A Guide to Finding the Right Music Streaming Service


These days, there are a bunch of online music options for the digital audiophile, and finding the best music streaming service for your needs can be overwhelming. To make the situation less whelming, we suggest following the handy-dandy flowchart we created below, with the various pros and cons for each of the major ways you can stream music on the internet. If you know how to answer yes/no questions, then you should have no trouble finding the best fit for both your musical tastes and your budget. (If you don't know how to answer a simple yes/no question, might we suggest a career in politics? POW! Take that, Capitol Hill!)

While considering the cost of some of these streaming services, keep in mind that we frequently see special promotions that cut prices, if only temporarily. For example, earlier this week, we found a deal that offered a 3-month Rdio Unlimited subscription for free, which was a savings of about $30. These offers don't last long (obviously, as that Rdio promo has expired), so make sure to set up an email alert for the service of your choice.

It's also worth repeating that there may be more than one music streaming service that could work for you, but we're aiming to present the best fit for your needs. Additionally, there are other music streaming services out there that we didn't mention, but these are the major movers-and-shakers getting the big-ink these days. Think you know of another, better service that people should try? Let us know in the comments below!

Front page photo credit: Have You Heard It?

Jeff Somogyi
Contributing Writer

Jeff Somogyi is constantly trying to come up with ways to surprise and delight audiences the world over. He takes humor seriously ... too seriously. (Honestly, we've never seen him laugh ... it's kinda creepy.)
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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Any chance of a modern update to this article / chart?
for one thing Spotify unlimited is gone now...
I use torch music which isn't on here. But great way to get free streaming without adds (and without doing it illegally). Of course, according to this chart I have jail time in my future!
A bigger issue is that MOG was left off of this list. It is far superior than ANY of these services.
Xbox Live music windows tablet, PC, Xbox or win phone 15 ish a month and other features, not saying its the best but should be mentioned. It will complement your on tracks with recommendations from the store.

I read your extended post, and it seems like you should do a review of the services/options out there based on your experiences with different options.
Hi Jeff,

I came upon this article—and specifically, your streaming decision flowchart—because it is featured at AWildDuck.com (in fact, it is the top story). I find value in decision aids presented as a flowchart, but I am perplexed by the absence of important decision points that are fundamental to the selection criteria for many consumers...

The Dealnews comment form is limited to 1,000 characters. So with profound respect and a humble desire for a more comprehensive update, I cite 7 overlooked decision criteria on my own web page: vanquish (d0t) com (slash) music_stream_flowchart (d0t) txt. I would be honored by your response here in your comment thread.

Phil R. (Vanquish Labs, CEO)
I am not in the business of streaming or cloud storage
You left out Rhapsody...the only (?) service that lets you download and transfer tracks to a supported MP3 players (like the Sansa Clip Zip), which for me is worthwhile for workouts and jogging.
You could also add Google Play and Amazon live streams or stream your own music stored on their service or downloaded to your device.
You really need to check out and add iHeartRadio - it has ads, but it's free, can do streaming terestrial based radio and pre-programmed internet stations, and choose your own artists/songs/groups.
Alison Barretta (DealNews)
@dealnews-Lindsay: Considering my eclectic tastes in music (bring me more Kpop) I'm in no place to judge. And who doesn't like a good 90s dance party every now and then?

Meanwhile, who here remembers Lala? Sigh.
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@dealnews-Alison I sometimes go on a 90s tear on Spotify... I hope you don't judge me if you're snooping during those times.
Alison Barretta (DealNews)
I never heard of a flowchart being "too organized." ;)

As for music streaming: Pandora for seeking out new songs; Spotify for when I want to snoop on what my friends and coworkers are listening to; rdio Unlimited for making train rides bearable (thanks to mobile streaming). I've heard good things about Slacker so maybe I'll give that a try someday.
Sadly, my first run through this chart ended at "piracy". I'll try again...
Jeffrey Contray (DealNews)
@Jumpman I know? And where's the infinite loop?
Um, this flowchart is way too organized. Good flow charts should have each line cross at least three other lines.