Best music streaming services 2023

Best music streaming services on the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Galaxy Z Flip 3, and Pixel
(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Music is the heartbeat of our lives. It amps us up before a big test or a cardio workout, and soothes us through grief and loss. Because we expect our music to follow us from device to device, from home to car to work to cafe, having one of the best music streaming services that fits your lifestyle is essential. While there are several music streaming services out there, we're going to focus on services available to much of the world.

Music streaming services for you to enjoy

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Tidal app on an Android phone showcasing pop songs.

(Image credit: Android Central)

Tidal HiFi

Highest quality music streaming you can get on the go

Reasons to buy

+
Lossless audio
+
Exclusive music video content
+
Ability to import existing playlists

Reasons to avoid

-
Smaller library than Spotify
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Limited podcast options

Tidal was one of the first music services to provide high-quality lossless audio over streaming, even though it launched with a rather bare selection of artists and songs. Since its inception, Tidal has continued to grow its catalog and added some extra goodies, including high-definition music videos. In addition to the high-quality music available, the company offers more than its fair share of artist exclusive releases and was even live-streaming concerts before it was cool.

The feature set for Tidal is also rather robust since it's available on just about every platform, including its desktop application for Mac and Windows, along with a usable web client. There's smart assistant integration with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, along with the ability to create your own karaoke night with on-device lyrics.

While Spotify used to be our pick for the best overall music streaming service, Spotify has yet to give an actual deadline for when its HiFi tier will actually drop. In comparison, the Tidal HiFi plan allows users to stream audio using the lossless format FLAC up to 1411 Kbps, which is better than the audio quality available at any Spotify tier currently available.

Tidal music streaming on an Android phone.

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Tidal HiFi Plus

Next level music streaming

Reasons to buy

+
Highest audio quality
+
User-centric payment system
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Ability to import existing playlists

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than Spotify Premium
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Smaller music library
-
Limited podcast options

The Tidal HiFi Plus plan is the best streaming service subscription on the market right now for music listeners who really care about the audio quality of the songs they're listening to. While the HiFi Plus plan is a bit pricier at $19.99/month, it includes all the perks of the HiFi tier and boasts Master Quality audio, Dolby Atmos, and Sony 360 Reality Audio.

In January 2022, subscribers to Tidal's HiFi Plus plan saw up to 10% of their monthly fee distributed to their most-listened-to artists, a move that sets Tidal apart from other major streaming services currently battling artists over royalty payouts. Tidal also teamed up with more than 100 major and independent labels to develop and grow this "user-centric payment system." So, if making sure artists are getting paid is important to you, then HiFi Plus is the best plan for you.

Tidal app library on an Android phone.

(Image credit: Android Central)

Tidal Student

The best plans at discounted rates

Reasons to buy

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Discount applies to high school and higher education students
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Discount can be applied to HiFi and HiFi Plus plans
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Ability to import existing playlists

Reasons to avoid

-
Student discount isn't available in all countries
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Military/First Responders discount only available in the U.S.

While Spotify used to be one of the only music streaming services offering a student discount, both Apple Music and Tidal have since added discounted tiers for students. However, Tidal takes things to the next level by offering a 50 percent discount on both its ad-free HiFi and HiFi Plus. Tidal's student discount is also applicable to both high school and higher education students, while Spotify and Apple Music's student discount offer is specific to higher education students at a selection of supported colleges or universities.

Beyond its student discount, Tidal also offers a 40 percent discount on all of its HiFi and HiFi Plus plans to current or former Military personnel and active or retired first responders (EMS, EMT, Firefighters, and Police Officers) in the United States.

Amazon Music app on an Android phone kept on a gray table

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Amazon Music

Perfect for Amazon adopters or those looking for something different

Reasons to buy

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Included in your Prime subscription
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Option to upgrade to Music Unlimited
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Offers a 30-day free trial

Reasons to avoid

-
Smaller music library
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Less-friendly UI

For the last few years, Amazon has been building up its own music streaming service to combat the Spotifys and Apple Musics of the world. There are two different versions of streaming services for you to pick from, and it all comes down to how much music you want to listen to.

Amazon Prime Music is available for Prime subscribers and is included with your monthly or yearly subscription. There are a few limitations, the biggest of which is that the number of available songs to stream or listen to is limited to just two million. However, it's available on all of your potential devices, and you'll still find many of the top hits. If you want some deep tracks, you might want to look into Amazon Music Unlimited.

Music Unlimited has all the features one would expect to find when searching for the best music streaming services. There's a free, ad-supported version that allows you to browse an array of playlists of stations. You can also get on board with the Music Unlimited Individual Plan for around $9 per month, but Amazon offers a 30-day free trial to get your feet wet.

Spotify Premium on an Android phone.

(Image credit: Android Central)

Spotify Premium

Perfect if you switch between multiple devices

Reasons to buy

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Allows you to stream music over Wi-Fi
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Works on PCs and mobile devices
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Available to all Spotify service plans.

Reasons to avoid

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Requires Wi-Fi connection
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Limitations on offline listening
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Payment isn't user or artist-centric

For the past decade, Spotify has delivered streaming music magic and is undoubtedly one of the most popular subscriptions on the market today. Its vast genre selection, easy-to-understand settings, and useful algorithms ensure that users keep finding new and fantastic music to add to their libraries. While Spotify still offers a free tier, the Spotify Premium plan takes that to the next level with no commercial breaks, unlimited skips, and a larger media library.

Thanks to Spotify Connect and the many, many platforms Spotify makes dedicated apps for — from Android TV to Wear OS and everywhere in between — you'll also be able to listen to your library just about anywhere. Specifically, Spotify offers an easy-to-use web client that doesn't require any downloads or installations to easily use on a managed computer at work or school. Still, there's also a desktop client available for more intense library management and offline playback. While Spotify also doesn't have a device limit for streaming, its five-device, 10,000-song limit on offline content can spell trouble for those who download massive playlists and their entire library for offline listening.

As mentioned above, Spotify continues to be one of the most intuitive streaming services. It also edges out both Tidal and Apple Music regarding music discovery. That being said, the uncertainty surrounding the launch of the Spotify HiFi tier puts it a step behind Tidal when it comes to audio quality. Spotify also hasn't made a strong effort to work with artists to negotiate more fair payouts, which may be an issue for some music fans. To make matters worse, not everyone is a fan of the latest TikTok-style makeover of the app.

YouTube Music logo

(Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

YouTube Music

The Play Music replacement

Reasons to buy

+
Free to signup
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Smart search feature
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Ability to turn on audio-only mode

Reasons to avoid

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Smaller music library
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Only paid subscribers can listen offline
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Not available in all countries

Now that Google Play Music is gone, it's been replaced by Google's next music venture, YouTube Music. Keeping with the family for streaming content, Google has branded it to YouTube, considering the platform's popularity. YouTube Music features a library of more than 50 million songs and, as you would expect, includes many music videos to sit back and enjoy.

If you're the type who wants to download their favorite playlists to listen back to later on, you won't run into any issues. YouTube Music Premium subscribers can download songs, albums, or playlists right to their phones, so they can still listen to their favorites even if they don't have a stable internet connection. The Premium subscription starts at $10 per month for individuals or $15 per month for families. Students can get in on the fun for just $5 per month, but there's even a free tier if you're willing to put up with some ads. You can also sign up for YouTube Premium for the same $10 per month and get an ad-free experience across YouTube and YouTube Music.

One of the big reasons why Spotify continues to be a fan favorite has everything to do with the algorithms used to provide generated playlists. YouTube Music has a few algorithms of its own, but when pitting YouTube Music vs. Spotify, we noticed some improvement with playlists such as My Supermix, Discover Mix, and others. But as is the case with any music streaming service, the more you listen, the better the playlists will get.

We also finally have a proper YouTube Music app for our Android smartwatches. While the app was initially limited to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic, YouTube Music started rolling out to additional Wear OS 2 smartwatches in late 2021. The app is now readily available to most Wear OS 2 and Wear OS 3 devices such as the Pixel Watch.

Youtube Premium Up Close Galaxy Z Fold

(Image credit: Source: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

YouTube Premium

Get the most bang for your buck

Reasons to buy

+
Unlocks premium features in six apps
+
Includes built-in music locker service
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Massive music catalog

Reasons to avoid

-
Steeper price than many platforms
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No lyrics feature
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Not available in all countries

Twelve bucks a month for a robust, stable music player with a built-in music locker service (Google Play Music), the best experience on the most popular video platform in the world (YouTube), and a brand-new but slightly buggy music service built atop the biggest music catalog in the world, including fan content and non-commercially-available music (YouTube Music)? Yeah, sign me up.

YouTube Premium is a video subscription that removes ads and unlocks premium features in five apps: YouTube, YouTube Music, YouTube Kids, YouTube Gaming, And YouTube VR. Name another video subscription with that kind of value. No, really, I'll wait.

Once upon a time, you could subscribe to YouTube, YouTube Music, or Google Play Music and get access to premium service on all of them, but recent changes to Google's pricing policies have changed things. Pay for YouTube Music, and you just get YouTube Music. Pay for YouTube Premium, and you get everything.

What's the best music streaming service for you?

When it comes to which music streaming is the best, it comes down to what makes a specific music service the best for you and your family. That being said, we think Tidal has made huge strides since it launched and is only becoming more appealing to die-hard music fans who aren't happy with the direction of Spotify. And while Apple Music, Amazon Music, and YouTube Music also have their perks and discounts, Tidal still stands out regarding audio quality and artist support.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategorySpotifyAmazon MusicYouTube MusicDeezerTidalApple Music
Android app✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Wear OS app✔️✔️✔️
Android TV app✔️✔️YouTube app✔️✔️
Android Auto compatibility✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Web client✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Desktop client✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Chromecast compatibility✔️✔️Varies by plan, currently unstableVaries by plan✔️
Google Assistant compatibility✔️Limited✔️✔️
Max audio quality320 kbps3730 kbps (Ultra HD)256 kbps320 kbps (Premium), 1411 kbps (Hi-Fi)9216 kbps256 kbps
Device limit5 devices10 devicesUnlimited3 devicesUnlimited10 devices
Songs available100 million+50 million+Unknown90 million+ (Premium), 36 million+ (Hi-Fi)100 million+100 million+
Library limit10,000 songsUnlimited subscription music, 50,000 song uploadsUnknown2,000 songs on desktop, 1,000 on mobile apps10,000 songs, 10,000 albums100,000 songs
Playlist size limit10,000 songs500 songs5,000 songs2,000 songs on desktop, 1,000 on mobile appsUnknownvaries by platform
Offline limits5 devices, 10,000 songsOne device at a time10 devices (4 automatic de-authorization limit/year)1,000 songs6 devices, 10,000 songs10 devices
Algorithm-based mixes and radio stations✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Podcasts✔️✔️✔️✔️
Music videos✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Music documentaries / behind the scenes /✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Gapless playbackCrossfade only (not available when using Spotify Connect)Device-dependentCrossfade only (not available on Android)Device-dependentDevice-dependent
Song lyricsLimited (via Genius)LimitedLimited (via YouTube lyric videos)LimitedLimited
Stable performance on Android✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Free services✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Ad-supportedAudio adsAudio adsAudio adsAudio adsLimited interruptions
Skip limit6/hour6/hourUnlimited6/hourUnlimited
Forced shuffle✔️✔️Unrestricted✔️Unknown
Repeat/repeat one available✔️Unknown✔️✔️Limited (get replays via ad engagement)
Offline listening
Individual Subscription$9.99$8.99$9.99$10.99$9.99 (HiFi), $19.99 (HiFi Plus)$10.99
Family Subscription$15.99$15.99$14.99$14.99$14.99 (Family HiFi), $29.99 (Family Hi-Fi Plus)$16.99
Student pricing$4.99 (includes basic Hulu and SHOWTIME)$0.99 for first year, $4.99 after$4.99 (Student Unlimited)$4.99 (Deezer Student)$4.99 (Student Premium), $9.99 (Student Hi-Fi)$5.99 (Includes Apple TV+)
Other bundles/discounts$4.99 (Single Device), $4.99 (Student Unlimited), $12.99 (Duo) $15.99 (Family), $79 (Individual Yearly), $149 (Family Yearly)$11.99 (YouTube Premium), $17.99 (YouTube Premium family)$99.90 (Deezer Annual), $14.99 (Deezer HiFi)$5.99 (Military HiFi), $11.99 (Military HiFi Plus)$99.99 annual subscription ($20 discount)$4.99 (Voice)
Available Countries1845010018761167

Music is fundamental, and it's still one of the core functions of the best Android phones, smart speakers like Google Home, and our computers. As such, picking the right music streaming service to use on the devices you use every day is a big decision.

While our poll in the past saw YouTube Music finish ahead of Tidal, we still think Tidal is the music streaming service to beat. However, one of the biggest issues with the service is that it's only available in 61 countries. That means you might not be able to access Tidal where you live. As such, it's worth pointing out that Deezer is available in more than 100 countries worldwide and is also doing its own experiments with user-centric payouts.

If the sheer size of a platform's catalog matters more to you than audio quality, then YouTube Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music are still solid options for Android users. There's also an argument to be made for the music library hosted by Apple Music, though it doesn't function quite as seamlessly on non-iOS devices.

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks, tablets, and wearables

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.