Pay attention music fans! When it comes to streaming your favourite tunes, we are spoilt for choice with music streaming services in the UK. Whether you’re into chart-topping pop music, rhythmic funk and soul, alternative rock, or noughties throwback tracks, choosing the right platform can make a whole lot of difference to your listening (and dancing) experience.
There’s a whole list of leading contenders in the realm of music streaming, from Spotify and Apple Music to Tidal and Deezer - it can be challenging to pick the one that suits you best.
But fear not! The team at RadioTimes.com have gathered together some of the top music streaming services available in 2023 and put together a handy guide to help you choose the best one for you and your listening needs.
We’ve looked into the features, pros, cons and pricing plans for each service to bring you all the nitty gritty details you need to know, and also included some top tips on how to choose from the ones dominating the market, from checking audio quality to ensuring device compatibility.
So, what are you waiting for? Read on for the full low-down and get listening to your favourite tunes.
Best UK music streaming service to try at a glance:
These are the major UK music streaming services available at the moment:
How to choose the best music streaming service for you
Before signing up to a music streaming service, there are several things to consider to help you choose which is best for you. We've covered some of them below.
To start with, think about its purpose and what you need from it. Are you looking for top-quality audio for a fully immersive listening experience? A vast selection of content, including music, videos and podcasts? The option to download tracks to listen offline when you don’t have WiFi or data? All streaming services may seem very similar - and they mostly are - but when looking into exactly what they offer, you will notice their slight differences, whether it be content, features or capabilities.
Check out the features included in a music streaming service. Do they provide curated playlists, options to discover new tracks and ways to personalise your account? And do they have a large enough content catalogue, with the artists and genres of music you like available?
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In terms of audio quality, it’s important to look at any special technology a streaming service includes to enhance the overall listening sound, and also make sure you check the service is compatible with your various devices. Look for features including lossless audio, Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, and tracks in HD and Ultra HD to bring you a fully immersive high-quality listening experience. You may have to upgrade to a premium package for this.
Podcasts vs music: what do you want to listen to?
Are you using your streaming service for music, podcasts, or both? Some platforms offer the whole package, but others require another separate subscription for podcasts. It's important to consider the catalogue of content each platform offers - for example big hitter Spotify has over 100 million tracks, five million podcasts and 350,00 audiobooks. Figure out what you will be using the service for as a starting point.
What is free and what is a paid-for extra?
And don’t forget to take your budget into account. How much cash are you willing to splash each month on a subscription? Most streaming services offer a selection of different plans, which have varying prices. Some services provide a free basic subscription to help save your pennies, and some have duo or family packages with discounted prices. There are often also student subscriptions for those eligible.
Most music streaming services offer a free trial so you can try it out before locking in the monthly payments. This is a great way to test out which one works best for you.
Best UK music streaming service to try in 2023
The music giant
- A vast library of music, podcasts, and audiobooks
- Different subscription tiers, including a free plan and a family plan
- Intuitive curated playlists, personalised to you
- Options to discover new music
- Available to stream across many devices
- Offline listening with offline downloads
- High-quality audio with Premium
- Adverts and limited skips on the Free plan
- The premium plan can be considered expensive
- No lossless audio
Since its launch in 2008, Spotify has kept music fans on the pulse with its content and today is considered the biggest music streaming service in the world. It has more than 551 million users (and counting) and its library overflows with more than 100 million tracks, five million podcasts, and 350,00 audiobooks for listeners to tune into.
There’s no wonder why it’s the most popular source for music - Spotify is easy to use on most devices such as your smartphone, laptop and tablet, and will provide you with the ultimate soundtrack wherever you are, whether at home or on the go. You can use it as a web player or in-app, and blast tunes through your speakers, TVs, smartwatches and even cars.
It offers several different streaming plans, from a free basic subscription to a premium or family one. For the entry-level subscription, you pay zero pounds. The drawback? The audio quality isn’t quite up to scratch and you’ll be annoyingly interrupted with adverts every three songs. You also only have the option to skip six times in one hour, but can you turn your nose up to saving your cash?
Alternatively, for a better listening experience and for £10.99 per month, Spotify Premium has got music fans and podcast enthusiasts covered. Premium users can listen ad-free, with unlimited skipping, plus have the ability to download music to their own library. They can also view lyrics to sing along to their favourite tunes.
Premium’s unique features include Discover Weekly which updates every Monday with new tracks recommended for you and your music taste, and Spotify Mixes, creating playlists based on the artists, genres and the era of music you regularly listen to. There’s also the all-new Spotify DJ, an AI-driven assistant that launched in the UK earlier this year, which will act as your personal DJ. It recognises your listening habits and recommends new tracks and artists, as well as your-old school favourites, based on them. And at the end of each year, Spotify Wrapped will round up your most-played songs, artists and playlists so you can compare them with all your friends.
You can sign up for Spotify Premium’s Individual Plan, or there are several other options starring Premium’s features. Spotify Family comes in at £17.99 per month, which means the whole gang can listen to their favourite tunes as it covers up to six premium accounts under one subscription. Parents can also block explicit content from kids, which is useful. For £5.99 per month, you can get a Student subscription subject to eligibility, or for £14.99 there’s Spotify Duo, offering music for two under the same roof.
3-D quality audio
- Extensive music library
- One month free trial
- High-quality audio, with lossless and spatial audio
- Easy access for Apple users and compatibility with other devices
- Curated playlists and access to live radio stations 24/7
- Variety of plans, including a student and family one
- Option dedicated to classical music
- Podcasts in a separate app
- No free subscription tier
- Pricing can be considered expensive
Apple Music takes another top spot when it comes to streaming music. Since 2015, it has been providing users with ad-free, high-quality music at their fingertips, and now boasts more than 100 million songs and over 30,000 playlists to browse through and tune into.
You can listen to every chart-topper, oldie track and quirky tune on all your Apple devices, from your iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch to your Apple TV 4K, Mac or HomePod speakers. It’s also available online at music.apple.com or on Android and Windows devices, smart TVs, Amazon Echo and more.
Apple Music starts at £4.99 per month with its basic Music Voice plan, which uses Siri when you’re connected to WiFi to play your favourite hits. Request the songs, playlists, albums and artists you love simply by asking Siri. After Music Voice, upgrade to one of the following options for a whole host of added features and benefits: there’s Individual Spotify for £10.99 per month, Family Spotify for £16.99 per month, or a Student subscription coming in at £5.99 per month. Family Spotify provides unlimited access for up to six people on the account, with personalised recommendations for each. You can also sign up to Apple One for a bundle subscription with up to five Apple services including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+ and more.
With these Apple Music plans, you can expect a high-quality listening experience thanks to its lossless audio which preserves the resolution of songs, as well as Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, an audio technology that brings three-dimensional sound all around you for the ultimate music immersion. They also come with the companion app Apple Music Classical, offering an entire library dedicated to classical numbers including tracks from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Johannes Brahms and Emanuel Bach. This classical music service comes at no extra cost for Apple Music subscribers.
Every track on Apple Music can be downloaded to play offline, and most show off one of Apple’s newest features Apple Music Sing - the option to play a song and see its lyrics in real-time for all the hard-hitting karaoke fans. As well as curated playlists personalised to your music taste, you can also tune into live radio, including Apple Music Hits and Apple Music Country to keep you on your toes with new discoveries.
Thanks to its iCloud Music Library, you can download and play tunes from Apple Music, across all your devices when logged in with the same Apple ID. You can also get up to six months free of Apple Music when you purchase an eligible Apple audio device.
Alexa, play As It Was by Harry Styles
- Multiple plans and options, including a free tier and family and student options
- Easy for Prime users
- Three month free trial
- High-quality audio with HD, Ultra HD, Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio
- Compatible across most devices
- Alexa integration
- Audiobooks in separate service
- The free plan has drawbacks including ads
- Additional costs to plans
Amazon Music has been kicking around since 2007, with several plans and options to sign up to for on-the-beat, on-demand music wherever you go.
Let’s start with Amazon Music - the basic subscription service which costs absolutely nothing (you heard it right, that’s a music service for free). Amazon Music Free provides access to a whole range of songs, playlists, and podcasts based on your likes, available on Android and iOS devices. However, you can only play these in shuffle mode, so there’s no skipping to your favourite tune.
Next up is Amazon Music Prime - this is included with Amazon Prime at no extra cost, providing Prime members with uninterrupted, ad-free listening. Users can choose between podcasts and music, with an impressive catalogue of 100 million songs, and download them to listen offline if desired. Amazon Music Prime can be streamed on all Amazon Music-supported devices.
And finally, saving the best for last, is Amazon Music Unlimited - the top-notch premium option. No Prime membership is needed for this service and an Individual plan comes in at £8.99 per month. You can also sign up for a Family plan for £16.99 per month, which is great value for the whole gang, allowing you to stream on up to six devices at once. There’s also a Student plan for a discounted £5.99, subject to being enrolled at an accredited college or university.
Amazon Music Unlimited spoils users with a vast catalogue of content, from hot-in-the-news up-and-coming tracks to personalised playlists, all with unlimited skips and with the ability to listen offline. Millions of tracks are in HD and Ultra HD with lossless audio and also come in Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio for a super high-quality listening experience, with three-dimensional sound like never before.
All music can be played through the Amazon Music app, or on iOS and Android devices, as well as Fire TV, smart TVs and speakers, and hands-free with Alexa. Amazon Music plans do have access to podcasts, but they have a separate streaming service called Audible for audiobooks.
For superbly high-quality sound
- High-fidelity sound
- HD video quality
- Artist ownership and support
- Personalised curations
- Live sessions
- Higher price points
- No free subscription
- No podcasts
A global music streaming service which launched in 2014, Tidal brings music fans and artists closer together with its forward-thinking and inclusive platform. The company is partly artist-owned with today’s artist owners including Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin and Jay-Z, and is the first streaming service with high-fidelity sound and high-definition video quality.
Tidal has two main subscription plans: HiFi and HiFi Plus. Both provide access to more than 100 million songs and 650 thousand videos. It’s all ad-free, with unlimited skips and you can download content to play offline. The big difference between plans is the sound quality, and therefore the price to reflect it - HiFi provides high sound quality and costs £9.99 per month, while HiFi Plus tops it with maximum sound quality, coming in at £19.99. The streaming service also offers a Family plan for £16.99 per month - that’s up to six accounts under one account and with child-friendly, clean content available.
Tidal can be used on all devices, whether your laptop, tablet, smart TV or phone (Android and iOS) and has several stand-out features worth noting. It has personalised curations of songs and videos for a unique experience, and features Artist Radio to discover new music so you’re always on the pulse. It uses lossless audio, Dolby Atmos Music and Sony 360 Reality Audio across its content for immersive listening with unlimited streaming wherever you are.
A more recent addition, Tidal Credits, has been brought into the platform to shine a light on the unsung heroes behind every track. Everyone involved is credited, from the songwriters and producers to the sound engineers and backing singers and more. There’s also a LIVE option on Tidal, to join live sessions from your favourite DJs, celebrities and musicians. And time-synced lyrics on the screen means you can have your very own karaoke nights.
Your soundtrack, your way
- Vast music and podcast library with radio channels
- Free tier availability as well as family and student plans
- Premium audio quality with high-fidelity sound
- Offline listening available
- Personalised experience
- Streaming is compatible across all devices
- Pricey subscription costs
- The free plan includes adverts
Launched in 2007 and originally only available in France, Deezer quickly became a worldwide streaming service to offer more than 90 million songs, playlists, podcasts and radio channels to avid music fans.
Start by trying Free Deezer - that’s right, it’s totally free with no payment required. This plan offers access to a huge amount of audio content, but the catch? There are ads. Upgrade to a Premium subscription for £11.99 per month and enjoy uninterrupted music, available to stream across all devices and you can also download your library and listen offline. Students can get 50 per cent off Premium, for £5.99 per month to keep in line with their budgeting, and families can opt for a Family plan, at £17.99 per month. This includes all the premium benefits across six individual accounts, and the ability to listen simultaneously on different devices.
Simply download the Deezer app onto your smartphone, tablet or desktop and get stuck in with all its benefits. All paying subscribers will experience high-fidelity sound and lossless audio, making it feel as if you’re in the recording studio. Check out the feature Flow, which uses AI to serve up a mix of your favourite songs as well as new tracks based on your mood, whether that’s ‘chill’, ‘party’, or ‘focus’. Use SongCatcher to identify surrounding music or ones you’ve got stuck in your head - either by humming, whistling or singing, and adding it to your favourites. There’s also a games section to play music quizzes and the option to sing along with lyrics on your screen.
Elevate your music experience
- Hi-Res audio
- Diverse and large music library
- Curated playlists
- Extra features including magazine and reviews
- Discounted purchases with a Sublime subscription
- Selection of plans including Family
- Higher costs for subscriptions
- Smaller user base
Launched in France in 2007, Qobuz only made it over to the UK in 2013 but has been moving up in the music-streaming world ever since. Featuring 100 million tracks, from top new hits to old-school favourites to more niche genres, the content is available to stream and download.
Its USP? Qobuz uses Hi-Res, CD-quality streaming for the ultimate authentic listening experience. It is compatible with Windows, iOS and Android devices and has numerous stand-out features to keep music fans constantly discovering new tracks. For example every Friday, MyWeekly Q shares curated playlists and suggested tracks tailored to your listening habits. Each week it also published interactive articles, exclusive content and playlists to expand your music knowledge.
The plans? Choose between Qobuz Studio (£12.99 per month, or £10.83 per month if you sign up for a year’s subscription) and Qobuz Sublime (£17.99 per month, or £15 per month on an annual subscription). Both offer studio-quality streaming on the vast selection of tracks, with the option to listen in offline mode if not connected to the internet. For slightly more each month, Sublime membership further supplies access to the entire catalogue of Hi-Res and CD-quality albums, all available to stream and download, and purchase exclusively for up to 60 per cent off.
For up to six accounts under one subscription, there’s also a Family membership coming in at £17.99 per month, where each account can create their own playlists and curated favourites. And there’s also a Duo subscription option, for two accounts at £14.99 per month.
Qobuz is not just a music streaming and downloading platform, but also has Qobuz magazine to spotlight emerging artists, comment on new releases and provide Hi-Fi product reviews.
If you’re looking for top-quality devices to play your music through, check out our useful guides to the best smart speakers and the best DAB radios. And if you’re looking for a TV-watching platform, don’t miss our guide on the best UK streaming services.