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Article: What does 2018 hold for Music Streaming Services?

StanleyKubrick

Active Member
Interesting article, thank you Ed.
I'm in my elder years and as a music lover who listens daily (yes I still listen at night with the zombie box turned off) I thought I'd try different streaming services (Amazon/Apple/Spotify) and without doubt in my honest opinion Spotify wins hands down for ease of use, quality and uses very little bandwidth even at high bit rate. I hear Spotify are testing Higher Bit Rates but to be honest when I stream 320kbps on Spotify it sounds fine for the most part, if it's an album I have on hard drive in 16 or 24 bit I switch to that, however that's rare nowadays.
One thing that I love about it, is it links to similar types of genres and I have now found artists I would of never found without it.
I will be absolutely gutted if I lose it.
FOOT NOTE: Another hurdle for music streaming is a certain demographic 'listens' to music via Y**T*** and obviously that's free. I searched once for a rare bootleg 12'' single years ago and there it was, nowadays I don't think there isn't a single track/album that's not available on Y**T***, how they get away with it is truly amazing, and also I never hear one record label or artist mention Y**T***.
 
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humanfish

Well-known Member
A very interesting read.
 

Kotatsu Neko

Well-known Member
The elephant in the room is YouTube. It's huge, it has most music on it, and it's free. Quality counts for nothing when the cost is £0. Where I work most people listen to music all day and I'd say the split is about 50% YT and 50% Spotify.

I'm not a huge music guy but I do subscribe to Spotify. It's fine for my needs, but I'm exactly a very discerning music listener. Most of the music I listen to is old and is through headphones (Bose QC35). I used to listen to a lot of movie soundtracks too which would probably benefit from higher quality audio, but I do less of that now as to be frank virtually all modern movie soundtracks are garbage.
 

StephaneBosman

Active Member
The reason the music industry has stuck with the CD format is that it is very good indeed. Sony and Philips did an extraordinary job and produced a format that still is practical and plenty good enough if produced competently.

MP3, AAC, whatever, it is good but we do hear the loss at home. We have a Spotify family account and are very happy with it, but for the relatively few pieces we really love we purchase either the CD or the vinyl. We used to buy FLAC high-res files but very often now they are more expensive than the actual CD, which is a bit crazy.

I really hope Spotify makes it, I find them much more competent than Amazon in providing an interesting music service. Amazon is providing mere distribution, really.

We used to have a Qobuz subscription. I think Qobuz is the most interesting music service, but alas the app on Android is very unreliable and that killed it for us.

Between Spotify, CDs and vinyls, there has never been a better supply of ways to get music.
 

psikey

Distinguished Member
Good read but only iPhone users really want to use Apple music.

Once Spotify add a Hi-def/MQA option I think Tidal could disappear, but seeing as only way to get bit-perfect playback via Android via quality external DAC (and with UAPP app) I hope it doesn't. External DAC users connected to phones is likely small in the grand scheme of things so who knows. At the £9.99 price if "money is king" then its Spotify every time.

I always come back to Spotify for ease of use and speed of operation. Spotify Connect is especially good. I've tried many of the others but never stopped my Spotify Premium sub which I've had for years now.
 
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invisiblekid

Distinguished Member
Good read but only iPhone users really want to use Apple music.

Once Spotify add a Hi-def/MQA option I think Tidal could disappear, but seeing as only way to get bit-perfect playback via Android via quality external DAC (and with UAPP app) I hope it doesn't. External DAC users connected to phones is likely small in the grand scheme of things so who knows. At the £9.99 price if "money is king" then its Spotify every time.

I always come back to Spotify for ease of use and speed of operation. Spotify Connect is especially good. I've tried many of the others but never stopped my Spotify Premium sub which I've had for years now.
I have an iPhone and in no way want to use Apple Music! Tried the free trial and carried on a for a few months, but I found the integration of my own music (granted this is not an issue for everyone) and Apple's music to be terrible and the UI blurgh and just nasty.

I've not long cancelled my Tidal subscription and kept Spotify. Not sure I should have done, but so far Spotify is enough. Even with a US account saving a few quid, it was too costly for me to keep both so Spotify's curated playlists and slightly better content won........for now.
 

mushii

Well-known Member
My music listening is very eratic. We have Spotify for family listening which is OK for daily stuff and frequent parties (easy play lists). I also have about 2Tb of MP3 ripped music (that I own) on my Synology NAS and lately I have started buying Hi Def Audio 24/96 and 24/192 FLACs for the stuff that I really care about. I have also started listening to my old CDs again and have started to re-rip them to FLAC. I am really torn over streaming services I love the convenience but I also still like owning physical media.

Streaming media is a dichotomy - its convenience is great BUT people seldom sit down and listen to an album any more, and because of that I think that I lot of great music is lost or overlooked. Once upon a time music had intrinsic value (you could hold it, you could trade it) and people valued it, because to listen to music required some degree of effort. Now music has almost zero intrinsic value, as you don't touch it, you cant trade it, and playing it is almost effortless. Combine this with low bit/sample rate rate highly compressed MP3s and crappy Beats headphones and there is a whole generation that has never heard Hi Fidelity music, which in my opinion devalues it further. Don't get me wrong, I am not some Luddite who wants to go back to the dark-ages of analogue only music played on gramophones, but at the same time, where movies gained from advances in technology, such as 1080p and 4k media and displays, I feel that the reverse has happened for music. We have gone from Hi-Fi systems (even midi systems) with separate components and full range speakers to mobile phones, crappy bass inducing headphones and tiny, tinny Blu-tooth speakers. Even with the rise of HQ Audio streaming services I guess much of this material will be consumed on some fairly low grade (audio) equipment. I think that for 95% of the population, hifi today equates to a £300 Apple Home Pod or a single £500 Sonos Play 5 (I will probably get some push back on these forums on these numbers, but that is because these forums are mainly made up of the remaining 5%, who do actually own HiFi). Sadly I dont think that the rise in HD streaming services will ever bring HiFi back to the masses, because although the media will be available (ish) the outlets that sell the equipment to play HiFi music have sadly disappeared from the high street and are now relegated to small specialist outlets very often in small towns, which are only visited by old-guys in cardigans (like me) who want or can afford to buy un-attractive boxes with odd sounding names. I know there are a couple of Retail Chains left that sell hifi equipment but they have their own problems (like not opening until 11am or not actually holding any stock in stores!).

At the end of all of this, streaming media is here to stay. How long physical media will be around, who knows. The future of hifi, well that is to be seen. Music has never been more accessible than it is today but was the trade-off of quantity of quality really worth it ?
 

Doc

Active Member
I'm an iPhone and Apple Music user.. and I love it. I have music playing for several hours a day, every day. I can listen to 99% of the music I search for specifically, and have discovered loads of new music I like too.
Plus, I'm loving the new HomePod speaker.
So I'm a very happy Apple Music listener..
 

boyarin

Active Member
I am listening Apple Music cos have a full ecosystem of Apple products in my family. For very reasonable price i have all my music collection since 2001 in one place with Apple family plan
All the process is simple and native, i like it as a big music listening fan and a musician.

All in all i will never return to the era of bying CDs or Vinyl
 

andyrs2000

Active Member
Just a quick question, i have an Amazon prime account, does this include Amazon music or is that extra ?
 

Synchro

Well-known Member
The elephant in the room is YouTube. It's huge, it has most music on it, and it's free. Quality counts for nothing when the cost is £0. Where I work most people listen to music all day and I'd say the split is about 50% YT and 50% Spotify.

I'm not a huge music guy but I do subscribe to Spotify. It's fine for my needs, but I'm exactly a very discerning music listener. Most of the music I listen to is old and is through headphones (Bose QC35). I used to listen to a lot of movie soundtracks too which would probably benefit from higher quality audio, but I do less of that now as to be frank virtually all modern movie soundtracks are garbage.
It can't be downloaded to play offline though, which is a killer feature for most people, who take their music seriously.
 

Doc

Active Member
It can't be downloaded to play offline though, which is a killer feature for most people, who take their music seriously.
It can though. Several websites automate the process, eg. keepvid.com
(And it offers a choice of formats for the download, both video formats and audio formats, if you just want to get the music)
 

StanleyKubrick

Active Member
It can't be downloaded to play offline though, which is a killer feature for most people, who take their music seriously.
Clip Grab is another (it's the one I use)but there are hundreds...and never pay for one, as most of the best ones are FREE shareware.
 

rosscouk

Member
I have tried all the music services, but I am currently with Tidal due to the quality of the streaming. I think if Spotify had offered lossless I would have stayed with them. I now subscribed to Roon also which links in with Tidal. Roon manages all my local content making connections and allowing multi-room management and up-scaling possibilities (it does tons of stuff). It also links to tidal so when you find a new link, which Roon is throwing up all the time, you can bring the album (for example) down from tidal and it looks like its in your collection, its brilliant. Its just a shame that it only links with Tidal and there is not a bit more choice for everyone. But to me, Tidal is great and better with Roon.
 

Synchro

Well-known Member
Plex to play "my" lossless music. Anything else to play other stuff (the cheaper/free the better).
 

Toon Army

Well-known Member
Thanks Ed. It's always interesting to read about the bigger picture. I once had a free 6 month trial for Apple Music. I stopped using it after 2 months for a variety of reasons and continue to use Spotify Premium. Great UI, library, sound quality, use on a variety of devices etc.
 
luckily for me I'm pretty much 'ALL Musiced UP' and don't really have any space left in my brain to take in any 'new' 'must listen' ' Chilean synth, Danish electro or Afghanistani Jazz,' or indeed the time to listen to it, I'm amazed how adult people with jobs and kids do it.

now and again a song that ive never heard of sneaks in or a one I had long forgotten and it gets played in a movie and I think oh that's nice ....but it doesn't happen very often.

I think the difference between film and music is that film tends to be a one off, now and again twice entertainment whereas music you may listen to the same stuff 1000s of times over the years

therefore a movie is something you would likely perceive as an 'Event' worth splashing out on whereas a Song is just one of many 1000s of things and would not hold as much value

I sometimes listen to songs on youtube ...actually mainly to see the video , but all my music must be on my system ..I would never even think of streaming it , ive had free Spotify offers for months of free service and never even bothered installing it or trying it out

just my 2cents
 

mushii

Well-known Member
I guess that is my point, once upon a time, going to buy an LP was ‘an event’ and it did mean something. Now music has been devalued to a certain degree, even though we access and use it more.
Again I guess quality means more to me personally than quantity. It’s why I’d sooner buy 5 or 6 Blu rays a month rather than pay for 200 channels of pap on Sky each month. Each to their own though.
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
I guess that is my point, once upon a time, going to buy an LP was ‘an event’ and it did mean something. Now music has been devalued to a certain degree, even though we access and use it more.
Odd to relate, streaming services have resulted in me buying much, much more music. I can now listen to new artists, in my own time and deep dive their portfolios. When I find things I like, I more often than not seek it out on vinyl (or sometimes lossless or high res). Artists like Wild Beasts, My Baby, Heliocentrics and Public Service Broadcasting to name but a few are all ones I have purchased heavily having first encountered them on streaming services. I freely admit this is not 'normal' (although artists do see upswings in tour ticket sales from streaming) but it's how it works for me.
 

xxGBHxx

Well-known Member
I had a Tidal account for about 12 months but I found almost all of what I listened to wasn't in Master quality anyway. Everything I listen to is on my Amazon Unlimited sub which I started instead of Tidal and it's a lot cheaper too. Can't say I miss Tidal in the slightest.

I'll also be the one to take the flak and put his neck out and say I couldn't tell the difference between the two. I guess I'm getting older and my ears are not as acute as they used to be so I'm sure that's part of it. That said "Best" quality in Amazon Unlimited is no different to whatever the best in Tidal was to me. No I don't listen on any quality equipment at the moment, no I'm not an audiophile and no I really don't notice. Maybe if I strained and did a proper A/B test I might notice the difference but really why bother? If it is different, it's small enough for me not to notice either way.

G
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
I was shocked that Spotify doesn't turn a profit. If/when they do add lossy to Spotify, I'll happily pay 20/month. Would still be great value for money.
 

MartinH32

Well-known Member
My music listening is quite sporadic - I use Spotify (I have a family subscription) in the car, whilst I'm working and general housework. But I also have a reasonable quality AV system and if I find anything of interest on Spotify it normally results in a CD purchase. It's very rare I listen to much new music so music discovery on Spotify is great - it also means I can sometimes get a CD on music magpie for only a couple of quid from something I've discovered! If anything since subscribing to Spotify my CD collection has grown substantially.
I also like having something physical - like a CD, streaming services can go and you don't own the music. Once I've got my CD it's mine, and although I do rip it to lossless it's for convenience.
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
I was shocked that Spotify doesn't turn a profit. If/when they do add lossy to Spotify, I'll happily pay 20/month. Would still be great value for money.
Really? A tenner gets you a 4K Netflix sub - I think 20 quid a month is way over priced.
 

Pecker

Distinguished Member
Excellent article, great discussion.

I'm on Amazon Unlimited and really like it. What I'd like:

1 - The option of better quality. I don't see why this isn't there already. I can't imagine it's a space issue on Amazon's servers. And it'd be easy to structure prices to put off people who didn't really need it. Say mp3 for £10 a month, lossless for £12 or £13 ?

2 - More flexibility to download. Currently it's simply not possible to play my Amazon streamed music on my FiiO X3. Look Amazon, if I wanted to 'steal' this stuff I could. Just let me download everything I can stream for free.

3 - What about abroad? I do a lot of listening when I'm out and about (waking, public transport), but I spend a disproportionately large amount of time listening on the summer holidays. Why not introduce a 'fair usage' policy so I can stream in Spain or Greece?
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
Excellent article, great discussion.

I'm on Amazon Unlimited and really like it. What I'd like:

1 - The option of better quality. I don't see why this isn't there already. I can't imagine it's a space issue on Amazon's servers. And it'd be easy to structure prices to put off people who didn't really need it. Say mp3 for £10 a month, lossless for £12 or £13 ?

2 - More flexibility to download. Currently it's simply not possible to play my Amazon streamed music on my FiiO X3. Look Amazon, if I wanted to 'steal' this stuff I could. Just let me download everything I can stream for free.

3 - What about abroad? I do a lot of listening when I'm out and about (waking, public transport), but I spend a disproportionately large amount of time listening on the summer holidays. Why not introduce a 'fair usage' policy so I can stream in Spain or Greece?
Unfortunately, it is a little more complicated than that. Assuming that FLAC on streaming services will be toward the upper end of compression rates, it still requires double the bandwidth to store and stream than 320kbps MP3. The issue is compounded by the vastness of the catalogue. Whereas Amazon can devote considerable resources into ensuring that The Grand Tour is good to go in the knowledge that it is the most popular thing on their video offering, no such bunching exists with audio which increases the strain on servers. It's perfectly possible they'd take the hit but be under no illusions, it would be a hit.

Unencrypted downloads are never going to happen- sorry. Even if we accept that the effect on piracy would be debateable, record labels would never, ever go for it. There are players capable of handling the Amazon content though- the Pioneer XDP100R is available for buttons these days.

Use abroad is more about telecoms providers than streaming services- I can already do what you want to do because I am a Three customer with 10 gigs a month that I can use under UK T&Cs in multiple countries.
 

xxGBHxx

Well-known Member
Really? A tenner gets you a 4K Netflix sub - I think 20 quid a month is way over priced.
When Netflix gives me access to the vast majority of films and tv released over the last 30 years in anywhere near that volume or quality I would agree. Fact is though the amount of material available at that quality is minute in comparison and you're still paying £10 for the privilege. (and no I'm not saying Netflix isn't worth it I'm just extending your comparison)

The catalogue size difference between *ANY* tv and music based service is VAST. I am not surprised none of them make money as I would suggest that a sub to any of the major streaming services will give most people access to most of the music they ever listen to. The same is no where near true for any of the TV streaming services at any quality or price.

Personally I find it quite staggering how cheap the music streaming services are at any price considering what you get. If I went back 30 or even 20 years and someone told me I could LEGALLY get access to the vast majority of English speaking popular music (not to mention world music, classical music and a lot or esoteric stuff) for £9.99 or extend that to the whole family for £15 I'd have laughed at them for being ridiculous. Yet here we are 20 years later with exactly that.

While I appreciate you might not see value in a £20 sub, calling it "way overpriced" in comparison to Netflix is a little silly.

G
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
When Netflix gives me access to the vast majority of films and tv released over the last 30 years in anywhere near that volume or quality I would agree. Fact is though the amount of material available at that quality is minute in comparison and you're still paying £10 for the privilege. (and no I'm not saying Netflix isn't worth it I'm just extending your comparison)

The catalogue size difference between *ANY* tv and music based service is VAST. I am not surprised none of them make money as I would suggest that a sub to any of the major streaming services will give most people access to most of the music they ever listen to. The same is no where near true for any of the TV streaming services at any quality or price.

Personally I find it quite staggering how cheap the music streaming services are at any price considering what you get. If I went back 30 or even 20 years and someone told me I could LEGALLY get access to the vast majority of English speaking popular music (not to mention world music, classical music and a lot or esoteric stuff) for £9.99 or extend that to the whole family for £15 I'd have laughed at them for being ridiculous. Yet here we are 20 years later with exactly that.

While I appreciate you might not see value in a £20 sub, calling it "way overpriced" in comparison to Netflix is a little silly.

G
The reason why I see it as a rip off as that it is double the premium cost. Premium is what 320Kbps? Raw uncompressed CD is 1.4Mbps (but streaming is probably lossless compressed, so less). A full HD TV service is 5-8Mbps, a 4K TV service is at least 15Mbps. So - so 3x bandwidth adds a few quid a month - which is fine - it doesn't double it.

Hence why I think its a rip off. 13 would have been fine - 20 relative to 10 is a rip off.
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
Really? A tenner gets you a 4K Netflix sub - I think 20 quid a month is way over priced.
Which is very good value for money (though I can't even stream 4k). I do prefer blurays, and will always buy a movie if it's something I really want to watch, but for general viewing and series it's worth it's weight in gold.

I don't see how 20/month is overpriced. For that money I'd have access to thousand of CD quality music for the price of 2 CDs a month (money I'd never notice missing). Staggeringly good value for money if you listen to a few hours of music a day. Some days I have spotify on from 6pm to 1am. I would get my monies worth.
 

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