When I wrote up Rhapsody's unRadio service on Wednesday, my knee-jerk reaction was "Who cares?" The streaming music market is already crowded, the independent services aren't making any money, and unRadio was just more of the same.
That got me thinking about the market, though, and I realized I couldn't put my finger on exactly which services offered which features. I also had no idea who was charging what. The obvious solution was to put together a chart and discuss the differences and advantages of these services.
Note, however, that I've spent little time using most of these services. iTunes Radio and Pandora are what I use when not listening to music I quaintly own, and this feature comparison is more about paper specs than user experience. I researched the ever-loving crap out of these services, however, and the difficulty of finding all of this information only emphasized the usefulness of the chart.
First, we'll look at the chart. My thoughts follow, below the fold.
[Update 2: Sony's service was corrected to Music Unlimited and more compatible devices were added. In addition, Rhapsody's flagship service was added as a separate entry from unRadio making a total of 14 services. A clarifying statement about Rhapsody's catalog was also added. - Editor]
[Update: the table has been updated with additional services that are available on Sonos. - Editor]
|Streaming Music Feature Comparison|
|iTunes Radio||√||Included with $25 iTunes Match subscription||√||√||iOS, OS X, Windows, Apple TV||256 Kbps||26M|
|Beats Music||$10/mo.||√||√||√||iOS, Android, Browser, Windows, Sonos||320 Kbps||20M|
|iOS, Android, BlackBerry, OS X, Windows, Sonos||320 Kbps||20M|
|Pandora||√||$5/mo.||√||iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Browser, Pandora||192 Kbps||1M|
|Google Play||$10/mo.||√||√||iOS, Android, Browser, Sonos||320 Kbps||20M|
|Last.fm||√||$3/mo.||√||√||iOS, Android, OS X, Windows, Linux, Browser, Sonos, Xbox||128 Kbps|
|Rdio||√||$10/mo||√||√||√||iOS, Android, BlackBerry, OS X, Windows, Browser, Sonos||192 Kbps||20M|
|iHeart Radio||N/A||Free||√||iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, Browser, Sonos, Roku, Xbox||15M|
|$5/mo. (desktop and gaming only)
|√||√||√||iOS, android, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 PlayStation Vita, Browser, Sony TVs & Blu-ray Players||320 Kbps||25M|
|Amazon Prime Music||N/A||Included with $99 annual Prime subscription||√||√||iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Fire Phone, OS X, Windows, Roku, Sonos, Browser, Samsung TVs||Up to 256 Kbps||1M|
|Rhapsody unRadio||$5/mo.||√||√||√ (limited)||iOS, Android, BlackBerry, OS X, Windows, FordSync||192 Kbps||32M*|
|Rhapsody/Napster||$10/mo.||√||√||√||√||iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Windows, Browser, Sonos, Xbox, Car, Various Receivers, Various TVs, FordSync||192 Kbps||32M*|
|√||√||iOS, Android, Windows, Browser, Sonos, Xbox||128 Kbps||13M|
|Xbox Music||√||$10/mo.||√||iOS, Android, Windows, Browser, Xbox||192 Kbps||
*32 million tracks are available in Rhapsody's global catalog. The company doesn't break down availability by country, and it's not clear if all tracks are available in all markets, including the U.S.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Next: Price, Catalog Depth, and Quality