Why is Mixtape 3 not on Apple Music

Music streaming in the test: That's why Apple Music is not one of the winners

The consumption and distribution of music has seen nothing less than a revolution in the past. While vinyl records and tapes have determined the reproduction and reproduction of music for decades, the reign of the audio CD has already been much shorter - and even downloading albums and individual tracks from the iTunes Store feels almost like an anachronism today.

Streaming is all the rage

The present and future of the music business undoubtedly belongs to streaming - a trend that has long since taken hold in Germany: According to a survey carried out on behalf of the “Digitalverband Bitkom”, 44 percent of German Internet users aged 14 and over use music streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music. After all, around a quarter of the streamers pay for these music offers as part of a monthly subscription.

Quobuz is aimed at connoisseurs and offers its catalog of almost 70,000 albums in the finest 24-bit resolution.

If you don't pay, you can also use Spotify in a free version, but you have to do without the offline function and live with advertising.

This is now also worthwhile for the industry: the consulting firm Pricewaterhouse Cooper, for example, estimates the total revenue from music streaming for all providers in Germany at 311 million euros in 2017. By 2019, sales are even expected to rise to 426 million euros. The dreaded “gravedigger of the music industry” has long since become a savior.

Apple is also involved in the lucrative market - not without success: With a market share of almost 21 percent, the iTunes inventor has now firmly established itself in second place behind the market leader Spotify, which, however, is almost unattainable at just under 43 percent.

We used two high-quality headphones to play the music streaming services: In addition to a warm-sounding hi-fi device for the living room, we also tested our predefined playlist with studio headphones, which are known for particularly little “whitewash”. We chose the highest playback quality offered by the services in order to take full advantage of the broadband internet connection.

Differences at second glance

At first glance, the major streaming providers in particular are similar in terms of their offerings. Nevertheless, there are in some cases considerable differences with regard to the operation, the music selection, the playback quality and the additional offerings. Noble chanteuse Beyoncé, for example, only publishes on Tidal, which - not entirely by chance - belongs to her husband Jay-Z. Sports fans, on the other hand, could find their Mecca on Amazon: Their Music Unlimited package includes - highly unusual -, for example, the Bundesliga soccer games.

We hope to make it a little easier for you to choose the right service for you.

This is what you should pay attention to

Family subscription:With a family subscription you also save a lot of money if you want to provide your entire flat share with a music subscription - because the providers usually do not check whether the participants are actually family members and are happy to turn a blind eye.

Listen to music offline:Sure, all streaming providers offer a function for listening to music without an active Internet connection. However, they differ in the number of end devices supported - Apple Music, for example, allows temporary downloads on up to ten devices, Spotify only allows three.

Sound quality:Do you value high playback quality, especially at home? Then providers who only provide lossy streaming formats are hardly an option for you. But there are also differences when it comes to enjoying music in the subway - some providers only stream at 256 instead of 320 kbps.

End devices:When you are out and about, you usually stream with your iPhone. But what do you want to use at home? Do you own an Apple TV? Do you value a Chromecast integration? Or do you use the Sonos system? Choose the service that your device supports!

Amazon Music Unlimited: 9.99 euros
Apple Music: 9.99 euros
Deezer: 9.99 euros
Google Play Music: 9.99 euros
Spotify: 9.99 euros
Tidal: 9.99 euros (HiFi Premium: 19.99 euros)

Music library:Most providers' music catalogs now contain an average of around 40 million titles. But not all services have the same artists in their program. If you value your favorite bands, you should check in advance with a trial subscription whether they can also be found in the library of your favorite streaming service.

Curated playlists:Supervised playlists or playlists automatically generated with clever algorithms help you discover new music based on your previous musical taste. Unfortunately, not every provider is equally targeted on this point.

Test 1: library

The selection is huge per se: the streaming providers currently have an average of 40 million songs in their music catalogs, Tidal even advertises 46 million titles. Consignor Amazon irritates with a two-pronged offer: While the Prime Music subscription only contains two million tracks, the bookable Unlimited offer advertises 40 million tracks. Despite the largely identical range of music on offer, it is worth taking a closer look, because not all artists support all streaming providers. Beyoncé, for example, only sells digitally at Tidal. And can it be something more than “just” music? Deezer and Spotify excel with an extensive catalog of audio books and games and entice with a curated selection of podcasts to completely replace other music apps.

Test 2: discover new things

Spotify shows the experience: The selection of playlists is huge and the algorithm for new suggestions also compiles extremely interesting playlists that are derived from previous music consumption. In addition, there is the often underestimated radio function, which combines artist and genre streams, and the social aspect neglected by all other services: users of the desktop app can be inspired by the current musical tastes of their friends. But Google also knows how to score: After buying up Songza, the Play Music offer shines with, for example, playlists based on mood, location and weather. Deezer's "Flow" function also does a good job and acts like an endless playlist that lets you discover new songs as well as familiar ones.

Test 3: curation

Algorithms for the compilation of playlists based on the playback history are a fine thing - the manual curation by an expert team creates a completely different price-performance ratio. Tidal, for example, relies on well-known artists like Britney Spears and DJs like Ferry Corsten, who share their musical preferences. Apple, on the other hand, employs a complete team of experts who feed the various genres. And that obviously does his job very well: If you follow a playlist for weeks, you will find many favorite tracks - plus a few pearls that match the music style. On the other hand, Spotify's huge distribution speaks for itself: There are many radio stations, music magazines and even companies that entertain their customers with playlists created by employees.

Test 4: price-performance

9.99 euros seems to be the sound limit for music streamers - all of the services we tested sell their standard monthly subscription at this price. If you already have a Prime account with Amazon, an upgrade to the unlimited Music Unlimited offer costs 7.99 euros. You can save a lot of money if the Trust Service has a family offer in its portfolio, with which five other people can usually use a subscription at a price of 14.99 euros. There are also often discounts for the next generation: € 4.99, for example, is taken from Spotify and Apple for enrolled students. However, the offers are usually limited to one to two years. Tidal is ideal for music enthusiasts who value lossless transmissions. However, they have to invest 20 euros a month for the desired CD quality.

Two winners: Spotify and Tidal

Which music streaming service is right for you is also decided by the “ecosystem” in which you operate. If you have an Apple TV, Apple Music is almost the logical consequence - although we may not really like the user interface in its second incarnation. Operation is confusing and inconsistent, especially on the iPhone. Google Play Music may be a good choice if you already own a Chromecast device. However, the offer itself does not know how to set any lasting accents. As a hi-fi purist, Tidal is sure to be the first choice for you - if you don't rely on specialist providers such as Qobuz or Idagio anyway.

But if you are simply looking for a good streaming service with an almost complete music library, good desktop, web and mobile apps as well as a high level of hardware support from third-party manufacturers, the top dog Spotify is a safe choice. The word “Spotify” alone now stands for an entire market, similar to “Tempo” for handkerchiefs. Plus, incorporating social aspects into listening to music is a lot of fun.

An extensive library of playlists, albums and individual tracks plus a social component: Spotify offers the most complete range of all music streaming services.