MUSIC STREAMING SERVICES, RANKED
The ability to listen to almost any song whenever you want -- what a world. As extraordinary as that is, hyper-specific curated music may even be better. When it really works, its near seamless integration improves whatever you're doing. As they essentially all have the same incredible library of music, it all comes down to design and experience.
- •SpotifyThe gold standard. They're Hertz, and everybody is Avis (or worse). Everything is done better at Spotify. The design of their app is easily the best in the space. That ease of use improves all aspects of the experience. Their excellent playlists are tailored for every imaginable mood, moment, or occasion. And, if you have unlimited data or a wifi connection, you can stream the music at an absurdly high level of sound quality. The premium monthly subscription is worth every penny.
- •SiriusXMThis is the one that everyone overlooks. It's just an accepted fact that satellite radio is always there and always tremendous. We all know the stations and have our favorites. Their app used to be simple and perfect. Then, feeling the need to "update it," the app became cluttered with nonessential design elements/features, which cause it take forever to load. Despite that, it's phenomenal. And if they permanently brought back the Yacht Rock channel, they'd close more of the gap on Spotify.
- •PandoraNothing fancy. It's totally straightforward. The significant limitations of the service are made so clear the moment you sign up, they are almost immediately forgiven. And let's give credit where credit is due -- the thumbs up/down design, while now taken as a given, was a stroke of genius.
- •TidalBeyoncé's involvement as a principal of the ownership group is the only reason for Tidal's inclusion on this list. [UPDATE: Have recently been using Tidal HIFI, which is quite excellent. That, coupled with the "exclusive" content, has caused the service to be an actual player in the space. Did I mention that both Beyoncé and Rihanna are principals — on that basis alone they get my business.]
- •Apple MusicThey should really be three on this list, but I deliberately want to belittle their shameful effort to date. Can anyone actually decipher their interface? Not to mention, they have more information on my musical preferences than anyone (considering all of the songs in my iTunes account) -- so how is it their suggestions/playlists for me are the absolute worst of these top five services? Good thing I'm not a stockholder. Oh, wait. Hey, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine -- get this thing together already!
- •Google PlayI use this as much as I use Google+.
- •Amazon Prime MusicThis is FREE with my Amazon Prime subscription? Then it must be great.
- •SoundCloudWait. The users upload the songs? Shrewd.
- •RdioIs that name a joke?