After years of testing, I determined Spotify is the best music streaming service overall because it makes discovering new music easy and it’s compatible with all speaker systems.

Music Discovery (A+):

  • Spotify shines in its ability to find new music. When you visit an artist’s page, Spotify recommends a bunch of similar artists and songs you’ll probably like. It’s consistently spot on.
  • Discover Weekly is a playlist of 30 songs catered specifically for you, featuring songs you might like from artists you haven’t listened to. No service comes close to matching it. It’s one of the biggest innovations in the tech industry that no one talks about and my favorite feature of any app. I look forward to my set of music every Monday morning. (It’s important to note that it’s a machine learning algorithm. The more data it has about your listening habits, the better it’ll know your tastes. It’s essential to let Spotify know when you don’t like songs and to add songs to your collection when you like them).
  • When you follow your favorite artists, you can get a notification when they release new music.
  • Your Daily Mix is a set of six playlists that are refreshed daily with a combination of music you like and some new tracks. The selection is based on your listening habits.
  • My only beef with Spotify’s music discovery is that it only shows the top 10 songs from each artist’s page, whereas other services give you at least the top 20 songs in order of popularity. Spotify is not helpful when you’re trying to find a popular song and you don’t know its name.

Apps (A):

  • The Mac and iOS apps have similar setups (consistent and easy to navigate).
  • I prefer Spotify’s dark interface appearance to everything else.
  • Spotify’s AutoFill feature (when searching for an artist) is the best there is.
  • If you enable “Private Session,” Spotify doesn’t remember what was played and won’t use it in their algorithm for when finding new music. For example, I typically listen to rock, but while I’m writing, I listen to music without many lyrics. I don’t want similar music showing up in my Discover Weekly.
  • Playlists are public by default, and collaborative playlists let you and your friends share and add new music to a playlist.
  • Your playlists and songs don’t leave your library if you opt for the free version later. You can see all your music and even listen to your music. You’ll just have to listen to the ads as well.
  • After using Spotify as my main streaming service for a year, I’ve noticed annoying bugs in the phone app. A couple of times per week, the display turns completely blank, or the search results don’t show anything, so you have to force-quit the app.

Compatibility (A+):

  • Spotify works perfectly with Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Sonos. It doesn’t work with Siri on HomePod, but you can AirPlay it to HomePod instead.
  • Spotify Connect is a game changer. You can listen to a song on your phone through your headphones, then change the sound source to your speakers when you get home without missing a beat. If you’re tired of listening through the speakers or are on the move again, fire up Spotify on your MacBook and the song will pick up where it left off. Lots of speakers work with Spotify Connect, and it’s a better solution than Bluetooth.

Library (C+):

  • When you add a song to your library, it automatically saves for offline listening by default.
  • You can only save music for offline playback on three devices, and up to 10,000 songs.Some diehard music fans are outraged by this limit, but it’s overblown if you ask me:
  • The song limit doesn’t include saved playlists. For instance, you can put songs in playlists and save them and they’re not counted towards your limit. It’s not a perfect workaround and forces you to change your habits, but it’s doable. Plus, you can’t listen to 10,000 songs at once!
  • You can match your old music from Spotify collection via an XML file or with a service like STAMP.
  • If you have funky music that’s not streamable, there’s not an ideal solution like the other services have to get it into your library. You can upload your own music to Spotify, but it’s not intuitive and the process has to be started via the desktop app to work on your phone. Here are the steps:
  1. Enable “Show Local Files” inside the desktop app’s settings and tell it where the files are located.
  2. Your local music will show up in a folder called “Local Files.”
  3. Create a playlist and drag your local songs into the new playlist.
  4. Download this playlist on the desktop app, for offline listening, by clicking the “Download” tab.
  5. Your playlist will show up on your phone and all your other Spotify devices once you’ve hit the “Download” tab.
  6. Then, you can add the songs from the playlist to your library by pressing the heart button on your phone.

Bonus (A+):

  • Spotify offers a free option, though it’s streaming-only (with ads) and you can only shuffle songs with six skips allowed.
  • Students get Spotify Premium for $5/month and Hulu for a free bonus.
  • Spotify is getting into original content with video series. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes.
  • While you won’t notice a difference in the default audio quality between these music services, Spotify lets you choose between three lower quality settings. This can be helpful if you’re streaming with your cellular data and want to persevere it.

Quick Review (TL;DR)

Discovery: Discover Weekly and algorithmic suggestions are Spotify’s secret sauce.
Apps: Mac, iOS, and Android apps look similar and have a sleek, dark interface.
Compatibility: Works with any smart or HiFi speaker and any smartphone.
Library: You can't easily upload music that's not in Spotify's catalog.
Bonus: They have an excellent free option and include a Hulu subscription.

Who is this for?

Spotify is best for you if want to find new music based on your tastes. It's the perfect combination of music curation and device compatibility. It'd be nice to upload music that's not in Spotify's library, but they get everything else right. Music is Spotify's only focus, and they excel at it.