streaming music services

Streaming services offer different strengths for music fans

Roseville, Calif.- Put a few music fans in the room and it won’t be long before they begin putting the question on the table; which streaming music service is the best?

To date, it seems there’s no clear path to consensus on the topic. There’s no singular service that accommodates the different listening habits of users. The elusive quest for musical nirvana continues. However, all is not lost.


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From a musical perspective only (pricing aside), here’s a quick look at the strengths of Pandora, Spotify and YouTube Music. We enjoy utilizing all three, but you may find a single service that is a perfect fit for your needs.

Pandora (Discovering New Music)

When it comes to discovering new music that you’ll actually love, Pandora radio slaughters the competition in our opinion.

Masters of the musical genome, it’s a very rare occurrence when Pandora doesn’t deliver something that matches our musical tastes to perfection. We can no longer count the new and old artists we’ve discovered on Pandora radio.

Online music services attempt to deliver music they think you will like based on your listening habits and a variety of other factors. Creating your own artist station and regularly utilizing Pandora’s “Thumb’s Up, Thumbs Down” feature over a period of time has also proven to be exceptional for discovering new tunes and artists.

Competing online radio stations attempt similar approaches, but every one has left us uninspired and disappointed.

When it’s time to expand your horizons with undiscovered gems (both old and new) Pandora is hands down our top pick!

Updated: You can now search and listen to individual songs on demand.

Spotify (Playlists)

While Pandora excels at expanding your music, the drawback is that you can’t add songs to a playlist of your choice for on demand listening.

Spotify kicks some serious butt here. Although lacking some very notable exceptions in their music catalog, there is enough music here for everyone.

Finding and playing songs on demand is about as simple as it gets. Creating extensive playlists is a breeze and great for parties or customizing playlists for specific audiences. You’ll even find plenty of great live musical performances.

On Spotify, you can sort and even share playlists so friends can each add their own tunes. It’s a win, win!

So the next time you find yourself wanting to create and listen to some of your favorite playlists on demand, Spotify faithfully delivers.

What We Don’t Like: Original and beloved recordings that tinkered with too much in the name of “remasters”. Jimmy, The Song Does Not Remain the Same.

Fun Tip: Take some of those great new songs you find on Pandora and add them to a Spotify playlist.

YouTube Music (Large catalog)

YouTube Music delivers what competitors will never come close to matching. The largest catalog by far would be our guess.

In addition to music that comes from the traditional corporate sources and artists, YouTube Music provides access to the endless catalogs of live performances, user-generated content and traditional content that gets intentionally withheld by artists. Update: Over time we have begun seeing more of our favorite music disappear off YouTube. A quick search for Jimi Hendrix yields no albums while and Eagles search offers a limited selection.

Far too often, we can’t locate favorite albums on Spotify and must turn to YouTube to get our musical fix.

Stream your own musical performance with or without videos. There’s simply no peer for breadth of content.

Fun Tip: Create a music video playlist or concert and stream to your TV. The perfect complement to any party.

Epic Failure

One of the most basic requirements for many listeners is sorting and grouping songs on playlists. Google delivers an epic fail here with playlist management that is absolutely horrendous compared to Spotify or even long defunct music players. The ability to sort and group songs by various criteria currently doesn’t exist and is a frequent criticism found in their boards. In our view, this keeps YouTube Music as the subpar offering on this list. (Workaround: We stumbled across this workaround. Open your playlist in the standard YouTube app(bypassing YouTubeMusic) and voila!, sorting options are available.

A Winning Combo

Regardless of the music streaming service choice, music lovers will find plenty to love about any of the major players. If your needs are more specific, each service has its respective strengths and weaknesses.

Consider exploring each service and you just may find yourself gravitating between all three!

No matter how you slice it, music listening has come a long way from boring, mundane, and limiting FM radio stations.

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