(Consumer Reports) - Over the past decade, streaming music has surpassed both digital downloads and physical products like CDs and records—and is now 80 percent of the U.S. music market.
Streaming music is 80 percent of the U.S. music market. (Consumer Reports)
That according to the Recording Industry Association of America. But with so many streaming services— how do you know which one to choose?
When it comes to streaming music, your options are almost endless.
"In recent years, a lot of companies have entered the music streaming space, so it can be hard for consumers to pick which one is the best for them," Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports tech editor, said.
Most offer consumers a wide selection of music for around $10 a month for a single account… more for a family account. These services can be used on most devices, including your smart speaker. Some of the most popular are Apple Music and Spotify.
"Apple Music is nice if you have a lot of Apple products because it plays with the ecosystem really well. Spotify has really been investing in podcasts a lot over the past couple of years and one of the nice features that they have now is you can listen to podcasts and other kinds of audio directly within the same app, which can be really convenient," Germain said.
But if your needs are a little more specific…
"If you're an audiophile and you really care about the quality of the music you're streaming, there are a couple of options," Germain added.
Those options include Tidal and Amazon Music HD. You can expect to pay a little more for higher quality audio. Tidal's high-resolution audio tier costs $20 a month and Amazon Music HD is $15 a month. $13 if you're a Prime member. Keep in mind higher quality audio uses more data.
And if you're into classical music --
"There are a couple of options for you as well like Idagio and Primephonic, which are two services that are tailored for classical music and let you do things like sort by composer or performer," Germain said.
If you're still not sure which service is right for you, Consumer Reports offers a little advice.
"The good news is almost every option has a free trial period that you can sign up for before you commit to monthly payments," Germain said.
CR also says to make sure you read the fine print before signing up for any plan.
And, of course, if you don't want to pay anything for your streaming services—many like YouTube Music, Spotify, and Pandora— offer free versions with ads.