Music apps offer more methods to pay and play

Music is a necessity; to work out, to drive to work, to get through hard times. It’s rare that someone doesn’t have an Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora or SoundCloud account. But which platform is the best?

Apple Music was created in June of 2015 and has taken off ever since. Verto Index, a website that rates top performers and stickiness of apps, games, websites and devices, shows in last month’s index that Apple Music had 36.9 million smartphone users, towering over Pandora with 26.4 million, Spotify with 19.1 million and SoundCloud with 15.4 million smartphone users.

Apple Music makes it easy to find new music, curated playlists, music videos and top charts. It includes a special ‘For You’ section that puts together playlists for your taste, with labels like ‘My New Music Mix’ and ‘My Favorites Mix.’ There is also a new playlist that appears for each day of the week. Apple Music is ad free and there isn’t a limit to how many songs you can skip on radio stations for a monthly payment of $9.99 per month for the individual membership .

A tradeoff is that it is harder to access Apple Music on a PC. Many also don’t like that there is a limit to underground artist’s music on Apple Music compared to a platform like SoundCloud. Nevertheless, Apple Music is one of the best options for what you get. It’s an unlimited library of music with ways to connect with your favorite artists.

Spotify Music is similar to Apple Music in style and price, with a home button displaying music you might like and music to ‘start your weekend off right!’ It has popular playlists, charts, popular podcasts, Spotify Original Video Series, New Releases and music for your mood. There is a browse section providing charts, new releases, videos, podcasts, discover music and concerts coming to your area

It also includes a section labeled ‘genres & moods’ and goes more in depth in comparison to the home section of the app. There is a convenient search button to make it easy to find music. The radio button gives recommendations for radio stations, as well as genre stations.

There is a ‘Your Library’ section that shows your playlists, stations, songs, albums, artists and podcasts & videos. There is also an option to find friends and share music with them. The bad part about having Spotify is that there are continuous ads and limits to how many skips you have unless you upgrade for $9.99 a month ($4.99/mo student membership, $14.99/mo premium).

Pandora strays away from the style of Spotify and Apple Music. The focus of Pandora has always been radios stations. There are thousands of radio stations to choose from, and they can be artist, genre or track based. There is also a place where you can get local concert dates. There is a feed button to get notifications from people you follow. A profile button provides a place that shows you your likes, bookmarks, who you’re following and who is following you.

If you upgrade for $4.99 per month (Pandora Premium is $9.99/mo if you use their website or Google Play and $12.99 with iTunes), you can create personal stations, get unlimited skips and replays, get higher quality audio and three offline stations. If you don’t upgrade, you deal with the bulk of ads and limit to skips.

SoundCloud is another platform that is set up differently. SoundCloud has a wide variety of underground and upcoming artists. Many popular musicians also have accounts and release new music on SoundCloud.

The home button shows music from people you’re following, including new releases from artists. The search section recommends music based on songs you’ve liked. There is also suggested stations, SoundCloud charts and charts by genre.

The profile section, like Pandora, shows your liked tracks, playlists and albums and stations. It also lists your recently played artists, albums and songs. SoundCloud is free, but if you upgrade to SoundCloud Go, it’s $4.99 per month . If you upgrade, you can enjoy offline listening and no ads.