Forget Walkmans. Streaming services have revolutionised the way people listen to music, making it easier to access a vast range of music from various artists and genres than ever before. It’s all available at your fingertips thanks to the internet. And fancy algorithms.
As with their video streaming counterparts, there is a variety of music streaming services to choose from, including the two best-known apps: Spotify and Apple Music. But there is a handful of more niche streaming platforms available locally at different prices.
Spotify is one of the most popular audio streaming services in the world. If you haven’t yet, watch the series about how it was founded on Netflix called The Playlist. It details how the Swedish startup revolutionised access to music.
The service offers a wide range of music, incorporating local and international artists, as well as podcasts. Subscribers can build their own playlists and have access to a few key features like yearly Wrapped roundups and offline listening. Spotify also offers a range of personalized playlists, including Discover Weekly, Daily Mix, and Release Radar. Additionally, Spotify has a social aspect. Users can share playlists and see what their friends are listening to. It has several subscription options:
Free plan: Ad-supported, shuffle-only mode
Premium plan: R60/m (ad-free, unlimited skips, offline listening, high-quality audio)
Spotify also offers a family plan for up to six accounts at R100/m.
Apple Music is the music streaming service offered by Apple. Seems rather obvious, based on the name alone. It offers one of the largest libraries of music, also featuring both local and international artists.
One of the unique features of Apple Music is its integration with Siri, allowing users to control their tunes using voice commands. Apple Music also offers exclusive content, such as live concerts and interviews, and the ability to access your entire music library, including any songs purchased on iTunes.
Here you can expect a subscription fee of R70/m. Users can also sign up for a family plan for up to six accounts at R110/m.
Deezer is a French audio streaming service that offers an impressive library of music, podcasts, and live radio. It’s not as well-known as the other two but offers some unique selling points.
Like Spotify, it offers personalised playlists, including something called Flow, which is a playlist curated based on the user’s listening habits. There’s also a range of exclusive content — live concerts, interviews, and a range of podcasts. Additionally, the app features a social aspect. Like Spotify, users can share playlists and see what their friends are listening to – if that’s their thing. Here is the pricing:
Premium plan: R75/m (ad-free, unlimited skips, offline listening, high-quality audio)
Family plan: R115/m for up to six accounts
This one is for those who probably have record players in their houses. Record players, amplifiers, and wired, open-back headphones. If you haven’t guessed, Tidal is an audio streaming service that offers high-quality audio for music enthusiasts.
This one’s library also includes over 100 million songs, as well as some exclusive content, including live concerts and interviews. One of the unique features of Tidal is its high-fidelity audio, which allows users to listen to music in the highest quality possible. You will need good quality (read: expensive) headphones or speakers for this one though so keep that in mind when considering this pricing:
HiFi plan: R60/m (high-quality streaming up to 1,411 kbps, ad-free, offline listening)
HiFi Plus plan: R120/m (Increased HiFi quality up to 9,216 kbps, ad-free, offline listening)
Tidal also offers a family plan for up to six accounts at R90/m for the HiFi plan and R180/m for the HiFi Plus plan.
Okay, so you know YouTube. This is YouTube without the Tube but calling it You wasn’t an option. Netflix already had that sewn up.
YouTube Music offers users access to music videos and other exclusive content via the app. An interesting feature here is that YouTube Music is integrated with Google Assistant, allowing users to control tracks using voice commands. Here you can also expect to see personalised playlists and such. Here’s the pricing:
Premium Plan: R60/m
Student Plan: R30/m (students only, verification required)
YouTube Music also offers a family plan at R80/m for up to five accounts.
This one is often overlooked by most (because it isn’t strictly ‘available’ in South Africa without jumping through a few hoops first) but it’s still technically possible. Amazon Music is owned by the same company that offers same-day shipping in the US, and a video streaming service called Amazon Prime.
It offers many of the same features you’ll find on the other streaming services like curated playlists, exclusive content, and interviews with industry folks. The one standout feature is that it offers full integration with Alexa, allowing users to control their music using voice commands. It’s also, unfortunately, the most expensive option on this entire list.
Amazon Prime Music: Free with an Amazon Prime subscription (ad-free,
Amazon Music Free: Free (ad-supported, shuffle only)
Amazon Music Unlimited: R185/m (HD and Ultra HD quality, ad-free, unlimited skips)
Amazon Music Unlimited Family Plan: R300/m (up to six accounts, only for Prime users)