Shopping around for your next music-streaming service? Looking for something first-party or unmetered on your data plan? Here’s our round-up of every music streaming and online radio service worth looking twice at.
In alphabetical order…
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.
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.
MOG was shut down in the US recently, so if you’re using a VPN and want to get access to the service, you might want to turn it off. Otherwise, you’ll be re-directed to the now Apple-owned Beats Music service, which isn’t available outside of the US.
Google Play Music
Google Play Music All Access – catchy name, right? – launched in Australia in last year, 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.
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.
Guvera’s most obvious selling point is free (ad-supported) access on mobile devices, which is something of a rarity in the space.
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.
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.
iTunes Radio is a passive streaming service rather than an on-demand platform like Spotify or Rdio. It’s more like Pandora: taking a particular artist of your choosing and creating a playlist of songs around it for you to listen to.
There are also curated playlists organised by genre or put together by popular artists for you to listen to as well. Apple curates this stuff country-by-country, which means right now there’s a big INXS push on the front page of the Store owing to the fact that the weekend’s mini-series event pushed all of the band’s old albums into the top 10 spots on iTunes.
Aussies will also get access to “First Play”, which is where an artist will release their album exclusively to iTunes first, making it available as a free playlist to Radio customers. We’ve already seen this with Daft Punk and Justin Timberlake in recent memory.
iTunes Radio is free to use for all iTunes customers, but you will be served ads if you’re not an iTunes Match subscriber. You get six song skips per hour on either the free or paid tiers.
Nokia MixRadio (formerly known as Nokia Music)
Concerned that these other apps don’t work on Windows Phone? Try Nokia MixRadio instead!
It replaces Nokia Music, and works as a lean-back radio service for your Lumia smartphone.
It’s free to start out, and gives you personalised playlists based on a few of your favourite artists. It works out based on your Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down interactions what to play you over time.
If you’re dead keen on the service, you can spend $4 per month for the premium tier, which gets you web streaming, higher quality music and unlimited downloads.
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.
Samsung Music Hub
It has been recently reported that Samsung’s Music Hub is not long for this world. Fear not in Australia, however: the Music Hub service is run by EMI, meaning that it isn’t going anywhere in favour of Samsung’s Milk service.
So 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.
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 4, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Xbox Music is a nice service that streams music between your Microsoft gear. So if you have a Surface, Xbox One, Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 laptop, it’s the music streaming service for you, because you can sync your tunes across all of your devices.
Xbox One 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.
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.
Beats Music is a little up in the air right now. It was set for an Australian release in the place of MOG, but that was held up following Apple’s acquisition of the service.
Telstra is now “looking forward to understanding the detail in due course”. Read: no clue when it’s coming to Australia.
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!
Music image via Shutterstock