If you’re wringing the last mileage out of your MP3 player and fancy signing up to an online music service, you’ve never had more choice. With Rdio, Spotify and Deezer now all available in the UK, there are more options than you can shake an iPod-free fist at.
Rdio quietly pitched up in the UK last week from over the pond, and most of us haven’t even noticed. It’s the all-American take on Spotify and lets you listen through the web, desktop or mobile. Free listening’s capped, but £4.99 gets you unlimited music and £9.99 buys you mobile and offline access.
The browser player is an advantage if you’re anywhere that’s strict on software downloads
Discovery is easy. Rdio shows you new album releases and recommendations better than most
The paid-for mobile app is more advanced than rivals, bringing social and recommendation features to your phone, plus offline playlists
It’s still gappy on UK music – there’s no Maccabees ‘Wall of Arms’, for example
Social stuff stops short of sending songs or collaborative playlists – two of Spotify’s most joyous features
For audio nerds, there’s no option to alter sound quality
For you if…
You're pretty savvy and want a decent social music service, but without the faff of downloading special software.
The undisputed king of streaming - but it hasn’t faced many challengers in Europe yet. Free listening hours are capped at 20 per month; thereafter, the paid-for options are the same as Rdio.
Spotify apps from Def Jam, Domino Records and others make it easy to get lost exploring back catalogues and music history
You can send songs to people with little notes. Who said the mixtape was dead?
Low, middling or high quality streaming options are available
Advanced search is for the serious nerd, but means you can browse by label or genre, rather than trawling through loads of results
50% off subscriptions for card-carrying students. Nifty, eh?
Apps aren’t available on mobile yet. Boo
It doesn’t have everything, and new releases don’t always turn up immediately
You can only sign up with Facebook
For you if:
You can't live without sharing music, and will spend hours gobbling pop history on those nifty apps.
Deezer’s been around for yonks, but only crossed the Channel last year. Free listening hours with ads are unlimited, and it follows the same pricing tiers as Rdio and Spotify.
A very simple web player. No faff here, merci.
Life moves at a slow, Gallic pace - ‘Let England Shake’ is still under ‘new music’
Deezer runs on Shockwave Flash, and will crash constantly if you use Google Chrome
The no-frills approach means it’s no fun, and about as far away from the experience of idle record-browsing as you could possibly get
For you if:
You want to get started with an unfussy, accessible player that gives you all the big hits.
Best of the rest
We7: The Capital.fm of streaming, for those who just want to hit play and get on with something else
Last.fm: Builds up a powerful database of your music tastes, but poor listening features mean it’s best used hooked up with a better service
Pandora: US-only, but touted as the best personalised radio service out there, and certainly the biggest at 125 million users
Turntable.fm: Also US-only, Turntable.fm lets you virtually DJ to a room full of friends or strangers. It’s signing label deals, so may be in the UK soon…