Music streaming in the test: That’s why Apple Music is not among the winners

Music streaming in the test: That’s why Apple Music is not among the winners

With his streaming service Apple Music he wants iPhone makers make up for lost ground in the music business. But there are other Spotify competitors - we listened to Deezer, Tidal, Google Play and Amazon Music. Which service in the end in our test has the edge, reveals this post. So much anticipation: Apple Music is not.

The consumption and distribution of music has experienced nothing short of a revolution in recent times. Whereas vinyl records and tapes have dictated the reproduction and playback of music for decades, the reign of the audio CD has already been much shorter - and even the download of albums and individual titles in the iTunes Store almost feels like an anachronism today.

Streaming is in full swing

The present and future of the music business is undoubtedly streaming - a trend that has long since gained a foothold in Germany: 44 percent of German Internet users aged 14 and over use it loudly a survey commissioned by "Digitalverband Bitkom" music streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music. After all, around a quarter of streamers pay for these music offers as part of a monthly subscription.

Better ...

Quobuz is aimed at connoisseurs and offers its catalog of almost 70,000 albums in the finest 24-bit resolution.

... or cheaper?

If you do not pay, you can use Spotify in a free version, but you have to do without the offline feature and live with advertising.

Meanwhile, this is also worthwhile for the industry. The consulting firm Pricewaterhouse Cooper, for example, estimates total sales of music streaming for all providers in Germany in 2017 at 311 million euros. By 2019, sales are expected to rise to 426 million euros. From the feared "gravediggers of the music industry" has long since become a savior.

Even Apple mixes in the lucrative market - not without success: With almost 21 percent market share, the iTunes inventor was now firmly on the second Place behind the market leader Spotify, which, however, is almost unassailable at almost 43 percent.

That's how we tested

We used two high-quality headphones to play the music streaming services: In addition to a warm-sounding hi-fi device for the living room, we also tested our predefined playlist with a studio headphone, which is known for not much "whitewashing". We chose the highest quality of service offered by the services to take full advantage of the broadband Internet connection.

Differences at a Glance

Although the large streaming providers are at first glance similar in their offer. Nevertheless, there are some significant differences with regard to the operation, the choice of music, the quality of reproduction and also the additional offer. Noble Chanteuse Beyoncé, for example, only released on Tidal, which - not coincidentally - belongs to her husband Jay-Z. Sport fans, on the other hand, can find their mecca on Amazon: their Music Unlimited package includes - most unusual - the games of the Bundesliga.

We hope to make your selection of the right service a little easier.

You should pay attention to this

Family Subscription: With a family subscription, you save a lot of money even if you want to provide your entire flat with a music subscription - as a rule the providers do not check whether the participants are actually a family member and like to turn a blind eye.

Listen Offline Music: Sure, all streaming providers have a feature to listen to music without an active internet connection , However, they differ in the number of supported devices - Apple Music allows for temporary download on up to ten devices, Spotify allows only three of them.

Sound quality: Place value especially at home on a high quality of reproduction? In that case, suppliers who only provide lossy streaming formats will hardly be considered for you. But even when listening to music in the subway there are differences - so some providers stream only 256 instead of 320 kbps.

Devices: On the way you stream mostly with the iPhone. But what do you want to use at home? Do you own Apple TV? Do you value a Chromecast inclusion? Or do you use the Sonos system? Select the service that supports your device!

Monthly Costs

Amazon Music Unlimited: 9,99 Euro
Apple Music: 9,99 Euro
Deezer: 9,99 Euro
Google Play Music: 9,99 Euro
Spotify: 9,99 Euro
Tidal: 9,99 Euro (HiFi Premium: 19,99 Euro)

Music Library: The music catalog of most providers now has an average of about 40 million titles. But not all services have the same artists in the program. If you value your favorite bands, you should first check with a trial subscription whether they are also in the library of the favored streaming service.

Curated playlists: Carefully maintained playlists automatically generated using clever algorithms help discovering new music based on your previous musical taste. Unfortunately, not every provider acts unerringly on this point.

Test 1: Library

The selection is huge: 40 million songs are currently on average in their music catalogs, Tidal even advertises 46 million titles. Shipping Amazon confused with a two-pronged offer: While the Prime Music subscription includes only two million titles, advertises the bookable Unlimited offer with 40 million pieces. Despite the music offering, which is almost identical in all cases, a close look is worthwhile, because not all artists support all streaming providers. Beyoncé, for example, only distributes digitally at Tidal. And may it be more than just music? Deezer and Spotify thrive on an extensive catalog of audiobooks and games, and entice them with a curated selection of podcasts to fully replace other music apps.

Test 2: Discovering the New

Spotify notices the experience: The selection Playlists are huge and the Algorithm for New Suggestions brings together extremely interesting playlists derived from previous music consumption. Add to that the often underrated radio feature that summarizes artist and genre streams, and the social aspect neglected by all other services: users of the desktop app can be inspired by the current musical tastes of their friends. But also Google knows to score: After the purchase of Songza shines the Play Music offer with, for example, on the mood, the location and the weather based playlists. Deezer's "Flow" function also serves well and functions like an endless playlist, which in addition to well-known new songs can be discovered.

Test 3: Curation

Algorithms for compiling playlists based on the playback history are a fine thing - but the curation by hand by a knowledgeable team creates a very different price-performance ratio. Tidal relies on famous artists like Britney Spears and DJs like Ferry Corsten who share their musical preferences. Apple, on the other hand, employs a full team of experts who feed the various genres. And that obviously makes his work very good: If you follow a playlist for weeks, you will find many favorite tracks again - plus some pearls that fit the music style. For Spotify, however, speaks the vast distribution: So there are many radio stations, music magazines and even companies that entertain their customers with employee-created playlists.

Test 4: Price-Performance [Deezer"/>Deezer (Picture: screenshot)

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