Best Free Music Streaming Services (2022)

Music fans have a wide variety of streaming options. Depending on what you’re interested in and how much you’re willing to pay, the best music streaming services offer appealing features such as expansive libraries, curated recommendations based on your taste, and high-quality uncompressed files.

But you have free music streaming options as well. Even if you’re already paying for another service (or two), a number of free services provide niche features that could be great additions to your music listening arsenal.

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Most music streaming services let you sample their paid options with a free trial, but you can use the platforms on this list indefinitely without ever putting in a credit card number. (Amazon Prime Music is an exception; the tunes are part of what a $119-a-year membership buys.)

Before you invest your time building playlists, you want to be sure you pick the right service. Here’s a rundown of what the best free music streaming services offer.

You have a number of options to choose from, presented here in reverse alphabetical order, partly because Amazon’s “free” music streaming service technically isn’t free. We also have recommendations on headphones and speakers to help the music come alive.

  • YouTube Music
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • Idagio
  • Amazon Prime Music
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The free version of YouTube Music works a bit differently from the other services on this list. Whether you’re listening in a web browser or on the app, you can stream any song you want. Most other services restrict you to playlists or radio-style stations, at least when you’re using their app as opposed to the website. Users can also upload up to 100,000 of their own audio files to stream from the cloud, a great option if you have a collection of music that you can’t find on streaming services.

YouTube Music—as the name might suggest—also integrates a ton of videos from the regular YouTube platform. You can go straight from listening to your favorite Radiohead album to watching a video of the group performing at a music festival. As with almost every other free service, you’ll have to put up with ads.

Drawbacks: The free tier of YouTube Music has a major flaw that most other services don’t. You can’t lock your phone screen or switch over to another app or else the music stops. That keeps you from scrolling through Facebook or checking email while listening to music. Even if you just want to listen, having the screen on will drain your battery faster.

However, the problem doesn’t apply if you’re listening to files you’ve uploaded yourself, and it doesn’t happen when you’re listening on a computer.

Who it’s best for: People who want access to a large library or songs and videos on demand and don’t need to do anything else with their phones while they’re listening with the app. It’s also a great option for listening to your own music files on the go.

Spotify

Spotify is a dominant player in the music streaming industry, rivaled only by Apple Music. One thing that sets it ahead: a free tier, which Apple Music lacks. Like most of the services on this list, Spotify makes you put up with ads, but it has an appealing option where you can play a longer ad to get 30 minutes of uninterrupted listening.

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The company is famous for its music recommendation engine, and free users can take full advantage of it. The app learns what kind of music you like as you listen and recommends daily and weekly playlists based on your tastes. Spotify invested heavily in podcasts over the past few years as well, so it can work as a hub for both kinds of audio, and you’ll get access to some exclusive content.

If you listen on a computer, you can play individual songs on demand, but the phone app limits you to playlists and stations.

Drawbacks: The biggest difference between the free and paid tiers (aside from the ads) is the fact that you can’t pick individual tracks on the phone app. If you just want to listen to Queen on the go, Spotify’s free service has you covered. But if it has to be “Bohemian Rhapsody,” you’ll need to wait for it to come up on a playlist, and you can skip only six tracks per hour. Free users are also limited to a lower audio quality level and can’t download tracks to listen to offline.

Who it’s best for: People who want recommendations for new music and want to listen to songs on demand on their computers.

Pandora was a pioneer in music streaming. When it first launched, it was one of the only services with an algorithmically tailored recommendation engine that would learn what you enjoy and recommend new music in a radio-style stream.

Today, Pandora has a paid tier that lets users listen to songs on demand, but it still operates the same free service that made it famous in the early 2000s. You can create stations based on genres, artists, and songs, and train it to your tastes with thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons. You’ll need to listen to ads after playing a few songs.

Drawbacks: On the free version of Pandora, you need to sit through an ad if you want to listen to a specific song, skip backward on a radio station, or repeat a track you just listened to. The service also limits how many times you can skip tracks, and free users can’t make or share playlists.

Who it’s best for: People who want a radio-station-style listening experience and want to discover new songs and artists.

(Video) Online music streaming services. Which one is what?

Idagio

Idagio is geared purely toward classical music. Other platforms can struggle to organize classical because they ignore factors such as conductors, soloists, and individual movements within a larger piece. Idagio handles all of that with an interface built for classical music from the ground up.

You don’t have to be a Brahms expert to enjoy the service, especially when you can use it free. You can listen to Idagio’s entire library without paying a dime, and access playlists and recommendations curated for different moods and situations.

Idagio recommends music based on your taste as you use it. Classical is a diverse genre that spans centuries, but the service makes it easy to find something you’ll like.

Drawbacks: First, it’s classical music only. Also, the app will let free users listen only to playlists and radio stations, though you can play individual tracks with a free account if you’re using a web browser. Like most services, Idagio users can’t stream high-fidelity audio files on the free tier. And you can’t listen to Idagio on some speakers that stream over WiFi, such as Sonos, unless you sign up for a paid account. There are no restrictions on Bluetooth-connected devices.

Who it’s best for: Classical music fans or anyone who wants to dive deeper into the genre.

Technically, Amazon Prime Music isn’t free. But it comes with a service millions of Americans are already paying for.

Amazon Prime Music is a full-fledged music service with few of the built-in shortcomings you find in the free versions of other streaming platforms. There are no ads, you can skip as many tracks as you want, and you can download songs to listen to offline. Prime Music has playlists and curated recommendations based on what you listen to. Unlike the free tiers on some other services, such as Spotify, there’s no meaningful difference between listening in the mobile app and listening using the desktop browser.

Drawbacks: Amazon Prime Music gives you access to only 2 million songs. That might sound like a lot, but it’s limited in comparison to the libraries of most other streaming services, including Amazon’s own paid streaming service, Amazon Music Unlimited, which has 75 million. Prime Music might not have all of your favorite tracks, but you should be able to find something you like.

Who it’s best for: Amazon Prime members who don’t mind a somewhat limited music selection.

(Video) Music Streaming Services Compared

How to Listen

Whichever service you choose, you’ll have a better time with your music if you play it on equipment that sounds great. Here are a few of the best-rated headphones and speakers from CR’s ratings.

Best Free Music Streaming Services (1)

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I want to live in a world where consumers take advantage of technology, not the other way around. Access to reliable information is the way to make that happen, and that's why I spend my time chasing it down. When I'm off the clock, you can find me working my way through an ever-growing list of podcasts. Got a tip? Drop me an email (thomas.germain@consumer.org) or follow me on Twitter (@ThomasGermain) for my contact info on Signal.

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FAQs

What app is like Spotify but free? ›

Other interesting free alternatives to Spotify are SoundCloud, YouTube Music, Bandcamp and Funkwhale. Spotify alternatives are mainly Music Streaming Services but may also be Audio Players or Music Discovery Services.

What is a better alternative to Spotify? ›

Along with Apple Music and Google's YouTube Music, Amazon Music is one of the most well-known services outside of Spotify. It offers three different music tiers; as you travel up the ladder, you get access to more songs at higher levels of quality. You can also listen to podcasts.

What music streaming sites are free? ›

Free Music

iHeartRadio blends live, terrestrial radio with playlists. Spotify has many free playlists and podcasts. Amazon Music Unlimited offers the same.

Is Spotify or Pandora free? ›

Free Subscription

Both Spotify and Pandora make use of a freemium business model. This means that both offer ad-supported access to certain features for free. Users can also opt to upgrade to a paid subscription to remove ads and get more features.

Which music app is totally free? ›

Spotify and Tidal have free, ad-supported tiers of service, and apps like Pandora, iHeart and YouTube Music give you access to vast libraries of free popular music as well. Here are seven of the best free music apps for iPhone and Android, and why you should check them out.

Is the free version of Spotify worth it? ›

If you're the kind of music lover who doesn't mind turning on your speakers and letting Spotify take control, Free might still be right for you. 70 million-plus songs and 2.2 million podcasts for nothing? That's not to be sniffed at, and you won't miss out on Spotify's curation, discovery and social smarts either.

What is the biggest competitor to Spotify? ›

At the time of writing, Apple Music has the largest catalog with 90 million tracks, followed by Spotify at 82 million. But that's not the end of the story: The number of songs offered by a music service used to be the main differentiators, but all of the major ones offer over 60 million tracks.

Are customers leaving Spotify? ›

A survey of Spotify users reveals around 19% say they will cancel or have canceled their subscription.

Is Amazon Prime music free? ›

Amazon Music Prime is included with your Prime membership at no additional cost. It features 2 million songs and more than a thousand playlists and stations programmed by Amazon's music experts.

Is deezer still free? ›

The platform is 100% free, powered by ads to support the artists and content you love. You'll find everything from global hits to local music, podcasts and radio.

Which is better Pandora or iHeartRadio? ›

While Pandora has been criticized for lack of a human element in its presentation, iHeartRadio allows users to access not only music but also the human commentary and personality that accompany it on whatever local station listeners choose.

Which app is best for offline music without subscription? ›

Top 14 Free Offline Music Apps Works Without WiFi (2022): The Ultimate Guide!
  • Spotify. Spotify is a podcast and free music app. ...
  • SoundCloud. ...
  • Google Play Music. ...
  • Amazon Music Unlimited. ...
  • Gaana. ...
  • Apple Music. ...
  • Jio Saavn. ...
  • Musify.
27 Jan 2022

Why do people use Pandora instead of Spotify? ›

Pandora Stations has more functionality than Spotify Radio

You can also thumbs up or thumbs down songs to control what plays on the Station and to save for on-demand playback later. You can even save any Station or playlist to My Collection. Each Pandora Station can be adjusted to different modes.

Who still uses Pandora? ›

In 2021, Pandora had about 55.9 million active monthly users, and 6.4 million subscribers.

Is Pandora no longer free? ›

Pandora is free to use, but users can upgrade to Pandora Plus or Pandora Premium for ad-free listening.

Is Spotify free forever? ›

Free Spotify Premium Forever - 2022 Ultimate Guide. Is Spotify free forever? The answer is yes. However, only premium users can enjoy this fantastic music app without limitation - at a relatively high price.

What app is like Apple music but free? ›

There are more than 100 alternatives to Apple Music for a variety of platforms, including Online / Web-based, Android, Windows, iPhone and Mac. The best alternative is Spotify, which is free. Other great apps like Apple Music are foobar2000, AIMP, Last.fm and SoundCloud.

What is the #1 music app? ›

App App NameUsage Rank Usage Rank is based on a Similarweb algorithm that factors in 'Current Installs' and 'Active Users' in the selected country, category, and leader boards for the last 28 days.
1Spotify: Music and Podcasts-
2Pandora - Music & Podcasts-
3Beat Maker Pro - DJ Drum Pad-
4SiriusXM: Music, Sports & News-
46 more rows

Is Spotify free with Amazon Prime? ›

Users can enjoy listening to millions of new vocal and instrumental audio compositions without additional financial costs. You won't be able to access your Spotify premium subscription for free with Amazon Prime.

Why can I skip songs on Spotify without premium? ›

Spotify Free on mobile is limited to 6 skips per 1 hour. However, there are selected playlists with no skip limit for Free users as well, there will be no shuffle symbol next to the title of the playlist. That means, you can choose a song you want to play and you have unlimited skips.

How much is Spotify monthly? ›

Only $9.99/month after. Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply. 1 month free not available for users who have already tried Premium.

How can I listen to Spotify for free without premium? ›

How to Block Ads on Spotify without Premium [Updated in 2022]
  1. Method 1. Use a VPN to Block Ads while Listening to Spotify.
  2. Method 2. Use a Spotify Music Converter to Remove Ads.
  3. Method 3. Use Spotify Ads Blocker on Windows/Mac/iPhone/Android.
  4. Method 4. Upgrade to Premium Subscription to Avoid Ads.

How do I get Spotify for free without premium? ›

Before we purchase a premium plan, Spotify will give us a 1-month free trial. The official premium page has listed this information, so it's available for everyone. But if you choose to check out with PayPal during the paying process, you'll get three months of Spotify Premium for free.

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