What to look for in a streaming music service

A fundamental consideration is the extensiveness of the music library

As music streaming service options open up, discerning which to choose becomes a challenge.

PC magazine’s “Editor’s Choice” pick is Sirius XM Internet Radio; however, at $10.99 per month, this is also the most expensive streaming service featured in July’s “The Best Online Music Streaming Services for 2019.” The other nine are: Tidal, Amazon Music, LiveXLive, Spotify, Apple, Deezer, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio and Pandora.

Consumer Reports provided a comprehensive rundown this year, providing price, who it’s best for, pros and cons.

A fundamental consideration is the extensiveness of the music library. For example, “Apple Music has a library of 50 million songs that can be accessed on macOS, Windows, iOS and Android,” shared Consumer Reports. Plus, “human curators create a variety of themed playlists that help users discover new music.”

Another central factor when seeking a music service is the Kbps, which stands for kilobits per second, a measure of bandwidth (the amount of data that can flow in a given time) on a data transmission medium. PC magazines’s choices range from Pandora, at 192Kbps, to mostly 320Kbps for the others listed. Yet, Tidal and Deezer stream at 1411Kbps.

Individuals considering a music service need to ask: What is appealing? What is important? Is live programming essential? Song lyrics? For example, PC magazine revealed that Sirius XM has live programming but no song lyrics. Tidal has neither, but offers a high Kbps.

“Whichever service you choose, you’ll have a better time with your music if you play it on equipment that sounds great,” advised Consumer Reports. Fortunately, most music streaming services have a try before buy opportunity “so you can take them for a test-drive before you punch in your credit card information,” it added.

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