I tried Apple Music, Google Play Music, and am now currently working my way through a 3-month free trial of Spotify, and I have to say…these subscription music streaming services just aren’t for me. I think the best of the bunch was Google Play Music, with Apple Music being the worst solely because of the app, but it’s not really so much any of that as it is that I think it’s a bad deal financially for me and a lot of others.
For a family of two or three that doesn’t already have a music collection, I get the perceived value. $15/month for three people to have access to unlimited music is a good deal if at least two of those people normally buy at least an album a month (or spend the equivalent ~$10 on individual tracks). It’s probably also a pretty good deal for a single person to pay $10/month if they usually buy three or more albums in a month.
The major problem to me is that even with a subscription to one of these services, you still might have to buy music somewhere else. Want to listen to Adele’s latest album on Apple Music? Nah, gotta buy that. Want to listen to Taylor Swift’s 1985 on Spotify? Nah, you gotta have Apple Music or buy it. Heck, there was this album by a no-name band (Allstar Weekend) that Amazon Prime Music and Google Play Music have but that Apple Music doesn’t.
So no matter if you’re listening to mainstream stuff or little unknown bands, you’re never guaranteed that your service is going to 100% fulfill your listening needs. So suddenly, you might be paying $10/month for streaming plus an extra $10 to buy an album that’s not on your streaming service. And then, you might not be able to listen to all of that music in the same place if you have something like Spotify, so you’re juggling collections between two apps.
Oh, and if you cancel your subscription service in, say, three years, you’ve paid $360 and have nothing to show for it except memories. And hey, maybe that’s worth it to you. But the thing is, in 2006, I was buying two or three albums a month, and now, I’m buying one album every two or three months. So nine years ago streaming would’ve made sense to me, and now, it doesn’t. So if I had been using a streaming service for the past nine years, I couldn’t even cancel it now or I’d lose all of my music (which, yes, I do still listen to my old catalog – everything from random 90’s country to my amazing 2006 pop-punk bands). People’s music listening habits change, so what you do now might not be what you do next year.
So yeah, I’ll pass on these services. Right now, buying albums I like (sometimes on sale for $0.99, $7.99, or half off sales), then uploading it to Google Play Music so I can stream it anyway is the best option for me.