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Choosing my next music streaming service

Music Jan 29, 2022

If you have been living under a rock this week, Spotify decided to choose mis-information about t h e  p l a g u e over talent that is on their platform leading to Neil Young to pull his music off the service.

It's now time to see what the competition has available and how they shape up against the giant that is Spotify.

Pre-requisites:

  • Must be available at a decent price (In around €10 per month)
  • Must have a desktop application for Windows (Web player does not count)
  • Must have an Android app.

This will be broken down in four categories.

  • Pricing - Trial and then cost afterwards
  • Availability - What songs are available.
  • Applications - What are the applications for Windows/Android like.
  • Discoverability - How can I discover new music based on what I like.

Equipment: I am using two devices for this. A Windows 11 PC and my Samsung Galaxy A41 running Android 11.

Pricing:

Our benchmark throughout this is going to be Spotify of course... All pricing is correct as of 28th January 2022. I'm also not including Family Plans, Student plans or "plus" tiers. Just the bog standard plans.

  • Spotify (Benchmark) - 1 month free trial then €9.99 per month
  • Apple Music - 3 months free trial then €9.99 per month +1 point
  • Tidal - 1 month free trial* then €9.99 per month 0 points
  • Deezer - 1 month free trial then €11.99 per month -1 point

Note: Tidal had an offer to sign up for 3 months at €1 then €9.99 a month afterwards which is what I went with. The offer may not be available if you are reading this in the future.

While the standard here is 1 month, it's hard to pass up Apple's 3-month free trial and then €9.99 per month afterwards for the service. Deezer is the most expensive of the lot here.

Current Score

  • Apple Music - 1pt
  • Tidal - 0pts
  • Deezer - -1pt

Availability

If you even remotely know me, you probably know that I like Japanese music. Whether that is City Pop, J-Rock, J-Pop, or game soundtracks, I like it. So it's going to be important for these services to have a lot of the songs that I listen to available.

A challenge that I gave the other platforms was to re-create my 2021 Spotify playlist. In here is game OST's, WWE music, city pop, future funk and even some covers. A good selection.

Each service must have had the exact same song, either from the same album or on another compilation, but it can't be a cover (Unless it's already a cover ha!)

  • Spotify (Benchmark) - 54
  • Apple Music - 54 out of 54
  • Tidal - 16 out of 54
  • Deezer - 35 out of 54

I was blown away with Apple Music. Even going as far as turning the Hiragana/Katakana into Romaji and giving me the search results. A lot of the music that I was looking for was translated from Japanese into English. Very Impressive. +1 point

Tidal was a massive disappointment. I had high hopes for the platform but it just couldn't give me anything remotely close. A lot of artists were missing. -1 point

Deezer was 'OK'. It had some of the artists but their discography was either lacking or contained only 1 single. An example would be: GOLDEN BOMBER. It had the song that I was looking for but nothing else. No other songs, no other albums. And they weren't alone as multiple artists only had 1 single as well. 0 points

Current Scores:

  • Apple Music - 2pts
  • Deezer: 0pts
  • Tidal: -1pt

Applications

Apple Music

  • Windows - Oh boy... You are forced to use iTunes if you want to use Apple Music on Windows. There is no way around it. The interface is slow and can be clunky to use. Once you are in the 'Browse' page and looking at content on the Apple Music page, it's fine.
    Download methods: .exe from the Apple website or through the Microsoft Store. -1 point
  • Android App - Probably the best way to use the service unless you are using a Mac. More modern and clearly a port of the iOS version. 0 points

Tidal

  • Windows - Electron app. Very similar but more simplistic layout compared to Spotify. Could do with a bit more colour on it. Performs well, but doesn't stray far from the Spotify way of displaying music.
    Download methods: .exe from the Tidal website or through the Microsoft Store.0 points
  • Android App - App seems a bit more fleshed out compared to it's desktop counterpart. Quite responsive. Loading times are very quick when loading artists or albums. +1 point

Deezer

  • Windows App - Electon app. Similar layout to Tidal/Spotify but it works. Exploration throughout the app is very similar to Spotify and the search is really really powerful.
    Download methods: Microsoft Store only. +1 point
  • Android App - Again, very similar to how Spotify and even Apple Music is laid out. It does the job it needs to. 0 points

Current Scores:

  • Apple Music - 1pt
  • Tidal - 0pts
  • Deezer - 1pt

Discoverability

For this, I want to see how well each application shows me recommendations based on the music that I like or have put into my playlists.

  • Apple Music - They have this 'For You' tab in iTunes with different 'stations' based on artists that I liked and does a decent job of giving me "X + Similar Artists" station but it only gives a handful. More would be nice.

    If you are viewing an album, it will show you recommended artists based on the one that you are viewing. I wish this was more fleshed out to show individual tracks, perhaps albums. Room to improve. 0 points
  • Tidal - Absolutely abysmal. Other than a playlist based on the artists that I chose during the onboarding wizard, it has not recommended me anything that I haven't listened to before.

    The 'Explore' tab is a bunch of R&B and Hip Hop music that is curated and presented by Tidal themselves. -1 point
  • Deezer - This has been the best of the whole lot. It is giving daily playlists (ala Daily Mix from Spotify), playlists based on the music that I have added to playlists/listened to and other artists that I may like.

    Wayyyy better than any of the other services including Spotify. +1 point

Final Scores:

  • Deezer: 2 points
  • Apple Music: 1 point
  • Tidal: -1 point

Conclusion:

Deezer edged out a victory against Apple Music thanks to it's discoverability. On the flip side, their catalogue, while containing lots of artists, has a scarce discography.

Apple let itself down with the enforcement of an unmaintained iTunes for Windows and has a serious discoverability issue. But it makes this up in song availability.

Tidal is just flat out poor. It couldn't find a majority of the songs that I had in my playlists, and was missing a lot of my favourite artists and songs. And they were pushing their own curated content on top of this.

Their only redeeming feature were the applications.


I am going to cancel my Tidal subscription and uninstall the apps. I can see it working for certain people who are into HiFi music but for me personally, it doesn't fit the bill.

I'm in two minds about Deezer, while I like their discoverability, the lack of availability is really putting me off.

And it's the opposite for Apple Music, their discoverability is poor but availability is good. And while it's bad, iTunes is usable for me.

For now, I am going to give Apple and Deezer their free trial periods a chance to see if they can impress me.

Tags

Padraig Fahy

A tech support guy by day and a gamer by night!

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