Tunes on the Go

earpods-music-listening-image-from-appledotcomTunes on the Go: a reader asks…

I am just getting into listening to music. I have a Mac, a Windows PC, an iPhone and an Android smartphone (between me and my spouse). I’m a bit overwhelmed with all the choices in getting and listening to music. Can you give me some advice for something we both can share and use? We want to be able to listen to music on any of our computers or smartphones, and also want to be able to listen to music even without an internet connection, like when we’re on an airplane.

The music streaming service market is hot, hot hot. There are dozens of choices and most offer some sort of offline use, where you download songs, albums or playlists to your computer or smartphone to listen to on the airplane. Fortunately, just about any of these services offer cross-platform support, even Apple Music (see Google Play Store for Apple Music, and iTunes for PC). If you are an Amazon Prime member, you get Amazon Prime Music already, so you really wouldn’t need to subscribe to anything else unless you want to. Let me quickly go over what are probably the most obvious choices for you, Apple Music, Google Play Music and Spotify.

I’m going to assume that you want to be able to listen to different music at the same time, so you’ll need a family license for music streaming services. All three of these services will cost you $15/month for a family account, up to 5/6 people, and all have a free trial, and a free tier with limits to what you can do. As long as you pay for the streaming service, you can download songs from the library and play them offline.


streaming-music-services-logosApple Music has a free trial that lasts 3 months. Apple boasts a library of over 30 million songs. Your Mac and iPhone come with the iTunes music app, and you can easily install it on PC and Android smartphone. Learn more about it at Apple Music.

Google Play Music has a free trial for 1 month. Google boasts a library of over 35 million songs. Your Android phone already has the music player, and you can add the app for iPhone. plus use the Google Play Web on both Mac and PC, and/or install the Google Music Manager. Learn more about it at Google Play Music.

Spotify has a free 1 month trial. Spotify boasts a library of over 30 million songs. There are apps for iPhone and Android, as well as for Mac or PC.Learn more about it at Spotify.

In addition, there are other specialty services I like, such as Pandora. Pandora’s paid subscription includes comedy and other non-music media. And as I mentioned, if you already have Amazon Prime, you get their streaming service included, and they have apps for almost any device on their download page. And don’t forget Youtube which has tons of music videos (such as the excellent Mike Masse channel).

So which should you go for? That depends on what type of music you like – any one of the top three have enough variety and cover all the genre types. If you want to remain independent of the major platforms (Apple and Google), then Spotify might be your best choice. Feel free to use the comments section to give me more info about your music-listening habits and preferences and I might be able to better steer you towards a specific service. And feel free to try out some or all of them, either their trial offerings or their free services (usually ad-supported and a lot of other limitations).

If other readers have any favorites, feel free to chime in by commenting on this article. There are just too many different services and lots of hidden gems fill a perfect niche in the listening-to-tunes world.

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