What makes Spotify great?
From the looks of it, Spotify is rapidly becoming one of most popular music streaming services available. Most people who stream music use Spotify, or have used Spotify at some point in the past. What has Spotify done to become such a well-liked music streaming option? Spotify’s key to success has been a few factors that ultimately came together to form a very powerful, user-friendly product.
To begin with, Spotify is easy to use. This may seem like a very simple explanation, but it’s true. Spotify is easy to use, easy to navigate, and easy to sign up for. Also, Spotify offers an enormous catalog of music as part of its free membership. Some music streaming apps are popular, but they don’t really offer users the ability to pick and choose exactly what they want to listen to. So, in summary, Spotify is easy to use, wallet-friendly, and offers a large selection of music.
When I created this list of the best apps like Spotify, I kept those three factors in mind. It’s also worth noting, before we get into the finer details of these items, that I only took the apps in account in my writing. Some of these apps may also have desktop counterparts, but I’m only going to address the app’s features.
1. Amazon Prime Music
Amazon Prime Music has only been around for a couple of years, and it’s started to attract a little bit of attention recently. For the most part, a lot of people just use Prime for the free two-day shipping. Recently, though, Amazon’s “More to Prime” advertising campaign reminded Prime users that they were also able to take advantage of Prime Video, Prime Music, and Prime Photos. I have been a Prime member for several years, but I only learned of Amazon Prime music fairly recently.
Amazon Prime’s music selection is pretty big, boasting around 1,000,000 total songs. It’s still dwarfed by Spotify’s selection, however, which has over 20 million. Still, if you’re someone who primarily listens to more mainstream music, Amazon should have all of the songs that you want and more. The app itself is also very well designed, and I think that the interface is slightly more attractive than Spotify’s. Prime Music has all of the features that you would want out of a music streaming app, and I really like it. My only complaint? Pricey! It’s a good thing to have if you’re already a Prime member, but I don’t think the music service on its own is worth $99 a year. Prime is already a great value for the free shipping alone, though, and I think that the Prime Music just adds to that value.
Pandora is much older than Spotify, and it was probably the leading music streaming service before Spotify hit the streets. Pandora’s model is a little different from Spotify’s. It’s more of a radio app than a streaming app, which may have partially contributed to it being overtaken by Spotify in terms of popularity. When you open up Pandora, you select a station. Pandora then plays a curated radio station with music that is related to that station. You have a limited number of skips that you can use, and you have to listen to the occasional ad.
Spotify also has a radio feature, but that isn’t all that it has. Pandora doesn’t really give users the ability to pick and choose what they want to listen to. Its selection is roughly comparable to Amazon’s selection, which is a little underwhelming when you consider how long Pandora has been around. Even so, Pandora is a relatively high quality app, and if you use the Spotify radio feature often, you’ll probably like it a lot.
iHeartRadio is an interesting amalgam of music streaming features. iHeartRadio is a radio app, much like
Pandora. You can’t just choose whatever music you would like and listen to it. However, unlike most music streaming radio stations, which are basically massive playlists that get put on shuffle, iHeartRadio also offers actual radio stations. This may not be a super cool feature for some people, but I think that the ability to listen to morning talk shows and what not is nice, and something that is missing in most online “radio” stations.
However, there are also a few other little wrinkles. iHeartRadio doesn’t offer users any skips at all in its live radio stations at all. That’s right, if you don’t like a song, you’re going to have to just sit and listen to it. (However, there are skips in custom radio stations, which are very similar to the radio stations in Spotify. You’re able to thumbs-up and thumbs-down different songs, as well as skip songs that you dislike.) There’s a slight benefit to this in the live stations, though. Since they don’t have skips, that also means that they don’t have any ads. Whether you would prefer one or the other is a matter of personal preference, but I personally find it kind of jarring to be listening to music and suddenly have an ad play really loudly. iHeartRadio is neat, and I think that it’s definitely a little different from Spotify. Different doesn’t always mean worse, though.
Like iHeartRadio, Slacker is kind of a music streaming mutant. The app is actually called ‘Slacker Radio’, and the apps largest draw is the ability for curators to create their own radio stations. So, it becomes kind of like a faux-radio station. A curator can assemble a large list of songs, and even put in little comments between them. It feels like a real radio, even though it actually isn’t. With a subscription, Slacker Radio also allows user to listen to music from their music on-demand service. Their music on-demand service is pretty big, but it’s still not quite as big as Spotify’s. (I keep saying that but, to be fair, I don’t think many libraries are.)
Slacker offers a free plan, and two paid subscription plan. The free plan is pretty standard, with limited skips and advertisements. The first paid plan (Radio Plus) is $3.99/mo, and allows unlimited skips, no advertisements, and the ability to listen offline. The second plan (Radio Premium) is $9.99/mo, and it offers all of those features plus the ability to create playlists and replay songs. Slacker isn’t quite as popular as the other apps on this list, but I think it should be. I think that the user-created radio stations are a really cool concept, and I think the user interface looks pretty good. It’s more unique, and it works.
5. Google Play Music
Google Play Music might be Spotify’s greatest competitor, out of every other item on this list. It offers Spotify’s same level of simplicity, while bringing even more functionality to the table. Google Play Music only offers its on-demand selection with it’s paid membership (which is $9.99/mo) but I think it’s pretty worth it. Google Play Music offers over 30 million songs, which is considerably larger than Spotify’s selection. Their coolest feature, though, can’t be found anywhere else. They actually allow you to upload your own music (up to 50,000 songs) to the cloud, and access them whenever you want.
Not only does this expand their own collection, but it’s just a really cool service in itself. I have A LOT of music stored across different devices, and Google Play Music is an absolute lifesaver. I can have all of my stuff in one place, and listen to it pretty much whenever I want! Still, it’s a little depressing to me that there isn’t a free option for Google Play Music users. With that considered, I don’t think I can say that Google Play Music is actually better than Spotify. It’s just different. However, it’s definitely an alternative that I recommend you look into.
Do you have another app you think would be a good fit for our 2018 list of spotify alternatives and competitors? Let us know in the comments below!
Thanks for the iHeartRadio mention Jake. One small correction, we do allow song skips within our custom radio product. While streaming a live station doesn’t allow for skipping songs, because it’s a live experience you are sharing with millions of others, when you select an artists or track as a seed to start your custom station playback (our Pandora-like feature) you may skip songs you don’t like and customize your channels by thumbing tracks up and down. -Chris Williams, Chief Product Officer iHeartRadio
Hi, Chris! I should probably make that distinction. Thanks for the information, I’ll update right away.
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