I TRIED FOUR OF THE PAID MUSIC STREAMING SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES
T – Mobile gave me Pandora Plus for free for a year or so 1 or 2 years back. It sucked! You got half an hour of ad-free music of your choice at a time which means you’d get 30 minutes into something an then an ad would not only interrupt your listening experience but it would cycle from ad to algorithm-mix music so you’d have to go back to the search section and pull what you were listening to back up over time fostering so much resent for Pandora that it was inconceivable to me to even consider paying for the “Premium” version for 10 bucks or something a month so I could actually pick what I want to listen to without ads ripping the browser from my content through them.
Tidal was 10 bucks a month for the normal pay service and I loved that it had the discography organized well, the app looks and feels great, the sound quality is good, they have exclusive content from great artists like Jay Z and Prince. What SUCKED is that every so often (multiple time a week) it would tell me I was double logged in when I definitely wasn’t and it would knock me out of my place in the project I was listening to.
Tidal also had all these concert exclusives and exclusive video content but I never actually found myself taking the time to check that stuff out. Another thing that sucks about Tidal is even if you type in the exact title of an artist or song, Tidal will pull up the biggest corporate artist with a similar name, it can be difficult to pull up indie acts on there, even if it’s on there (which it usually is).
YouTube Music is dope because it has EVERYTHING – unofficial, mixtapey, alt-versions, covers, b-sides – all that shit you usually find on YouTube but pay the 9.99 or so bucks for YouTube Music and you get that stuff ad-free and collated a little nicer (but still significantly less nice of a look and feel to the app compared to Spotify and Tidal).
YouTube keeps changing up the structure of Premium and Music products but I did the 3 month free trial so it was cool to check it out with.
For me, this is the one….it doesn’t look quite as good as Tidal, Tidal’s sound quality is supposed to be higher and Tidal’s discog display is a little cooler and Spotify has less thorough collections than YouTube and Tidal but in every other respect this is the one.
They have a couples deal where 2 people get accounts for like 12 bucks a month, unlimited streaming, little stream interruption errors, the display and functionality are very good, the discog display is the second best of these 4 apps, driving mode is cool, the collection is still thorough. When you search an artist by correct spelling Spotify brings up that artist instead of trying to push a similar named corporate artist on you like Tidal. Spotify has canvasses, like cool visual accompaniments on their songs for artists that make them.
On the morality of these choices
The homie Shokora has said there’s no real “moral” way to conduct ourselves in a music business context and he's right but I think we can discuss for a moment artist compensation on these platforms. Tidal pays out at a higher rate than the other streamers but only Bandcamp makes artists feel like they’re getting a lion’s share of their earnings from music. In a perfect world we’d all be using that but, in a context where we are talking about user experience and consumer choices, this piece is my assessment.
Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdculture hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers