To Stream or Not to Stream: The Ins and Outs of Music-Streaming Services


Music streaming services have taken over the recording industry by providing on-demand access to the songs we love. Services like Spotify, Pandora, Hype Machine, SoundCloud and the all-new Apple Music use different approaches and platforms to provide music to listeners. Let’s take a look at how they differ.


This music streaming master is known around the world as a go-to for all things music. Spotify offers free web streaming to any registered user. Listeners can also access free streaming on mobile devices through its app, or pay a monthly fee for added benefits with Spotify Premium.

Spotify offers more than 30 million songs to its 75 million+ users. Music lovers can stream around the world and even without an Internet connection, depending on what type of account details they have.

This popular streaming service was founded on the idea of bringing music to the masses legally by ensuring royalties for the artists. While there has been some speculation about the adequacy of Spotify’s royalty policy (looking at you T Swift), the streaming powerhouse succeeds at bringing legal, accessible music to its fans.

Apple Music

Apple Music is an extension of iTunes and allows listeners to bring their music everywhere while also finding new music as they go.

With an Apple Music account, you can access songs, get recommendations, find new music and create playlists with your Apple Music account. You can also use the iTunes Radio to hear new music and leave the song selection to your device. By listening to songs, sharing playlists and searching for new music, you input information into Apple Music so it can better understand your musical preferences and personalize your listening experience.

Apple Music accommodates one listener or a household full with various listening plans. It plans to expand its platform soon to non-Apple devices like Android and Microsoft.


Pandora users can find new music or listen to old favorites with this interactive streaming service. Listeners plug in a song, artist or genre they’d like to hear and Pandora uses the Music Genome Project to identify other songs with similar characteristics and create a radio station based on them.

According to Pandora, “each song in the Music Genome Project is analyzed using up to 450 distinct musical characteristics by a trained music analyst.”

Listeners can further communicate their preferences for the station by giving songs a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” or adding more inspirational seeds to the station details. Anyone can listen to Pandora for free and save their station and settings as long as they don’t mind enduring a few commercials here and there. Users can pay a low monthly fee for Pandora One and skip songs they don’t likes as well as avoid commercials.

Hype Machine

Hype Machine compiles hundreds of music blogs and their content to present listeners with the latest in music. It also details what respected bloggers have to say about it.

Because its library is created based on current blogs and trends, it doesn’t have the extensive catalog of music that powerhouses like Spotify and Apple Music have. However, Hype Machine is a great tool to find new music and stay on top of what’s fresh and popular on the music scene every day.

Listeners can’t download music from Hype Machine directly, but the site links to other platforms for easy purchasing. Instead of a monthly fee, mobile users pay a one-time fee upfront for the app and continued use is free.


SoundCloud caters to both artists and listeners. Unlike other streaming services, SoundCloud offers a platform for aspiring musicians and beat mixologists to upload their creations and share them. They can choose to share content privately with friends or to a public audience. A unique interactive feature allows users to leave comments on specific moments in each song, giving feedback to the artist who uploaded it.

You can browse song selections on SoundCloud and share your favorite discoveries to your own social network profiles.

After your song selection ends, SoundCloud continues streaming similar music so you can discover new artists and songs. More fun news: it’s free.


About Author


Claire earned her English degree from Dickinson College in May 2014 and has been writing web content since then. She is an expert on our Internet team. Her other interests include traveling, playing sports and walking her dogs. Although she grew up in Charlotte, NC, Claire has lived in Singapore and Spain and is fluent in Spanish.

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