Top 5 alternatives for Google Play Music

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Google Play Music will be off the stores in the coming months. While YouTube Music is available as a replacement, it is not exactly a favourite for many users including me. The video-centric website has become the go-to place for people who want to listen to music casually.

YouTube has everything. Even music that is not uploaded on other music sites is often found here. But it’s natural for people to look for something cheaper or for features that they want on a streaming app. So if you are looking for alternatives, and are not a fan of YouTube Music, here are some apps that you can use.

Apple Music

Apple Music is native to iOS, while the Android port is fairly recent. As such, there are still bugs present throughout the Android version of the app. While it has its fair share of shortcomings, as a direct replacement to Google Play, the Apple Music is the best alternative.

Another feature is the ability to upload up to 100,000 personal music. Sharing music is also streamlined for Mac users, making it easier to gain active listeners.

It is priced at $9.99/month and has a library size of 50 million and more. The streaming quality is 256kbps AAC.

In terms of the interface, Apple Music feels the closest to Google Music in terms of layout and design — but it still has some quite notable Apple design principles. It’s relatively clean but doesn’t run quite as well on Android as it does iOS — probably for obvious reasons.

Cons

  1. There is no free plan available on the app. While there is a 3-month free trial that lets you test out the app, there is no free version with ads available.
  2. No crossfade or gapless playback that can be useful during parties.
  3. It’s a heavy app and keeps getting heavier with each update. For someone who just wants to listen and organize music, it’s unnecessarily heavy.

Spotify

Personally, Spotify is one of my top choices. It is the world’s biggest dedicated music streaming platform. Spotify has one of the biggest libraries, the most active communities, and really neat playlist features that make it so popular with millions across the globe.

A playlist is generated every week custom made just for you, based on your picks. The algorithm used to do this makes it stand out among its competitors.

Spotify has a large number of content available, ranging from songs to podcasts and on-demand content.

It is priced at $9.99/month and again has library consisting of 50 million plus tracks. The streaming quality is up to 320kbps in Ogg Vorbis.

Cons

  1. Commercials can get annoying in the free version of the app, so if you want to avoid that, buy a premium or switch to a different app.
  2. Some independent artists are hard to find with Spotify. Some songs are also unavailable even if it comes from major record labels.

SoundCloud

If independent artists are Spotify’s main problem, then SoundCloud is the direct opposite. This music streaming app is known to be the hub for upcoming artists. It is easy to upload music through the app, and listening to new songs is easy as well.

There are different plans of SoundCloud. The SoundCloud Go is priced at $4.99/month for Android/Web and $5.99 for iOS while the SoundCloud Go+ is at $9.99/month for Android and $12.99/month for iOS.

The streaming quality is 256kbps AAC.

Video editors and multimedia artists may also use SoundCloud as their source for background music and sound effects, as a lot of music creators offer their music free for commercial use. Some require a small fee, though.

Cons

  1. The interface is full of bugs. Issues related to notifications, uploading sounds, and favorites have been reported on their site.
  2. Some SoundCloud tracks include audio ads, particularly sponsored podcasts. The tracks are available as they are uploaded and SoundCloud does not add these.
  3. Can’t do an advanced search on this.

Tidal

Founded by Jay-Z and friends, Tidal offers the supposed highest fidelity for those that value their listening experience. The streaming platform was also built upon the principle that artists are better compensated than on competing services.

Hi-Fi streaming is a rare feature for music streaming apps. Google Play Music came close, as it converts uploaded music to 320kbps MP3 format. However, it cannot compete with Tidal’s Hi-Fi streaming.

It’s priced at $9.99/month for the premium and $19.99 for Hi-Fi. Tidal offers music streaming at 16-bit, 44.1kHZ FLAC format, or 24-bit, 96KHz MQA. This might not matter to casual listeners, but audiophiles will love this feature.

It has over 60 million plus tracks in its library. It also offers students a 50% discount on the monthly plans.

Cons

  1. It may take upto 10 secs to load a song. Sometimes songs even stop midway to buffer which can ruin the listening experience.
  2. Unlike its competitors, it does not have any free plan available and the free trial is just for 7 days. This does not give the users ample time to judge the app.
  3. Offline isn’t offline and mobile data is consumed in one song

Pandora

Only officially available in the United States — unless you’re happy to use a VPN — Pandora is a solid Google Play Music alternative. It provides the most personalized radio experience.

It is priced at $9.99/month and the tracks stream at 192 kbps in AAC on low, MP3 on high quality. The library size is over 30 million.

It does have a free tier and a paid tier.

Unlike other music streaming services, Pandora allows you to create a station from a single song, artist, album, or genre. It lets you mix and match an unlimited number of input criteria to create a station for any mood/style/occasion.

Cons

  1. It provides limited skips. You are only granted 6 skips per station per hour. This might get frustrating.
  2. The categories are less organized compared to the other apps.
  3. It’s not available outside US, which limits users from around the globe.
  4. The bitrate is limited. Most songs played on Pandora Radio are 128 kbps bitrate. That being said, the paid version of the service offers songs with a bitrate of 192 kbps.

Final Thoughts

You can replace the specs and features but not the emotions attached to an app and hence these act as mere alternatives to Google Play Music. From my first favourite song to sharing my playlist for the first time with my loved ones, all of it happened on Google Play Music and i would be lying if i say i would not miss it.

Other than these 5, apps like Deezer Music, Last.fm, Amazon Music, etc can also be used as an alternative for Google Play Music.