The first 3-month free trials of Apple Music will be coming to an end in a few days, and we can expect to see a crop of ‘should you keep paying?’ articles. Many people will be trying to decide whether to pay for Spotify, Apple Music or a rival, but why choose? Paying for more than one is a perfectly acceptable option – I’m going to be paying for three.
Paying for three streaming music services may seem crazy, especially if you’re on a tight budget, but if you can afford $30 per month and love music, it might be the best option.
Apple Music is great at human curation. The ‘For You’ section gets better and better over time and the expertly-crafted playlists continue to surprise and delight me, introducing me to new artists and reintroducing me to great albums I forgot even existed.
What’s more, it works well with my existing music library, with only a few hiccups (even if some people have suffered more), and there’s a lot to be said for the simplicity of only using one music app on your phone. With Apple Music and the iPhone, that’s a real strength – everything in one place.
Spotify, meanwhile, has established itself as the default streaming music platform. If a developer is going to integrate music into their app, it’ll probably require the user to have a Spotify Premium account. If a music blog post includes a companion playlist, it’ll probably be for Spotify.
Spotify is getting better at recommendations, with a much-praised Discover Weekly playlist automatically generated based on your listening history each Monday. Social hooks that allow you to see what friends have been listening to are valuable too.
As for Google Play Music, it’s often overlooked but it has a couple of key strengths. Firstly, it backs up your personal music library without the hiccups many have experienced using Apple Music, making your entire library available everywhere. That’s very useful if you listen to a lot of tracks that aren’t on streaming services.
Secondly, Google Play Music includes access to YouTube Music Key. If you enjoy using YouTube as a music player, getting rid of adds and having access to features like offline playback and background playback on Android could be really useful. It’s worth noting that there’s a rumored revamp of Music Key on the cards. How that will affect Google Play Music subscribers remains to be seen.
So, why only pay for one streaming service? Ignoring that idea means you place the value of music streaming services solely on the almost identical music libraries available on most services. For me, the value-adds are just as important – and I can’t choose between the so I’ll probably pay for all three when my Apple Music trial ends.
Will I do it forever? Not necessarily – if I need to rein in my spending I’ll happily cut back, but the message is simple: if you value something, it’s okay to pay a bit extra for it.
Anyone with enough cash and the right licensing deals could launch a streaming service with a library like Spotify or Apple Music. It’s what they add to the mix that makes them stand out, and paying for them doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game if you really love and value music.
A version of this article appeared in the TNW Weekly newsletter. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Friday.