Spotify is the world’s largest music streaming platform with over 381 million users across 184 markets around the world. The company was founded by Martin Lorentzon and Daniel Ek in 2008 in response to the shutdown of peer-to-peer music service Napster. Spotify became a success because it was the first company to determine how to distribute music legally and compensate the music industry at the same time. The platform now offers various curated music discovery services, music stations, audio customization, and private listening. In recent times, it has also ventured into the streaming of audiobooks, podcasts, comedy, poetry, and short stories.
Many consider Apple Music to be a close second to Spotify because it is the best choice for those consumers already invested in the Apple ecosystem of products.
Apple Music is one of the few platforms to offer spatial audio for no extra charge. The platform adjusts the frequencies each ear hears and applies directional audio filters to make it appear as if the music is coming from the sides, the rear, and even from above the listener.
Apple Music also employs human music experts in addition to algorithms to recommend music to listeners. Access to over 90 million songs can be had for $10/month.
Amazon Music was launched in the United States in September 2007 under the brand Amazon MP3. The company’s music streaming platform is accessible from a range of devices, including the Amazon.com web player, iOS, Windows, Alexa-enabled technology, smart televisions, and some vehicles.
Amazon Music offers access to over 75 million songs, millions of podcast episodes, and spatial audio listening. The first three months are free, after which the user is charged $7.99/month. Amazon Prime customers get free access to the service for as long as they remain members.
Pandora is one of the most popular streaming sites in the United States market with approximately 70 million active monthly users. The company works on a freemium, ad-supported model with the paid service Pandora Premium in direct competition with the Spotify offering.
Users can tune into existing genre stations or create their own stations. Pandora also incorporates social media features such as a thumbs up or thumbs down rating for music tracks and other listener metrics. Using this data, the platform is well suited to aspiring artists who want exposure to the right audience.
Unique to the platform is the proprietary Music Genome Project, which the company claims is the most detailed music analysis ever performed. To that end, Pandora employs a team of trained musicologists to analyze over 450 musical attributes and provide personalized recommendations to users.
YouTube Music is a music streaming app and desktop product from YouTube. Free users can listen to music with ads while paid subscribers can access an audio-only mode to listen to a song without being distracted by the video.
YouTube Music is the successor to Google Play Music, so the platform retains the latter’s original music locker system and users can transfer their music libraries over with ease.
At $11.99 per month after a one-month free trial, YouTube Music is a little more expensive than its competitors. However, YouTube Premium users can access it for free.
Qobuz is a French music streaming service founded in 2007 with a focus on delivering the best sound quality available. Qobuz offers 24-bit FLAC files up to 192 kHz, which makes the platform perfect for audiophiles and those who enjoy classical or jazz music.
- Spotify became a success because it was the first company to determine how to distribute music legally and compensate the music industry at the same time. Several competitors have emerged in recent years with more or less the same business model.
- Apple Music and Amazon Music are Spotify’s two largest competitors, with both companies leveraging their existing user bases and brand following.
- YouTube is another competitor with an existing user base – though its music platform is a little more expensive and is perhaps less developed than Spotify. Stalwart Pandora and French platform Qobuz are also Spotify competitors serving more niche markets.
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