Apple has launched its streaming subscription service, Apple Music. We've gathered its chief rivals to see how it stacks up against the competition.

Apple Music has finally arrived to strike fear into the hearts of Spotify, Tidal and the rest of the streaming industry - and provide us all with another streaming service to choose from. Set to launch on 30th June, it will shake-up the streaming music landscape like no other service.

And with the iTunes music behemoth behind it, complete with hundreds of millions of existing users, Apple Music is bound to be an enticing prospect for any existing Apple user. And that's a lot of people.

So what Apple Music features will set it apart from Deezer, Rdio, Qobuz and the alternatives? How does it compare on price, sound quality and music library size? And what devices are supported? We'll answer all these questions and more on this streaming music services comparison page...

MORE: Best music streaming services


Not sure which one to go for? Deezer, Rdio and Spotify let you use their basic services for free, but with occasional advertisements. Qobuz offers a free 15-day trial for Premium and Hi-Fi tiers, while Google Play Music and Tidal offer 30 free days. Apple Music, however, offers a whopping three-month free trial.

Here's the full lowdown (prices per month unless otherwise indicated):

Apple Music £10 Apple Music Family Plan £15 (provides accounts for up to six family members)

Deezer Free, Deezer Premium+ £10 

Google Play Music £9.99 

Qobuz Basic £5, Qobuz Premium £10, Qobuz Hi-Fi Classical £15, Qobuz Hi-Fi £20

Rdio Free, Rdio Unlimited £9.99 

Spotify Free, Spotify Premium £10 Spotify Family £17.99 for two accounts + £5 each for a 3rd, 4th and 5th family member.

Tidal £10, Tidal Hi-Fi £20

Music catalogue

Streaming subscriptions have really moved on in the last few years, and you can’t go wrong on any of these. If your tastes are fairly mainstream, it's likely you'll find pretty much all your music on any of the services.

However, exclusive content is likely to play a bigger and bigger part in differentiating between streaming service - so if you love Taylor Swift, for example, it's worth knowing she’s not on Spotify, but you’ll find her on Tidal.

Streaming services library size compared (as quoted by service):

Apple Music Over 30 million songs

Deezer Over 35 million songs

Google Play Music Over 30 million songs

Qobuz 28 million songs

Rdio Over 32 million songs

Spotify Over 30 million songs

Tidal 25 million+ songs

More after the break

Sound quality

A lot of people would be totally fine with lower quality streaming during a noisy bus ride. If you'll also be using your streaming service to listen at home, however, the jump to higher quality may well be worth the extra outlay. Currently only Tidal and Qobuz offer CD-quality, lossless audio streams.

Apple Music up to 256kbps AAC

Deezer 128kbps, 320kbps, CD-quality 16bit/44.1kHz FLAC (Sonos only)

Google Play Music up to 320kbps 

Qobuz 320kbps, CD-quality 16bit/44.1kHz FLAC

Rdio 64kbps, 192 kbps, 320kbps AAC

Spotify 96kbps, 160kbps, 320kbps Ogg Vorbis

Tidal 96kbps, 320kbps AAC, CD-quality 16bit/44.1kHz FLAC

Device and platform support

The beauty of streaming is how convenient it can be. When choosing a subscription service, you’d better make sure you can use it anytime, anywhere. 

The market-leader Spotify has a serious advantage here, integrated with a wide range of specialist AV products, as well as working on the usual platforms. Spotify Connect also allows you to stream from Spotify's servers straight to your AV device, using your phone only as a remote not as the source.

Apple Music Windows, Mac, iOS, Apple TV (Autumn 2015), Android (Autumn 2015)

Deezer Windows, Mac, web player, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Chromecast, Sonos, Bluesound

Google Play Music Windows, Mac, web player, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Chromecast, Sonos

Qobuz Windows, Mac, web player (MP3 only), Android, iOS, Sonos, Bluesound

Rdio Windows, Mac, web player, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone 8, Chromecast, Sonos, Roku, Bluesound

Spotify Windows, Mac, web player, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Amazon Kindle, Sonos, Roku, Bluesound

Spotify also integrates with a wide-range of hi-fi products from brands such as Cambridge Audio, Bose, Denon, LG, Onkyo, Pioneer and many more.

Tidal Windows, Mac, web player (Chrome only for lossless), Android, iOS, Sonos


Standing out from the crowd will be increasingly tricky but whether it's lossless audio, exclusive videos or concert tickets, each service is trying to do something different. All the services have the basic features - from offline playback to making playlists - but what sets them apart?

Apple Music 

Music curated by artists, integrated personal and streaming libraries, 24/7 global radio station, social media integration, HD videos, Siri interaction

Apple's main perk will be its integration with iOS devices, the new Music app being embedded as part of the iOS 8.4 update. Furthermore, while the streaming libarary isn't the same as iTunes' huge library, you will be able to neatly integrate your own downloads with the streaming app.

Secondly, Beats 1 - "the world's first 24/7 worldwide radio station", and free on iOS -  will aim to draw people into the Apple Music world and in turn step-up to become a paying subscriber.

Much like Tidal, Apple will no doubt look to use artist power to get people interested, with exclusive content likely. With Drake on stage at the launch event and Zane Lowe part of Beats 1, it's likely Apple - still a major source of revenue for artists and labels - will be able to rely on plenty of superstar help.



Deezer Flow personalised radio station, lyrics, CD-quality streams on Sonos

If you're a Sonos user, then Deezer's option of CD-quality streams - Deezer Elite - is available to you, which is a definite perk. 

Deezer Flow is a clever way of creating a personalised radio station at the touch of a button, streaming a mix of your saved library, playlists and suggested tracks, which works rather well. There are further curation tools, such as the 'Hear This' tab for suggesting new music.


Google Play Music 

Free upload of up to 50,000 tracks to Google's cloud locker, access your own music anywhere

There's a decent selection of ways to suggest new music, such as 'I'm Feeling Lucky radio', but the real perk of Google Music is the way you can upload your own music to the cloud. Do it once and Google will then allow you to access and stream your tunes on any other device with a network connection.

This allows you to fill any gaps in the streaming service's library and give you a huge amount of music at your fingertips in one app. It also removes the need for a NAS device in your streaming system at home - though your tracks will be limited to 320kbps MP3.



Lossless audio, high-res Android streaming, high-res downloads

It's easy to argue that Qobuz is the audiophile's choice. As well as lossless audio streams, it's the first service to offer high-resolution audio streaming, though currently only on Android.

There's also the Qobuz Sublime subscription plan, which offers a mix of streaming and high-res downloads at an all-you-can-eat price.



Good social integration, wide-range of supported devices, large library, free radio

The name Rdio comes from a mix of radio and audio, so it's perhaps no surprise the radio option on Rdio is a strong one. Offering your own personalised station, there are good curation options - choose how adventurous, i.e. random, you'd like Rdio's algorithim to be, for example - and the option to kick-start a new station based on an artist.

Social sharing is neatly integrated and there are a wide-range of supported devices. As one of the longer-established services, it's a solid bet.



Exclusive music, playlists, news, podcasts, videos, buy tickets with Songkick

The market-leader will still beat the upstarts for strength-in-depth when it comes to music requests a little off the beaten path, while a recent update has seen news, tickets, videos, podcasts and more integrated into the app to keep its feature-count ahead of the pack.

The very fact it's far and away the most popular service helps keep people hooked, too, making it the most obvious way to share music (don't mention YouTube) between friends, on websites and more.



Lossless audio, exclusive music, curated playlists, videos, live concert streaming, buy tickets with Ticketmaster (US only), student discount (US only)

While Jay-Z's star-studded US launch may have been met with a level of derision in certain quarters, many of Tidal's features have since been borrowed by Apple Music and Spotify - from video content to buying concert tickets. 

Tidal is pushing hard on exclusives - music, videos and live concert streaming - albeit with a slant towards rap and hip-hop, and of course it still has its Tidal HiFi lossless audio option has a feather in its cap. Editorially curated playlists, including playlists from Jay-Z, Beyonce and more, also help set it apart from the alternatives.


MORE: Apple Music news and features

MORE: Apple Music review


Jaap Deventer's picture


I like Qobuz best. With only 5 euro for the basic subscription you can stream all you want to hear at 320kbps. Not bad at all. Music I really like I buy at CD-quality or Hi-rez. For me that's the best of both for now!


Cerce12's picture

Apple Music Streaming Service

Is It certain the Apple Streamer will be limited to 256kbs? If so, count me out? Streaming in CD quality changes the game, a low res bit count isn't worth my time and money. How ironic, if true, that Apple provides game- changing hardware and a dreck streamer? I know there are politics here and they don't want to cannibalize iTunes, but the horse has bolted. Very disappointing and a sign of an organization in the mature stage of its life cycle. Reinvigorate, or die, Apple: it's the law of the jungle.

Graham Luke's picture

Fruity goodness...

If the Apple stream is the same quality as the typical 256 AAC download, then I would have NO problem with that.

I think the quality of well recorded and mastered music sounds superb in that codec, either through 'phones or over the sound system and 'Mastered for iTunes' quality is a further bonus.

Testing has been done on this codec and sound guru Jim Rockwell has written much on the superb quality of Apple's product in 'Secrets of iTunes and iPod'.


Andy Clough's picture

Apple Music sound quality

Apple made no mention of sound quality on its streaming service on Monday night, and hasn't said anything since. We are assuming it will stream in the same quality as iTunes, but that's not official and we are still attempting to get clarification from Apple. If/when we get more info, we'll let you know.

KevBeel's picture

Device/Platforms - hi fi Streamers

Seems to me that this review should focus on what services work with decent hi fi streamers like Naim, Linn, Cyrus, etc rather than mobile phones.  It is What Hi Fi after all, not What Phone!



KevH's picture

256 is better than 320

I recently had some trouble getting Spotify to work, so instead decided to listen to the old music I have on my Phone. I was surprised to find that the 256AAC files blew away the 320 Spotify streams. I was so impressed I went into the audio settings to make sure it was set to "extreme". I've found I can improve Spotify sound quality by storing all its music local, however the improvement is marginal and not in the same league as the AAC files on my phone. So I guess the moral is it's not the size of your file, but what you do with it that counts.

So if it sounds better, and has Aiplay (meaning i can stream it throughout the house from iTunes) then this might be a winner for me.

Plus I get to listen to Zane Lowe again !

Andy Clough's picture

Sound quality

It looks as if Apple Music will stream at 256kbps, same bitrate as iTunes downloads.