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Best music streaming services UK 2022

There's no end of options when it comes to the best music streaming services. But which is the best, and how can you save money on your subscription?

man using headphones in front of colourful soundwave

Credit: Prostock-studio (man), Kjpargeter (soundwave), Lifestyle Travel Photo (background) - Shutterstock

Music, podcasts and sometimes even audiobooks too – streaming services can satisfy all of your audio needs in one place. But we wouldn't blame you for thinking that there are too many to choose from.

We've put together a list of the best music streaming apps, including ways to save money and if there's a free version to try.

Sound good? Read on for our top tips.

Save money on Netflix, Disney+ and more with our guide to the best TV and movie streaming sites.

Music streaming services compared

These are the best music streaming services and apps in the UK:

  1. Spotify

    spotify logo

    Spotify is the most popular music streaming service going, with hundreds of millions of users across the world. A fair number of these users are Premium subscribers, but there is a free version too.

    The unpaid tier gives you access to the same huge library of music and podcasts that Premium users get (except for a small number of new releases in their first couple of weeks). But it's not without its limitations.

    Free users can only listen to albums on shuffle and skip just six tracks per hour. This level also serves you with ads between songs, and there's no access to offline listening.

    There are no such problems at the Premium level (£9.99/month), which also offers superior audio quality to the free tier. However, you may not notice the difference unless you have a keen ear or some top-class headphones.

    It's also worth noting that, for various reasons, some major artists have taken their music off Spotify in the past. Most are now back on, but it's something to be wary of.

    Probably the greatest strength of Spotify is just how much it gives you on top of the library of music. The music discovery algorithms and custom-curated playlists are superb, and the end-of-year Spotify Wrapped is arguably worth the subscription alone.

    And if you do choose to pay for Spotify, make sure you use one of our money-saving tips. Whether that's securing a four-month free trial of Premium, or getting a Student membership, there's no reason to pay full price.

    Stream on Spotify »

     

  2. Apple Music

    apple music logo

    • Cheapest paid subscription – £4.99/month
    • Free version – None (but free trials are available)
    • Student discount – £5.99/month.

    First things first: you may be wondering why the Apple Music student discount is more expensive than the cheapest paid subscription.

    The answer is that the cheapest subscription (Voice) doesn't have all the features that a normal Individual subscription (£9.99/month) does. The Student subscription does have the full selection of features, including the ability to access your library offline.

    Apple also doesn't offer a free music streaming service, so you'll have to take advantage of the one-month free trial if you want a flavour before parting with your cash.

    We should also stress that you can still use Apple Music even if you don't have an Apple device. There are Apple Music apps on Android and Windows, although some reviews of the Android app suggest it's not the smoothest experience.

    That said, there's no denying that Apple Music has one of the strongest libraries of songs to enjoy. It's not faced the same issues as Spotify with musicians withdrawing their work, so you'll be hard-pushed to find any major artists that aren't on it.

    As ever, whatever you do, try to get the best bang for your buck. EE customers can get a whopping six months of Apple Music for free, while Apple Music Student users also get free access to Apple TV+.

    Stream on Apple Music »

     

  3. TIDAL

    tidal logo

    • Cheapest paid subscription – £9.99/month
    • Free version – No (but free trials are available)
    • Student discount – Half-price membership.

    If you consider yourself a true music lover, you may want to give TIDAL a go.

    TIDAL's made waves with the audio quality it offers, which experts reckon is the best on the market. The absolute crème de la crème of sound quality is available on its HiFi Plus plan, but even the regular HiFi plan offers a level that exceeds most of the other best music streaming sites.

    Another TIDAL feature we're fond of is what it calls 'Direct Artist Payouts'. Under this scheme, HiFi Plus members will see up to 10% of their subscriptions go straight to the artists they listen to the most. This is in stark contrast to other streaming services, which are often criticised for paying artists a fraction of a penny per stream.

    Of course, the big mark against TIDAL is its cost. It only offers two tiers of membership: HiFi and HiFi Plus, which come in at £9.99/month and £19.99/month respectively. The highest level is undeniably expensive, but it's not totally out of reach...

    Unlike many other audio streaming services, TIDAL doesn't offer a single, dedicated student membership level. Instead, the student discount gets you 50% off whatever tier you sign up to (following a free trial), bringing the cost down to either £4.99/month or £9.99/month. Much more palatable.

    Stream on TIDAL »

     

  4. Amazon Music

    amazon music logo

    Whether it's delivering your groceries, streaming exclusive TV shows and movies or even broadcasting the Premier League, Amazon does everything nowadays. And, among all that, it also offers a music streaming platform with multiple tiers.

    At the base level, there's Amazon Music Free which is – you guessed it – a free music streaming service. This plan is more limited than Spotify's free tier, with Amazon's only giving you access to playlists, podcasts and stations, rather than individual songs or albums. What's more, you'll have to listen to ads between tracks and can't download for offline play.

    Moving up the tiers, Amazon Music Prime is included in a Prime subscription – so you may already be a member without even knowing it. This level removes the ads, enables offline listening and unlocks two million songs for you to enjoy.

    The most expensive level, Amazon Music Unlimited (£9.99/month), includes everything Music Prime has and more. It offers 90 million songs, many of which are in HD or Ultra HD, plus a growing catalogue available in Spatial Audio. Crucially, you don't need a Prime membership to get an Unlimited membership either.

    But don't go paying full price. Students can get a six-month free trial of Amazon Prime Student, which includes Amazon Music Prime and costs just £4.49/month (or £47.49/year) after the intro period is up.

    Students can also get Amazon Music Unlimited at half price too. So that's £4.99/month rather than £9.99/month, with a free 30-day trial as well.

    Stream on Amazon »

     

  5. Deezer

    deezer logo

    • Cheapest paid subscription – £11.99/month
    • Free version – Yes (plus free trials are available)
    • Student discount – £5.99/month.

    Like the other major music streaming platforms, Deezer has a free tier.

    Although Deezer Free technically gives you access to the full library of 90 million songs, on desktop you're stuck with 30-second previews. What's more, like Spotify's free offering, you're lumbered with ads and can only skip tracks a handful of times per hour.

    Start paying for Deezer Premium (£11.99/month) and all of these problems are solved. At this level, you'll also unlock HiFi audio, offline listening and the ability to pick and play any individual track.

    You'll also get 360 Reality Audio, which is essentially surround sound but specifically for music streaming. Other services, including Amazon and TIDAL, also offer this feature. But Deezer was the first, which is possibly a sign of things to come should there be any further leaps forward in audio tech.

    Deezer's paid subscription isn't exactly the cheapest, but don't forget about the student discount. That'll get you all the same functionality for just £5.99/month, plus a one-month free trial to give you a taster.

    Stream on Deezer »

     

  6. SoundCloud

    soundcloud logo

    • Cheapest paid subscription – £5.99/month
    • Free version – Yes (plus free trials are available)
    • Student discount – Half-price SoundCloud Go+.

    If you're into independent artists or any form of dance music, the chances are you've already got a SoundCloud account. But did you know that you can also listen to major, mainstream tracks on the service too?

    SoundCloud has made its name as the platform for user-created content, and the likes of Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and Doja Cat all had SoundCloud pages in their early days. So, the small-time artist you're listening to today could be the stadium filler of tomorrow.

    Most user-created content is accessible on the free version of SoundCloud. However, you will have to endure ads every few tracks, and you won't be able to download anything for offline listening.

    Upgrade to SoundCloud Go (£5.99/month), and you'll say goodbye to ads and hello to saving unlimited tracks for offline listening.

    Go one further, to SoundCloud Go+ (£9.99/month), and you get the full package. The entire catalogue becomes available, including music from a huge selection of major artists. What's more, you unlock high-quality audio and the functionality to mix tracks within partnered DJ apps.

    As a student, there's no discount on SoundCloud Go. But what you can get is a discount on Go+, bringing it down to £4.99/month after a 30-day free trial. This makes it cheaper than SoundCloud Go, with all the features of Go+.

    Stream on SoundCloud »

     

  7. YouTube Music

    YouTube Music logo

    • Cheapest paid subscription – £9.99/month
    • Free version – Yes (plus free trials are available)
    • Student discount – £4.99/month.

    Remember Google Play Music? Well, for those of you that do, welcome to its new incarnation: YouTube Music.

    YouTube Music is not to be confused with YouTube Premium, the subscription that allows you to watch videos offline, ad-free and in the background on mobile. However, a Premium membership will give you paid-level access to Music (but not the other way around).

    At the free level, YouTube Music is much the same as any other streaming service. There's a huge library of artists to enjoy, plus a tonne of playlists both public and personalised. On the desktop version, you can even enjoy music videos for each track. You'll have to put up with ads, but that's the norm for a free music streaming service.

    Upgrade to YouTube Music Premium (£9.99/month and, again, not the same as YouTube Premium) and the ads disappear. Mobile users also get the option to watch music videos alongside each track. Plus, you can listen in the background if you lock your phone or switch to another app.

    In terms of saving money, you have a couple of options. If you're purely interested in music, we'd recommend getting the student discount for YouTube Music Premium. This brings the cost down to £4.99/month after a 30-day free trial.

    But if you're also after the benefits of YouTube Premium, you can get a student plan for £6.99/month (normally £11.99/month). Remember, this includes access to YouTube Music Premium, so it could be worth the extra couple of quid if you're keen on both.

    Stream on YouTube »

     

  8. BBC Sounds

    bbc sounds logo

    • Cheapest paid subscription – N/A
    • Free version – Entire service is free
    • Student discount – N/A.

    Think BBC Sounds is only good for listening to BBC Radio? Think again.

    Now, you certainly can listen to BBC Radio stations on Sounds. This even includes some online exclusives, like Radio 1 Dance. But there's so much more to explore on this free music streaming app, which is also available online.

    BBC Sounds features all of the broadcaster's extensive collection of podcasts, some of which are exclusive to BBC Sounds for their first 28 days. Recently, the service has also opened up to a selection of top podcasts from third parties – so it's not just a BBC-fest on Sounds.

    Among the BBC's own podcasts, you'll find audiobooks too. Ideal if you don't want to stump up for an Audible subscription (or if you've expired all our other tips for free audiobooks).

    The musical offering on Sounds is slightly different from what you'll find on other streaming services.

    Specifically, there's no option to listen to individual tracks or albums. Instead, you'll have to make do with the BBC's custom mixes.

    Some of these have a presenter talking between tracks (like radio, basically), but others are pure music. There's everything from feel-good tunes to focus mixes and sleep sounds, plus a huge selection of dance mixes that are perfect for pre-drinks.

    BBC Sounds may not be able to compete with the paid alternatives on this list. But as a free music streaming service (you don't even need a TV Licence!), with no ads, it's a solid choice.

    Stream on BBC Sounds »

     

Music streaming platforms aren't the only services to let you try before you buy. Check out our list of the best free trials for loads more.

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