Australia’s digital music market is continuously growing with more services added and developing at an exciting pace and today we saw a big new player enter the Australian market, Google Music. While not being a music streaming service like most here in Australia it still offers quite a good alternative if you’re into discovering unsigned artists and like having your own music in the cloud. So how does it stack up against the rest?
What Google Music offers
Google music is essentially your iTunes alternative, especially if you’re an Android user. It doesn’t quite offer the same size catalogue that iTunes does as of yet, but it includes your very own cloud music locker which can store 20,000 of your favourite tunes for you to download or stream on your computer or Android device. It also is great for independent artists, allowing them to upload their own songs to the service. At this stage Google Music doesn’t have a streaming service but there have been loads of rumours that this is coming soon.
Apple’s iTunes has long been the king of digital music, having the most users and the most tracks available. iTunes match is their cloud offering which for $34.99 allows users to have their tracks in iTunes “matched” with songs from the iTunes store in the cloud which you can then stream across all your iDevices or Windows computer.
Spotify is the big daddy in the streaming world featuring over 20 million tracks and apps for all major mobile devices. Its desktop interface is very iTunes reminiscent so if you’re new to these services coming from iTunes this could be your safest bet. Spotify is free to use on your desktop with ads or $11.99 a month for premium which takes away the ads and allows mobile support.
Deezer is quite similar to Spotify, offering a similar amount of songs but with a more social aspect, connecting you to your Facebook and a strong encouragement to share all the tunes you’re listening to. It comes with a 15 day free premium trial and from then on is $6.99 for premium desktop use or $11.99 for desktop and mobile use. Deezer is great for those social butterflies who like to share everything they’re doing.
Sony Music Unlimited
Sony’s Music Unlimited is Sony’s own on demand music streaming service, launched in 2010 it is available for both iOS and Android as well as Sony’s Blu-Ray players, internet TV’s, PS3 and PSVita. It doesn’t quite boast the library as others do but it works really well if you are into Sony’s ecosystem. Like most of the others it has a free trial but after that it will set you back $12.99 a month.
Pandora is a bit different to all of the other services as it’s more of a radio than a streaming service. Pandora is very much more like a normal radio station, you listen by picking stations based on charts, genre or you can pick an artist and have a station based on them. It’s a really cool way to discover music and I see that as its best feature. Pandora is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, BlackBerry and their web interface. Pandora is free to use or you can pay $3.99 a month to get no ads and 192kbps streams.
Xbox Music, or previously known as Zune, is Microsoft’s dig at the digital music world and is the service that I personally use. Xbox Music has the second largest library of music, only second to iTunes, it has a beautiful interface and is so well integrated across the Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox devices. It’s best examplified in Windows Phone where for $11.99 a month you can have all the music you need either streamed or downloaded into the devices native player, and if there is an artist Xbox Music doesn’t have you can always import the song from your personal library into the Music app allowing you to listen to everything without having to swap between apps. It is currently only available on Windows, Xbox and Windows Phone but there have been rumours for a possible iOS and Android app to come.
MOG is Telstra’s music streaming service which holds a respectable 16 million tracks, a fairly nice app for both Android and iOS (No Windows Phone) and doesn’t count towards your data if you’re a Telstra mobile or Bigpond internet customer which makes it almost a no brainer to use this as your if you are Telstra mobile customer and like to stream your music.
JB Hi-Fi Now
JB Hi-Fi has been known to stock loads of CD’s for you to buy so it comes as no surprise that they have decided to get involved with the digital music market, JB Hi-Fi now. Working much the same as the others, it has an iOS app, Android app and a web app. In terms of charges, Now will cost $25 for a three month subscription, $50 for six months or $80 for a full year.
Rdio is quite similar to Spotify, and has a similar library but includes a few more off-centre genres of music. It has one of the cleanest and easiest to use interfaces and comes both in a freemium model and a premium model of pricing. To get premium access it’ll set you back $12.90 a month, after your free trial of course. It’s available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry and has its own stand-alone apps for Windows and OSX.
Nokia Music is quite similar to Pandora in the way that it is more like a radio station than a streaming service. It’s available only on Nokia devices and Windows 8, the service will set you back $4.99 a month for premium.
There’s a few others out there, but they don’t have the support or libraries like the big ones above do. If any more come to our shores or evolve I’ll make sure to add them to this and keep it up-to-date.