Music streaming services used to be largely defined by their song libraries. For example, Taylor Swift might have been on Apple Music but not on Spotify, and Tidal was originally weighted toward hip hop. Nowadays, these services have similar catalogs, offering millions of songs and playlists, and they generally all release new albums at the same time. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding your favorite artist on any of them.
What separates them today are the quality of music discovery—whether it’s based on algorithms or human curation—the user experience on desktop and mobile apps, what devices you can use them with, and their sound quality. Most of them have free tiers, but the experience improves if you subscribe and pay a monthly fee. We put ’em all to the test, and these are our favorites. Be sure to check out our many other buying guides, including the Best Wireless Headphones, Best Wirefree Earbuds, and Best Cheap Headphones.
Updated July 2021: We reordered our picks with new features, and we also added slides explaining lossless audio format and how to figure out your needs.
Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.
If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED