Apple Music, Spotify, Rhapsody & Tidal in action. (iDeathstar Wallpaper available via 365daysofdesign)
Stream Wars appears to be the new shaper of the media landscape in 2015. Apple Music entered a crowded (battle)field of streaming services this week, going head to head with platforms like Spotify, industry vets Rhapsody and Jay Z‘s contentious, star-powered vanity platform Tidal. So who’s got the goods? The answer, of course, depends what you’re looking for in your streaming experience. Are you an audiophile who’ll stop at nothing to hear your favorite music at the highest quality possible? Do you crave slick menus and pretty color schemes? Or are you more of a utilitarian–a “function over form” type who just wants to hear what they want, when they want, anything that gets in the way be damned?
These questions and others like them are critical when it comes to choosing which music streaming service is right for you. Analog holdouts may still prefer sinking their hard-earned cash into vinyl and CDs, but the truth is, if you’re reading this, you’re probably streaming. A lot. More and more today, our favorite melodies, beats, lyrics and chord structures arrive to us by way of online data. Streaming services have been on a feverish rise across the entire music industry, taking a 54% spike from 2013 to 2014. Spotify and Pandora continue to dominate even as Apple splashes (or, perhaps, slowly wades) into the pool of streaming competitors, which means the trial-and-error, word of mouth method of choosing a music platform is becoming increasingly unreliable–not to mention time-sucking.
With all that in mind we decided to take the wheel for an extensive test drive ourselves, assigning Okayplayer writer Scott Heins and Okayafrica CEO Abiola Oke to strap on their helmets and climb into the cockpit and risk their ears to put together a brisk user’s guide on how to navigate new service, and what to consider in its pre-existing competitors. From Spotify’s unadorned reliability to Tiday’s hi-fi library, there are now clear differences in what each service offers. Which is right for you? Click through to get our takes on the more estabished services, as well as a thorough breakdown of the early promises and problems of Apple Music.