The catch is that you'll have to listen to ads, similar to the way free versions of Spotify and Pandora P work. Just like Spotify and Pandora, Google Play Music lets people stream preset compilations that Google thinks you would want to listen to during certain activities. Launching a free version of Google Play Music comes as no surprise. Streaming media companies have struggled to find enough people willing to pay monthly subscriptions, and have increasingly turned back to selling ads to buoy their businesses. For example, Spotify recently started letting people listen to music ad-free for 30 minutes in exchange for showing them a video ad. It sounds like a strange mix, but video ads make more money than other types of advertising on the Internet. Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated what users could access with Google's free service and misidentified Rhapsody as having a free version. Related: Apple Music isn't revolutionary, but here's why it could still succeed. Read: Pandora faces growing threats from Apple and Spotify.
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A dozen years ago, there were several different ways to get new music, each about as popular as the next. You could keep buying individual CDs, sign up for a CD delivery service, buy tracks one at a time through iTunes, or download huge chunks of music through user-friendly services like Napster — sites that were so easy to use it barely felt like you were doing anything wrong. They all seemed like perfectly acceptable methods; it was simply a matter of which style you preferred. Fast-forward to , however, and most people are listening the same way: through streaming music services. Yes, illegal music-downloading is still rampant, but as far as legal music-listening goes, streaming services are the new fad. Even Apple—whose pay-per-song iTunes once seemed like the future—has doubled-down on iTunes Radio, its music-streaming Pandora competitor. So just how widespread is the trend? If you like, you can distinguish between on-demand services like Spotify that let you pick each song, and radio services like Pandora that choose songs for you, but the overall concept is similar: unlimited music for a low monthly fee.
Music streaming has grown up tremendously since its inception and is now among the best ways to listen to music. Many streaming services let you listen for free, which has helped curb the need for piracy while artists still get at least a little bit for their work. Apple Music exploded onto the scene in late to mixed reviews. However, it has quickly become one of the best music streaming apps out there. It has a variety of monthly plans, including individual plans, a cheaper student plan, and a family plan that supports up to six family members. Deezer has its ups and downs. It offers the usual array of features, including playlists, stations, recommendations, and Flow, a personal soundtrack feature. It also boasts 43 million songs in more countries than many competitors. That gives Tidal some competition in the Hi-Fi streaming space. Those not looking for a Hi-Fi experience have better options for casual listening, though.
Best free music apps: Welcome to What Hi-Fi? Portable music used to mean carrying around a single album on CD or cassette. Now you can now walk around with millions of songs in your pocket without worrying about storage space at all. And the best bit? You don't even need to pay. Most major music streaming services have a free tier, barring Tidal , Qobuz and Apple Music.