Mainstream music streaming platforms are great, don’t get us wrong.
They have a wide variety of music from all genres, and offer features that make your listening experience personal and enjoyable.
Some might want platforms which support their favourite artists directly, or those that are more affordable than their mainstream counterparts. Others might be after bigger directories of international music. And for the real music buffs out there, quality might be the most important part of the listening experience.
Here are some of the top alternative music streaming services based on your musical needs.
1. Best Music Platforms for Artists
Many of the popular streaming services end up falling short when it comes to efficiently supporting their musicians and creators.
Whether you’re a music lover looking to support the artists you vibe with, or a creator trying to find better financial alternatives, these artist-friendly platforms are calling out your name.
SoundCloud is considered one of the best streaming platforms for supporting creators.
The Swedish-founded online audio distribution platform allows users to upload, promote and share their own music.
Created in 2007, the platform now has at least 30+ million creators and 175+ million unique monthly listeners.
Its newly introduced “fan-powered royalties” system means that any subscriber’s subscription fees or advertising revenue will be divided up among the artists they actually listen to.
For example, one musician who had 124,000 followers used to make around $120 in revenue a month. With this new system, he makes $600.
That way, you’ll be directly supporting your favourite artist. In comparison, apps like Spotify have all the revenue go into one big pot that is split among the platform’s most popular artists.
Moreover, Soundcloud gives the option to share raw demos, tracks in progress, podcasts and more, making listeners feel like they’re a part of the song’s creation process.
It also helps subscribers find diverse and niche creators who haven’t made it into the mainstream yet.
Established in 2010 by a small indie label, the independent streaming app is created by musicians, for musicians.
Applying a musician-centric approach, Sonstream allows listeners to pay artists directly to stream their music.
Ridding themselves of the mainstream ideas of ads, subscription fees and algorithms, Sonstream instead applies a ‘Pay per Play’ system.
Since it is strongly built on supporting musicians financially, Sonstream allows users to pay anywhere around 1.5-3.3 pence per stream for any song of their choice.
Through this, listeners are directly contributing to their artists without feeling like their money is going into the pockets of artists they don’t listen to.
As a user, you will only pay for the songs that you actually listen to.
2. The more affordable options
These similar music streaming platforms now have the advantage of being the more desirable, cheaper option.
Launched as part of an already popular platform, YouTube Music is a streaming service that allows users to browse songs and music videos on Youtube.
Officially announced in 2018, the relatively young music platform has gained itself 50 million subscribers as of 2021.
Generally, YouTube Music is free for any listeners who use its ad-supported version. Users don’t need a ‘free trial’ before they eventually get charged like many other services.
Instead, this free version is always accessible through mobile phones or the online web player.
Youtube Music Premium is the same price as Spotify’s old rates, with £9.99 per month for an individual plan, £4.99 per month for a student plan, and £14.99 per month for a family plan of up to six members.
Amazon Music is a service available for free for Amazon Prime members. Offering 2 million songs, thousands of playlists and personalized streaming stations, this is quite the bargain.
However, for access to more songs, Amazon Music Unlimited is available to Prime members for a monthly subscription fee as low as £7.99. For non-prime users, the monthly subscription is £9.99, and it’s student and family plans equal YouTube Music’s rates.
For those of you who care about the authentic quality of the tracks you listen to, streaming platforms can feel like a disappointing fragment of the whole experience.
Founded in 2014, the music streaming platform gained momentum after Jay Z enlisted musicians to promote its relaunch in 2015. With names like Beyonce, Madonna, Kanye West and Deadmau5 among the promoters and shareholders, Tidal quickly found itself in the mainstream eye.
Despite the fact that Tidal has not disclosed its user recently, their numbers had reached 3 million in the first year since its relaunch.
Pioneered as a platform dedicated to song quality, Tidal Hi-Fi and Master offer ‘lossless’ audio experience.
What this means is listeners will get to hear the music in the exact same quality that it was recorded in, with nothing getting lost during the conversion to streaming apps.
This high-fidelity sound quality that’ll outmatch any of its competitors.
However, the subscription fee for this unique auditory experience can cost up to £19.99. Expensive in the face of its competitors, but many believe it’s well worth it.
One of the downsides of many mainstream streaming platforms is that despite their long lists of available music, they might lack diversity in language.
These streaming platforms cater to international audiences from different parts of the world.
This French online streaming service was launched in 2007, and has 16 million active users with 7 million paid subscribers.
One of the perks of this platform is that it caters to a variety of ethnicities and languages worldwide. Deezer even creates specifically-curated playlist for songs in different languages,
It has podcasts divided by language category, including Spanish-speaking, French-speaking, German-speaking, Russian-speaking and more.
The most popular streaming platform in the Middle East and North Africa, Anghami has surmounted over 73 million users since its launch ten years ago.
With a particular focus on Arabic music, Anghami has the largest library of Arabic songs, meaning that the platform acts as the only legal and accessible app of its kind for the region.
Alongside Arabic, the app also offers a catalogue of international music from around the world. It’s international range features English, French, Italian, African and more.
You’ll still find your mainstream English favourites, but the app offers more options for non-English lovers of music.
Whether you know exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to music, or are simply open to trying new things, it’s worth giving something other than Spotify and Apple Music a try.
Who knows, maybe you’ll like it better.