Is there a cheaper alternative to Spotify out there? Yes! You just need to know where to look.
Spotify really changed the game with listening to music. Before streaming came along at £9.99 per month, we all had to buy the tracks and albums we loved separately. If you really wanted to save money, you’d have had to record songs off the radio – and that’s always been a grey area in terms of legality!
Spotify, therefore, made a huge difference to music lovers’ lives. It’s a legal way to find the songs you love and to make unlimited playlists. You can listen on the go as well as at home. But is there a cheaper alternative to Spotify? What’s the cheapest music streaming service out there?
For some people, £9.99 per month is reasonable for music streaming. However, if you’re shrewd about it, you may be able to cut this back if you shop around. It’s around £120 per year. While that’s still great value, there may still be options out there which you’re not considering.
In this guide, I’ll take a look at free alternatives to Spotify, as well as cost-effective options which could cut down on the cost of your daily listening. £120 is a fair amount of money which could be better spent elsewhere!
Best Alternatives to Spotify
The Free Version of Spotify
If you’re already registered to Spotify, and you’re enjoying the platform, there’s little reason to give it up. There’s a free version available, which will give you access to all the same tracks, all the same albums and more besides. However, there are a few restrictions which are worth knowing about before you drop the Premium version altogether.
Spotify Free does subject you to audio and banner adverts, which aren’t really much to worry about if you only use the service fleetingly. It’s just like tuning into radio. You’ll also only be able to listen on shuffle mode, which means you can’t take full control of albums and playlists like you can with the Premium version. However, you can skip to the next track a few times each hour.
Spotify Free will also require you to stay online while listening. There’s no offline mode. However, this really won’t be a problem if you mainly listen through Wi-Fi, or are carefully managing your data plan.
The Bottom Line: Spotify Free is obviously going to be the first choice for existing users looking to save money. There are a few restrictions, but you still get access to the main catalogue of songs.
SoundCloud started as a service purely for artists and bands to get their music up online and discovered by others. Since then, however, it’s grown to become a reputable alternative on the music streaming scene. The best part is, registration is free, and you can explore a world of unsigned artists and unique tracks without having to pay a penny.
Do bear in mind that ‘free mode’ will come with some terms attached. If you’re playing music as a constant, you’re going to be subject to adverts. You’ll also have to be connected to the web at all times, even if you’re using the app, or are a creator yourself.
The cheapest paid model is £5.99 per month. That’s £4 cheaper than Spotify, but then again, SoundCloud is something of a different beast. SoundCloud Go is the name of this membership level. It’ll let you listen offline and ad-free. Upgrade to £9.99 per month for SoundCloud Go+, which will give you better quality music and more to pick from.
The Bottom Line: SoundCloud is fantastic if you’re into finding unique, independent music. You won’t find chart hits here. However, much of it is free, and you can pay less a month than you would for Spotify to access its best features. The premium subscription may not be worth the money unless you’re really set up getting top quality audio.
Amazon Prime Music
Of course, Amazon had to enter the game at some point. Prime Music (which has a smaller library than Spotify) is included along with an Amazon Prime subscription. Or you can opt to pay for the Amazon Music Unlimited option with a library size comparable to Spotify and priced competitively at £9.99 per month, it’s a nice little add-on to Amazon’s range of entertainment and shopping services. Certainly, if you’re already paying for Prime in the first place, it makes sense to take advantage of the music streaming service.
What’s worth noting, however, is that Prime subscribers can take advantage of paying for the service for £79 for the year. That means you get a saving of over £50 – if you’re already paying for Prime Video and other services, this may be an economical choice work making.
What puts Prime Music behind Spotify is the fact that there isn’t technically a free version or offline mode unless you pay for the full package. However, there is a free trial of a month offered, which you’d be daft not to go for.
*You can currently get 4 months of Amazon Music Unlimited for just £0.99! Check out the offer here.
The Bottom Line: You could save yourself over £50 a year if you already pay for Prime. There’s also a 30 day no obligation free trial for both Amazon Prime and Amazon Music Unlimited so you might as well give it a try!
Last.FM started life as an online radio station where, much like SoundCloud, users could upload their own music. It’s a system which works on ‘scrobbles’ – you can connect it to your music player and it will build a profile for you based on your listening tastes. It’s a great way to find out what your most listened-to songs and artists are.
Last.FM also offers a great radio service where you can explore songs, albeit much the same way you’d explore songs by tuning in via FM or AM. You can explore specific artists and albums too if you wish, however, you will be subjected to adverts if you use the service for free.
Thankfully, an ad-free version exists for just £3.00 per month. If you’re less worried about taking control over the songs you listen to and are more concerned about exploring new artists and tunes, this may be a service well worth paying out for. It’s worth exploring the free model to see how you get on, though it may not be worthy of a full replacement for Spotify for many listeners.
The Bottom Line: Last.FM is a music discovery engine which lets you find new artists and songs. For £3.00 a month, you can browse ad-free. However, you won’t have as much access over what you listen to as you would through Spotify.
For a long time, people have used YouTube as a viable alternative to paying for music streaming. YouTube and Google caught onto this and set up their own music streaming version of their video platform, and it seems to be doing fairly well for itself. For existing users of YouTube, there are a few perks to getting set up on the YouTube Music service, though whether or not it works as a viable alternative to Spotify will depend on the listener.
Billed as one of the best alternatives to Spotify, YouTube Music currently offers a free trial for a short period of time. After that, you’ll be subject to £9.99 per month, just like Spotify. However, interestingly, YouTube has followed Spotify with family plans, where you can sign up five different accounts to the service for £14.99 per month. Eligible students, too, can get a serious discount off the service at 50%. That’s £60 saved per year.
YouTube Music’s free service comes with a few restrictions, such as the appearance of adverts and the fact that you can’t play music in the background. The background music capability for the app is a huge driver for many people. However, even Spotify lets you play music while you access other programs!
The Bottom Line: YouTube Music is useful for people who are already signed up to the service. The background play function will appeal to lots of users. It has a competitive family and student plan setup. Beyond that, however, Spotify is generally easier to use, even though YouTube may have rarer music in its enormous search library.
Apple Music helped to change the game as far as digital music was concerned. However, with individual song purchases through iTunes growing outdated, the brand finally chose to leap to music streaming a few years ago. It was oddly late for the company to do this – however, the service does represent a nice alternative to Spotify worth looking at.
Existing Apple users, such as those on Mac and on iPhones or iPads, will find signing up and moving across fairly seamless. There are over 50 million songs to choose from, meaning it’s likely your favourites will be in here somewhere. You can sync your previous iTunes purchases to the service – and frankly, why wouldn’t that be a feature?
Most interestingly, Apple offers a huge free trial service. While other platforms will let you sample their streaming for a month for free, Apple gives you a whole season – three months – ad free, and without restriction. There isn’t currently a free version of Apple Music doing the rounds, which means this may be your best option to get started.
Priced at £9.99 per month, it may be worth hopping off Spotify to check out Apple for a while, saving just under £30 for the year.
The Bottom Line: There’s no free version of Apple Music, however, a three-month free trial is far better than what other services are offering. With tens of millions of songs available, it’s worth a look if you want to save money on Spotify.
For a long time, TIDAL stood firm as a challenger to Spotify. Set up and maintained by the likes of Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Kanye West, the platform’s main draw lay in the fact that it hosted exclusive music. It was exclusively hosting the first releases from Prince’s back catalogue after his death, which proved to be a big selling point for fans.
TIDAL is priced at £9.99 per month at basic rate, though you can upgrade to their premium service to get access to the best quality audio. This will set you back £19.99 per month. The service has more music in its library than Apple Music at present, with over 60 million tracks available to stream instantly.
It’s currently offering a free trial for a month, but as with other services, there doesn’t seem to be a free mode available without this commitment. Extra draws such as over 250,000 music videos should appeal to some users, though YouTube may well have the edge here.
The Bottom Line: TIDAL is free for 30 days, but is chargeable at £9.99 per month, the same as Spotify, thereafter. A £19.99 model exists for the best quality music. Without a free version on display, it seems to be less viable than Spotify at this point.
Deezer emerged as the main competition for Spotify a few years ago. As such, it’s hung around as a fair alternative to the streamer. It’s priced exactly the same, at £9.99 per month, but does also come with a free mode. Paying the premium rate means you’ll get access to downloadable tracks and unlimited streaming.
Similar to other services, Deezer also offers student and family plans. You can sign up to six people onto the service for £14.99 per month – that’s one more than YouTube supports – while students can enjoy full access at 50% off. There are also plans for top-quality audio listeners, with Deezer HiFi offering a similar service to TIDAL for £19.99 per month.
What sets Deezer behind Spotify is its free service. Unlike Spotify, you won’t be able to skip past songs you don’t like on shuffle mode. Like Spotify, however, you will need to be paying premium to listen offline.
There is a 30-day free trial available, but do be careful when using the app, as you may enter into a shorter, 15-day free trial instead. Always read the small print.
The Bottom Line: Deezer offers a similar service to Spotify at similar prices. Its free service won’t let you skip tracks. However, there are economical family and student plans available, and it’s flexible across many different devices.
Google Play Music
Google is really trying to corner the streaming market, not content with YouTube Music having already entered the fray. Google Play music is aimed at Android users but can be enjoyed by all. You can link it to your existing Google Play Store account, and you’ll be able to listen to tracks you have already bought and downloaded via the cloud. That’s a nice feature which should appeal to more than a few people.
Over 40 million available tracks should appeal to most people, though there are more offered by Apple Music and TIDAL. What sets Google Play Music apart for most is the fact that you can use the cloud play feature for free, though you won’t get access to any further streaming. From here, you’ll need to pay at least £9.99 per month to take full advantage.
Like many other services, however, you can try the streamer for free for a month. There is also a family deal, offering up to six people access for £14.99 per month. Again, this is fairly competitive, and it could save you over £500 a year, all told.
The Bottom Line: Google Play Music has a cloud service where you can listen to downloaded music anywhere you have internet access. Other than this, there’s a free trial option, but not much else of particular interest.
Yes – radio does still count as music streaming if it’s based online! Thankfully, radio still has a huge place for UK music listeners as you can access all your favourite FM and AM stations through standalone apps and websites. The best part is, these stations tend to be completely free.
For example, you can enjoy BBC radio through iPlayer for free. Simply make sure you register an account and that you have a valid TV licence to be able to login. Other famous UK radio brands such as Capital, Absolute and Galaxy have their own dedicated apps, programs and online streaming platforms. These are great fun to listen to if you don’t mind the music selection being beyond your control, and if you don’t mind ads.
Another drawback of radio is, of course, the talk in between tracks. Traditional radio stations will generally have a presenter or two linking tracks in between songs, and may even cut some tracks off before they have chance to finish. Commercial radio stations, such as Absolute and Capital, are funded through advertising, so you won’t be able to skip the ads.
Anyone who grew up listening to radio won’t mind having to sit through presenter banter and advertising. However, in a world where we can pick what we want to listen to, and when, radio isn’t always the most attractive choice for modern listeners.
The Bottom Line: Online radio is completely free, but unlike music streaming, you won’t get to pick the tracks. There will also be presenters talking in between, and you can’t skip advertising.
While I’ve already covered online radio to some extent above, it’s also worth bringing up Jango for its own specific radio experience. Much like Last.FM, the service will let you explore songs and artists and will allow you to filter out songs you love and songs you hate.
The big draw with Jango, of course, is that it’s completely free. However, the main drawback with this service is the fact that there are adverts supporting it, and that you will only be able to explore music through curated playlists. This is offered up as something of a benefit to using the services however, Spotify already offers this side of things as standard.
Jango offers a little incentive where you can rank your audio adverts down to just one every 24 hours. You’ll need to register a free account and will need to connect the service to your Facebook profile. However, once you have these details confirmed and in place, you’ll be able to enjoy a world of music based on popular genres and artists for absolutely nothing.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line with Jango is that it’s free to use – however, you will have to bear witness to a few ads unless you register. Spotify has the edge in terms of freedom of choice, though many people enjoy Jango’s curated playlists.
Things to Consider
If you are looking for a cheap alternative to Spotify, there are always going to be a few things you should bear in mind. A cheaper service, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get the best quality content, or even the same access to the same number of artists and tracks. Spotify is conveniently priced for many people, and there’s a reason why it is still a market leader.
- Look for family or student plans. These subscription deals will help to cut the cost of streaming by hundreds of pounds each year.
- Look for the number of artists and songs offered. Some streaming services will vary wildly, meaning that others will have the edge.
- Does the streaming service have a ‘free’ version? If so, what are its restrictions?
- Is it easy enough for you to move over from Spotify to a different service? Do you already use a certain platform, such as an iPhone, which might make it easier for you to use certain apps?
- Don’t just look at the costs. Spend some time using free trials to drive down the price of your music streaming and then, at the end of your run, pick the winner!
So – what are the best alternatives to Spotify? In conclusion, all streaming services have their pros and cons. For my money, Apple Music leads the way as a great alternative in terms of songs available and the length of the free trial. YouTube Music, too, is hugely convenient and well-priced. Free alternatives to Spotify are, sadly, truly few and far between. However, there are still lots of great deals out there. Have you found any cheap alternatives to Spotify you’d like to share with us? What is the best music streaming service for your needs and tastes? Let me know in the comments