Music Streaming Services In Australia: What's New, What's Never Arriving

What do you mean you still buy music? Donchaknow all the kids are streaming it these days? Here are the best music streaming services currently available in Australia, as well as a look at what's not going to come here. Over 20 services to check out...

This is the latest instalment in Gizmodo Australia's big Smartphone Buying Guide rolling-out Mondays and Wednesdays in October.

In no particular order...

Samsung Music Hub

If you've got one of everything from Samsung in your house, it makes complete sense to turn to the Samsung content fountain too, right? Samsung Music Hub has been overhauled and restyled, sporting hundreds of thousands of tracks from Aussie and international artists.

Samsung’s Music Hub is only for Samsung Galaxy tablet and smartphone users. It’s got all the big hits from major record labels, and it’s pretty good value - $9.99 for a single mobile user, or $12.99 across four devices simultaneously, and all accounts qualify for a free first month.


Google Play Music

Google Play Music All Access - catchy name, right? - launched in Australia in mid-July, giving all-you-can-listen access to Google’s library of 18 million music tracks. It’s a flat $9.99 per month with an Android app available, but no iOS version. You can try Play Music All Access free for a month before you’re automatically charged.

All Access is a service that takes the best parts of other music services and blends it together. You can upload 20,000 songs to a digital locker in the cloud to keep and have and hold forever like iTunes Match, you can stream songs from curated radio stations like on Pandora and you can buy stuff to keep forever just like Google Play, ironically.


Torch Music

Torch Music is a specialised version of Google’s Chrome browser, also available as an Android app, which works as a social music discovery service delivering videos and audio directly from YouTube.

You can sign in with your Facebook account to share music with your friends, and it’s all free - the only catch is that as soon as you switch apps or lock your phone, the music stops. It’s also a data hog.


iHeartRadio

Thanks to a partnership with Australian Radio Network, iHeartRadio has officially launched in Australia.

Rather than being an all-you-can-eat, on-demand music streaming service, iHeartRadio is like Pandora: an internet radio service for internet and terrestrial radio stations around the world. It's free, unlimited and gradually opening up to Australians between now and September.


Sony Music Unlimited

Music Unlimited is Sony's own on-demand streaming service that it loads onto everything from Xperia phones and tablets right through to the Playstation 3 and PS Vita.

Launched in June 2010, it supports both iOS and Android platforms runs on a monthly subscription model. It's great if you use a few different Sony devices (or even just the one) and want to sync your tunes with your vendor's-own platform.


Nokia Music

Nokia Music is one of the freshest streaming services on the scene, offering Lumia users an alternative to services like Spotify. It supports both streaming of music from playlists as well as a streaming radio service based on your preferences.

You'll only get Nokia Music, funnily enough, if you have a Nokia Lumia handset, and it'll set you back $4.99 a month for the premium tier.

Nokia Music also allows a limited number of music playlist downloads for free users and unlimited downloads for members, so you can sync your favourite tracks and listen to them without busting through your data cap.


iTunes

While not technically a streaming service, iTunes has Match, a service that identifies the music in your library and matches it to what's already stored in Apple's cloud. From there, it lets you stream the music you already own across your authorised devices for $34.99 a year paid upfront.


Spotify

Spotify took the world by storm when it launched, and eventually it blew into Australia as the streaming wars were hotting up and got everyone all excited for new music paradigms or whatever.

Spotify has both an ad-supported (read: free) tier, as well as a premium tier that ditches the ads, ups the audio quality and enables offline synchronisation with your devices. That will set you back $12 per month.


Rdio

Rdio is the next best thing to Spotify -- depending on who you ask, of course -- which now runs both freemium and premium tiers. You get 12 million tracks for your $12.90 per month, but interestingly, you get three months of premium for free with no questions asked if you just sign up for an account.

That free offer is governed by a mysterious fair-play policy that restricts how much you can actually stream per month, but it's nice just to test out the service to see if you want to fork over your dollars or not.


Pandora

Pandora isn't so much a music streaming service as it is an internet radio service.

Pandora’s point of difference is music curation by the numbers. It analyses what you give your up votes and down votes to before recommending other tracks based on that information.

Pricing at the moment looks to mirror US pricing: $3.99 for a one-month subscription and $36 for a one-year subscription.


Grooveshark

Grooveshark is a web-based streaming service that runs in a browser and pumps out visual, rather than audio, ads to support itself. People upload music to Grooveshark at will and the service lets you register, build playlists, stream and start artist radio streaming.

The only issue with it is that it's currently being accused by music industry heavyweights like Universal and Sony that it's in violation of copyrights. Get it before it's gone.

MOG

MOG is an international streaming service that Telstra and BigPond decided it needed in Australia to try and remain competitive in the music space.

A 14-day free trial is available of the service and it's unmetered if you're a Telstra BigPond customer. A basic subscription costs $6.99 per month and gets you access to music on your computer, but mobile streaming and offline syncing cost extra at $11.99 per month.


Songl

Backed by Southern Cross Austereo (of 2Day Network fame), Sony and Univeral, Songl is an attempt to guide revenue back into radio network coffers. You get both an ad-supported tier for free and a premium tier for $12.99 per month with Songl, as well as access to streaming radio from Triple M and 2DayFM networks.

You can also keep 1000 songs in an offline cache on your tablet or smartphone, if you're into that sort of thing.

Guevera

Guvera's most obvious selling point is free (ad-supported) access on mobile devices, which is something of a rarity in the space.


Deezer

Deezer is an interesting little social media-based streaming service that offers you free, unlimited music streaming for 12-months. After that time you're restricted to two hours of streaming per month, or you can jump onto the $6.99 tier which gets rid of ads and enables radio services, or you can get onto the Premium+ tier which allows streaming over 3G/4G networks and offline syncing.

12-months free is a pretty sweet deal, though.


RaRa

Rara's big selling points are a nice-looking interface and hand-curated playlists. No free option, but it does have some nice apps.


Xbox Music

Xbox Music is a nice service that streams music between your Microsoft gear. So if you have a Surface, Xbox 360, Windows Phone and Windows 8 laptop, it's the music streaming service for you, because you can sync your tunes across all of your devices.

Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 8 users will have to pay $11.99 per month for an Xbox Music Pass which gives them access to the service. That includes the millions of songs Windows users will get, as well as the option for unlimited playlists, but on top of that, Xbox 360 users get tens of thousands of music videos, too. You know, for when you want to relive the glory days of Video Hits in your lounge room.


JB Hi-Fi NOW

JB Hi-Fi is still one of the most prolific sellers of CDs and vinyl records in Australia, so naturally it's going to try and cash in on its dominance in the online space, too.

In terms of charges, Now will cost $25 for a three month subscription, $50 for six months or $80 for a full year. The JB Hi-Fi NOW service is also available as mobile streaming service on up to two devices at once, costing $8.25 per month during a 12 month $99 subscription.


New Myspace

Myspace has been the butt of many jokes for some time now, but the first massive social network has been revived by new owners with guidance from pop guru Justin Timberlake as a hub for artists to upload their music for the streaming joy of members.

It's still in its early stages but it doesn't look like Myspace has any subscription tiers when it comes to streaming music, the only catch is that there are no apps, it's all web-based streaming.


As you can see, Australia has quite a saturated streaming music market, but there are a few services that aren't available locally that we still pine for.

Absentees

Last.fm

Scrobbling works fine anywhere, but Last.fm's radio service is only available in Australia via VPN (See Lifehacker's Guide To Streaming Blocked Overseas Content). Using your data, it will serve up some choice stuff you've never heard of, as you dig around in the community, Last.fm opens itself up in the way a record collection used to. Luckily, because Last.fm's platform is open, you can take advantage of all of its good parts, and use it to improve other services with better user interfaces. Free or $US5 if you want to listen to music on the standalone desktop app.

Slacker Radio

Slacker Radio is only available in Australia via VPN. Its on-demand service notwithstanding, Slacker's focus has always been radio, and importantly, curated radio stations. This is real radio because it's assembled by real people rather than by an algorithm. Many of these stations are excellent. After you make an artist-based playlist, you can tweak the mix of music with six different sliders, which can be used to create some interesting blends. Free ad-supported, $US5 unlimited radio with mobile station caching, $US10 unlimited radio and on-demand music.

Turntable.fm

Turntable.fm is a fun little music service where friends can gather in a digital room and sling records back and forth to create mixes. It was available internationally for a minute after its launch before its owners got copyright attention and threw up the geoblocks. Sorry, Aussie mixers.


What's your favourite music streaming service? Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments!

Angus Kidman also contributed to this article.

Headphones image via Shutterstock


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Comments

    Just pointing out that Nokia Music also offers offline downloads for playlists.

      4 offline download playlist for free user and unlimited playlist download for premium user.
      You don't even have to register to anything for the free stuff as long as you have a nokia lumia handset!

    Xbox Music hands down provides the best experience on Windows Phone than any other service does on any platform

    Awesome to see @lukehopewell includes xbox music - it has the potential to rival all services right now, with default users on xbox's, new PC's, and (somewhat less numbers here) on windows phone. That and it's an awesome service! Been using it for long enough I still just call it Zune.

    Conspicuously missing in an article about music services the other day... Which was odd.

      I didn't realise Xbox Music was Zune, but I guess it makes sense. Zune is an excellent music service in my experience.

    I buy music because not all artists benefit from streaming services. Smaller labels for example. Support the artists you love, and buy their music.

      Streaming services are a good way to find new music though.
      They are essentially a new form of radio.
      I don't think streaming and buying are mutually exclusive and I don't think people should be denigrating streaming services as killing the industry.

      The issue isnt Buying vs Streaming, the issue is Getting Music Through Distribution Streams That Take Heavy Cuts vs Getting Music Through Streams That Don't.

      I'd see a pittance from streaming, but I also see a pittance from iTunes sales. Apple take 30% off the top, and the label get 90% of what's left.

      If you really want to support artists, use distribution methods that are as close to the band as possible. Self pressed CDs, CDBaby or downloads from official websites where available.

      agree with you on that one. the amount of money the artist gets from thier music played on streaming is quite crap. i know its better than people stealing it but yeah if you love the music buy the album

      Since I've started listening to pandora I've bought 7 CDs, several are from artists I'd never heard before. It's only been a month, but I've not come across so much great music that is new to me in such a short period of time ever in my life. Pandora has been a boon for my music consumption, discovery, and purchasing.

    Also Pandora is free for Windows Phone users until the end of the year!

      Yep - top deal there with a v. high quality app from Pandora on WP.

      Pandora is a superb app too, I love that it's free for all of 2013. Then we have Xbox Music, then we have Spotify and we also have the very good Nokia Music which requires no signing up, 6 songs per hour music streaming.

      If you love music streaming WP has some really great options.

    Really good article, Luke. Now, if only mobile data was cheaper in Aus. I pay $10/mth extra on my ph contract to have 1.5Gb/month mobile data with Telstra. I can stream my home music library to my Android phone but I still have to have the bulk of the tracks I want to listen to stored locally on the handset otherwise I'd regularly exceed my cap (using decent bitrates that is) and we all know the penalty for exceeding your data cap is exorbitent.

      If you're a telstra mobile customer MOG is unmetered, so no need to worry about data allowance. Easy.

      If you use Google Play Music when you listen to a song it caches it locally so if you listen to songs multiple times you only pay to download it once until you clear your cache. It also gives the option to save it locally so I will often store some music while I'm at home on wifi if I'm going on a road trip.

    So all junk alternatives to torrent sites which provide you with greater quality and selection. Pass.

      I suppose if they had an article on the best cafes, you'd say they were all junk alternatives to punching a guy on the street in the face and stealing his coffee, too.

        Maybe checking out his recipe and asking someone to make me one.

          No. That'd be the equivalent of Blakey deciding to learn an instrument and produce his own music as opposed to accessing that of other people. Zombie Jesus' analogy is more accurate, although you don't need to punch anyone to download a torrent (unfortunately).

            you don't need to punch anyone to download a torrent

            Sure, you don't need to, just like you don't need sugar in your coffee.

      Even if torrents were ethically viable, I find streaming services (I currently use Spotify) much more convenient - particularly if I want to listen to a variety of new music on my portable device. Torrents don't provide recommendations, don't provide a means of playing the music, and are less useful for accessing individual tracks by an artist.

        However they do offer lossless audio which is an option I would like to see from music download services.

    I could listen all my favorite music in offline with ArkMC app on my IPod, just downloaded with wi-fi from App store documents and enjoy it !

    Pandora has a free, ad supported version too. I use it all the time.

    I personally use mog and really enjoy it. Admittedly the fact that it isn't counted towards your download limit is what got me to use it in the first place.

    We Are Hunted was a favorite of mine until Twitter brought it recently. It's been sitting dead since. I know it's to be revamped with Sound Cloud. But at the very least they could have let it's users know this instead of just posting that the service is down.

    Heck even the app's still available on Google Play. Seriously what's the point in having a dead app available to download when they can't even tell users it no longer works?

    I think you should mention that when using a Telstra Mobile phone service that MOG is an unlimited streaming option as it is considered/counted as a Bigpond-Unmetred content product.

    This makes it mucher safer for your wallet than any other service.

    MOG is great primarily because you aren't charged for the data on Telstra. I listen to it almost endlessly on my iPhone.

    You don't need to be a Telstra BigPond customer for unmetered MOG. It's unmetered on Telstra mobile networks, too.

    I use Spotify premium, and I love it. I wish we had Google Music here though.

      Hi - we do have Google music here (I assume you mean Australia?).
      I tried it for free for a month and synced it to my phone and it works well, nice interface and syncing actually showed what was being synced in the notifications so you could control that if you liked.
      Like spotify you can include your own tunes to the app (which get stored in the cloud), but unlike spotify it only has a web interface (useless for managing my 1700 songs).
      It also didn't have as many of the songs I like so for the extra dollar a month I'm sticking with spotify premium.

        Oh, back when I posted that in April, I don't think it was available. I made the switch about 3 months ago :)

          Don't you hate it when they regurgitate months-old articles as though they were new?

    You should perhaps mention that Xbox Music is free (ad-supported) on Windows 8. I don't know whether the free option is available on other devices.

    What about last.fm.. the OG music streaming service. (as far as I know)

    I tried spotify when it first came to Australia but found it confusing, difficult to navigate, and from what I can see you can't add whole artists or albums to your list and then shuffle them. I can't see the point of it and don't understand it.

    I have paid for sky.fm/di.fm since 2003. (one subscription gives you all channels on both sites) It costs $49 per year. I'm suprised it's not on this list since other "premium radio services" are on this list. This is much better and easier than spotify. The quality is better too and it will play on any device you like (since premium users can get the URLs for each stream to put to any device).

    I just pick a genre i feel like listening to at the time and music comes out - what could be simpler than that?

    I believe it's also the oldest streaming or internet radio service on the web.

    Last edited 03/04/13 4:32 pm

    Does no one use RadioIO anymore? Love those streaming stations.

    I am already using Audials Tunebite to capture and save streaming Musics from online streaming library.This one gets me good quality song plus I can also use it to convert recorded music streams to any format I need for easy listening. Here is the download link http://audials.com/en/how_to_record_internet_radios/rick_dees.html

    I am sorry about the wrong link but this is the corresponding link.
    http://audials.com/en/tunebite/index.html

    there is all this talk about download offline playlists....WTF i dont want to have a offline playlist. i want a full 320kbps album. AND NOT a 320kbps album playlist. i just hope that in the future you can still buy music and download it. it just is horrifying that in the future we will have to stream everything! Streaming is not practical , unless you live in a busy city and have really good internet nd don mide wasting you bandwidth on music which you could be using for other things!!!! this is just a stupid FAD that people are getting into. i hope it will go away one day. anyway i use google play to download all my album and then put them on my 64gb micro SD card on my HTC mid range phone via the HTC sync manager.
    ALSO IF YOU HAVENT FIGURED IT OUT YET > MUSIC STREAMING HAS TO BUFFER LOL. also say goodbye to bandwidth (cos of 320kbps streaming) unless you choose to stream in shitty 192kbps..

      Jesus dude. Chill. We're having a discussion. You can make your points without yelling and carrying on.

    What about google play music all access???

    Xbox Music is a fantastic service. No Ad's and it just works. If you have multiple Windows 8 machines (and windows phones) having all your music and playlists just sync automatically is great. Its very hard to fault a service like that.

    Its now also available through web browsers when you go to music.xbox.com so you can access your music anywhere (even on a MAC).

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