, 2014 at 1:17 am

    My vote is for Amazon Music. The music selection is comprehensive; purchase prices are on par with competitors; there is a quality selection of free music for download; while my purchases are stored in the cloud by default, I also have the option to download them to devices I've registered in my Amazon.com profile; and as an Amazon Prime member, I can listen to Prime Music selections (that I don't have to purchase!) in my cloud player. Amazon.com has been my go-to for music streaming since the company began offering the service.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      That's damn fine reasoning. Man, Amazon really does have a finger in every pie at this point, doesn't it.

  20. Dejjem
    November 2, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Slacker

    • Kiahuna
      November 4, 2014 at 6:36 am

      ditto - since the first "Slacker device" came on the market. I've always been into streaming radio rather than playlist oriented services

  21. Doc
    November 2, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    None of the above. I don't need streaming music at home (I've got a large music collection I can play just about anywhere in the house), and very limited mobile data, so streaming music doesn't appeal to me at all.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Have you reached that age when new music doesn't really appeal? I would argue that's the best reason to stream music, period.

    • Doc
      November 7, 2014 at 12:43 am

      No, there's still lots of music that's OK, if you can avoid the "crunk hip-hop" junk and overproduced (as in too much coming out) R&B. There's still plenty of good stuff in the Top 40, just not as much listenable as say the '80s or early '90s.

  22. Swetank
    November 2, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Saavn - Here in India its growing. You should feature that too!

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      I'll give it a mention, for sure. It's a shame it's only available in India though.

  23. GP
    November 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    After trying Pandora and another one I forget, I don't see the usefulness of these services. I listen to music two different ways: 1) When I work; 2) When I put my headphones on to listen exclusively to music.

    With Pandora, I thought it was an absolute pain to use while working. I had to indicate if I liked the song or not, I have no time whatsoever to stop work to do this. The result is that the same few songs played over and over again. Totally useless and annoying.

    When I put my headphones on it is to listen to the music I like, not what some algorithm thinks I like.

    So, when I'm working I listen to my cable provider's dozen or so streaming stations (great R&B Blues). When I put my headphones on I use iTunes to specifically listen to my favorite music.

    For these reasons I just don't get the interest in these services.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      These don't all work in the same way as Pandora though. Spotify, which is the one I use, lets you play an album in full, queue up hundreds of tracks, or click the Radio player to get a random selection without ever having to vote one way or another.

  24. firstclass
    November 2, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    None. I prefer my mp3s. No wasting bandwidth. If I'm streaming its from Soundcloud.

  25. JJ
    November 2, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    I love Songza

  26. Vincent
    November 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Songza

  27. likefunbutnot
    November 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Naxos Music Library has a library of 1.5 million art music (i.e. classical/jazz) recordings available for streaming. It's horrifically expensive, but it's a wonderful resource for those whose taste runs in that direction.

    I'd also accept Google Play Music, though the part I find to be valuable is the cloud storage for my own content rather than the actual streaming.

    A problem that I have with services like Pandora and Spotify is that they both insist on mixing in movie soundtracks and popular music performed on orchestral instruments when a classical genre or composer is selected as the channel seed.

    XBox Music's music matching seems to be damned near worthless if your tastes are outside top 40. All of my music has proper tagging and full meta-data, but when I let Xbox Music try to match my collection it only found matches for something like 8% of the tracks present.

    • WinDork
      November 3, 2014 at 1:30 am

      Xbox Music is a joke! They have a LOT more work to before they become competitive with any of the other services mentioned here.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      I have never heard of Naxos before, but it's an intriguing service for a particular niche. There is definitely money to be made from appealing to a niche audience, especially if they have high disposable incomes.

  28. Joe
    November 2, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Spotify, no doubt about it. The music selection available is huge, it works seamlessly and the mobile app is great. Well worth the monthly fee.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly, which made it tricky to keep my bias hidden when writing this article :)

  29. Rokas
    November 2, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    SoundCloud

    • Vishal
      November 3, 2014 at 7:57 am

      Rokas... I am with you..!

      Soundcloud has a good collection.! I have also being listening to Sky.fm.

      And specially for Bollywood Music I opt for SAAVN.

  30. Jon
    November 2, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    For me, it's a tie between Spotify and iTunes Radio. I like that Spotify works on both my Mac and Android phone, and it's cheap where I live, but I think that iTunes Radio gets a better mix on the stations I make. Spotify frequently throws in music that I have no idea why it is there. It has nothing in common with the music I chose that started the station, whereas iTunes gives me a good mix and a mix that is adjustable, and I can add different items, whether artists, albums, or whatever, to further broaden its scope, while not getting too broad. So, Spotify works for its near-universality, and iTunes is customizable and accurate. And yes, I have odd/far-off-the-mainstream tastes.

    • WinDork
      November 3, 2014 at 1:25 am

      Everyone claims to have "off-the-mainstream" taste in music; it is just another misguided effort to distinguish ourselves from everyone else. The fact is, there is no "off-the-mainstream" music anymore, particularly when you consider how easy it is to procure underground indie offerings on the Internet (including from Amazon.com!). The "mainstream" is any music shilled by the seemingly limitless number of "America's Next Big Talent" knockoffs and their financial backers on television -- which few people are watching anyway. Top 40 has gone the way of the dinosaur; VH1 and MTV are showing television shows now, in case you haven't noticed!

    • Jon
      November 3, 2014 at 9:27 am

      Actually, no, I haven't noticed. When I listened to "pop" music, these things didn't exist... so, when I said "off-the-mainstream", I meant it.

      Hey, I have an idea. Next time, rather than tell me what I listen to, why don't you ask. You have no idea what my tastes are, and I can guarantee you that what I listen to is not "indie" or any kind of stuff that you are talking about. You are talking about stuff that is outside my range of experience. You have no idea what I listen to, and it is obvious that you have some preconceptions that govern everything you say. Next time, try using your head before you use your mouth. And _ask_ before you _tell_.

    • Xoandre
      November 3, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Currently, I have no use for streaming music. My vote is in the "Other" category.

      I am lucky to get my android phone to respond to dialing a phone number or typing a text (which sometimes there is a complete 12-letter delay on responding to touch) so adding yet another app to slow it down is not a good idea. But that does not answer your question.

      I have used Pandora most, because it is the one everyone knows. Once they went o a PAID subscription so they could sell ad space, it became a bit annoying to hear the same commercial every 3rd song. No, I do not need insurance on my timeshare because I have no timeshare, no matter how many times you tell me I need insurance on my nonexistent timeshare.

      Sorry, but that's about my extent of experience with streaming services.

      I'm more of a video streaming guy - using European television streaming services websites to watch television that my digital HDTV antenna does not pick up.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 6, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      @Jon You don't have to use the radio player on Spotify though. I tend to queue up a tone of tracks before settling in for some serious work. That way I am guaranteed of not having to skip past any duds.

      @WinDork I agree that the mainstream is much narrower now than it used to be, but I'd be interested to hear what music Jon actually listens to :)

      @Xoandre You can use these services at home on your regular Internet, so it doesn't matter how crappy your Android phone is ;)