Unlike the year 2000 when you had to buy music albums in CD or DVD format, listen to the radio, or watch MTV to get the latest hits, today, you can access your favorite music from online streaming music services.
Trailblazing services like iTunes and Pandora set the pace for many other such services, which created a new revenue stream for producers and helped internet music listening go mainstream.
While Spotify is expected to be in 178 countries by the end of 2021, it still has a few limitations that are a turnoff for people seeking free music streaming services. Among these limitations are the inability to shuffle music, lack of unlimited skipping of songs, no high-res audio, no lyrics in its apps, and a limited number of music videos.
If you want to switch from Spotify’s free tier to other free music streaming services, here are the 15 best Spotify alternatives you can try.
Being a user-oriented music streaming service, SoundCloud has a large library of songs and podcasts that allow users to not only stream content but also upload some of their own.
The service is available on all devices and they are working on a desktop app for Windows users. Unlike Spotify, which offers limited features in its free tier, SoundCloud’s free version offers unlimited skipping and shuffling of songs, downloading the original track in the lossless formats, and is available in progressive web apps on Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers.
You can also curate their playlists, repost other creators’ work to their accounts, and share their music to various social media platforms. SoundCloud allows for direct user support, meaning you can donate to them directly or through their website links.
There are a few limitations though. For instance, the free version has occasional ads, SoundCloud Go and Go+ are region limited, and not all released content is available (depending on region and subscription plans).
Plus, your search results may include remixes from various creators, and if you’d like to upload with the free version you can only upload a total of 180 minutes or 3 hours.
You may be familiar with the fact that Google Play Music is now being discontinued and is in a process of phasing out, but not to worry.
Google introduced an alternative to it: YouTube Music, which is now available in select regions for now as they develop the app continuously.
In contrast to Spotify, the app allows you to search and play any individual song with unlimited skips and, if you thought your precious Google Play Music playlist was completely discarded, you can transfer all your music to the app which saves you the time for searching those individual songs all over again.
Also included is a wide variety of original music videos and the inclusion of other songs that you probably won’t find on Spotify.
The service has some likable aspects to it besides its free plan. You’ll have to endure the ads, but they’re not as many as you may anticipate, and the interface is cleanly laid out with legible fonts and controls such as Library, Home, and Hotlist.
Pandora is a leading music streaming service that offers music and podcasts for personalized listening experiences that evolve with your preferences and tastes. The platform offers highly personalized listening experiences to more than 70 million monthly users whether you’re at home or on the go.
You can use the web version of Pandora or go through its mobile app to access and stream your favorite content. The service is one of the largest streaming music providers and offers an industry-leading digital audio advertising platform, besides connecting you to your favorite audio entertainment.
Pandora allows you to create stations from your favorite artists, songs, genres, and browsers or search to find recommendations for stations that suit your activity or mood. You can also discover podcasts that speak to you.
The free version comes with ads but you can watch a short video and get a free trial of Pandora Premium comparable with what you pay for Spotify. This is quite different from Spotify because you can access high-res music for free unlike Spotify’s free version, which lacks high-res audio.
Deezer is a great alternative to Spotify that offers more than 50 million tracks that you can listen to for free. The service works best on a mobile device, but you can still fire it up on your browser though you’ll only hear song snippets.
The French company offers a well-rounded streaming music service that may not do anything revolutionary, but blends live radio, traditional streaming music, exclusive content, and podcasts that make Deezer worth considering.
You can download Deezer on any platform just as you would with Spotify and sign up or create an account from scratch or by using your Facebook or Google account.
Among the limitations in Deezer’s free version include the limited skips, no offline mode, and no lossless audio. Plus, the MP3 streams are compressed, and you only hear 30-second song snippets on non-mobile devices.
However, where Spotify lacks lyrics, Deezer offers partial lyrics so at least you get to sing along to your favorite tunes.
The free Deezer version is ad-supported, but you can always upgrade to the Premium plan and access unlimited song skips, unlimited listening on all devices, full lyrics, and offline listening.
Deezer also offers a family plan like Spotify, and a student plan for college students, all of which come with CD-quality music streaming. However, you can’t rewind radio stations and you can’t stream your MP3 files with Deezer’s mobile apps – that feature is only available for the web and desktop apps.
5. TIDAL Access
The Norwegian-based company Aspiro strives for high-quality audio in its lossless format through TIDAL. Recently announced was TIDAL Access, a free version of TIDAL which allows lossless high-quality music for free.
Unlike Spotify, TIDAL allows for individual song searching, curating, and shuffling of playlists. It also includes audio quality selection, so no matter which pair of headphones you have, you can enjoy your music and podcasts on any device.
However, as much as TIDAL Access is completely free, it’s only available in the United States compared to Spotify’s free version, which is accessible in multiple locations. Plus, with TIDAL Access, you can flip between channels but not be able to skip content.
You can curate channels featuring original content from the main TIDAL catalog and select on-demand content. TIDAL’s editorial team expertly programs the channels based on different genres and themes.
To enjoy all these benefits, though, you’ll need to download TIDAL and create an account, but you don’t have to give any billing information.
Amazon has had a go at providing a wide range of services including movies, TV, and premium shopping experiences. Amazon Music is one of its many services, which offers a large library of music, podcasts, and exclusive originals.
You’ll find a few ads here and there but, unlike Spotify, Amazon Music offers unlimited skips with free shuffling and a proper audio quality experience. The service brings new and updated podcasts every day as they widen their library so you can listen to more content for free.
Amazon Music is free, but if you’re a Prime member, you also get Amazon Music Prime for free, which increases your library and allows for higher quality audio. Also included in the package is access to Prime Books, Prime gaming with Twitch streaming, and much more.
However, you need to sign in for free to stream music on Amazon and access thousands of top playlists and stations. You don’t need to sign up with your credit card to access the content.
If you prefer a playlist stream, Jango is here to help. The app provides a large database of well-compiled playlists each distinguished by genre. Simply search for any artist or genre and start your journey down a deep rabbit hole.
Browsing playlists reveals over 800 curated individual genre playlists which, unlike Spotify, can be skipped. You may not be able to skip a particular song on the playlist, but you can create your own station based on your favorite artists and share it.
Jango is available everywhere, from an iOS app to an Android app and their website also avails its music platform extensively.
In terms of similarity, Jango is likened to Pandora, except there are fewer ads and a higher variety of music content. Plus, you can listen to hundreds of genre stations or create your own stations with your favorite content.
LiveXLive, formerly Slacker Radio, combines live music streams with a deep music well and knowledgeable DJs to produce entertaining and fun playlists. The free music streaming service offers excellently curated stations and fun playlists, informative DJs, intuitive design, and optional news updates.
Unlike Spotify, whose brand identity is clear and known across the countries its service is available in, LiveXLive has some branding confusion because of the Slacker name on all apps. Plus, both services don’t offer lyrics for their clients, especially with the free tiers, but you still get to stream music while online.
The free, basic plan allows you to stream a maximum bitrate of 128Kbps audio, just like Spotify’s desktop app, but with LiveXLive, you get to skip up to six songs per hour. Spotify doesn’t allow you to skip or shuffle songs in its free plan.
However, both platforms come with ads in their free plans, so you’d have to endure all the banner and audio ads in exchange.
A live panel-driven interface puts a lot of information on the LiveXLive homepage, along with daily recommended tracks, featured songs, news articles, playlists, and artists. If you have a Slacker Radio account, you can carry over your custom channels and playlists to LiveXLive.
Other features you’ll find in LiveXLive include live events, channels with live performances and music news updates, plus playlists associated with upcoming concerts.
Mixcloud offers a free playback streaming experience that allows you to play a show up to three times every two weeks. The free version is supported by ads and allows you to see tracklists as you listen but you can only seek forward.
You can explore and stream millions of radio shows, DJ mixes, and podcasts for free to satisfy every mood and taste in this audio-streaming platform. Plus, you can get Mixcloud on iOS or Android devices to keep track of your favorite shows, listen across devices, and build your playlists.
The free version also lets you upload unlimited audio shows, curate your own channels, and find and build a fan base. You also get to support creators and the music you love directly by subscribing to their individual channels.
You can access radio shows, long-length audios, music mixes, and create or favorite playlists for free. You don’t have to pay to access or download the app and although there’s no single music or album as you’d find on Spotify, you get a catalog of over three million mixes to enjoy.
10. Xbox Music
If you have a Windows device and want to listen to some free music, Xbox Music is worth considering. Unlike Spotify, whose free service has some limitations in terms of how you can access content and some playback controls, Xbox Music is completely free to use without limits.
The video and music streaming service from Microsoft offers free streaming but with ads, and has a massive 30 million track catalog with artist-based radio stations.
You can also find Xbox Music on mobile devices as you would with Spotify, but it goes beyond that and adds free streaming to its web player. The web player streaming is only available for Windows devices though.
AccuRadio is a free online music streaming service founded in 2000 and features multiple channels with options that let you customize your listening experience. The service is curated by human beings unlike others like Spotify that are curated by algorithms because there’s a difference that the human touch makes in the listening experience.
The online service has nearly 1000 channels in over 50 different music genres all curated by people who have the passion and knowledge for music.
Beyond the human curators’ touch, you can further personalize your experience using different features like rating songs, blending channels together, which you wouldn’t do with Spotify, and you can ban artists or titles that you don’t like.
You’re also welcome to skip as many songs as you want, unlike Spotify’s free version that limits you to a maximum of six songs. Plus, AccuRadio is completely free forever, so you won’t have to upgrade to a premium plan to access any special features, just lots of great music content.
12. TuneIn Radio
TuneIn Radio isn’t a pure music streaming service like Spotify but an internet radio aggregator that you can use on your mobile device or on the web. The free service is ad-supported, but you can always upgrade to the monthly subscription for an ad-free experience.
You get a wide range of content from big-name stations, including NPR, BBC Radio, C-SPAN, and All India Radio, as well as news from Fox News and a host of podcasts. You also get genre-specific and local radio stations in your area so there’s something for everyone, which Spotify lacks in this regard.
With the wide choice of radio apps in TuneIn Radio, you get the best of all worlds and hear what matters to you. Once you download the app, you can create a profile and access hits across genres like country roads, classic rock, smooth jazz, and more.
If you’re a fan of live radio, iHeartRadio is an excellent free Spotify alternative to add to your list. The service allows you to stream content online or from mobile apps on your Android or iOS device.
You can find local stations, listen to live radio stations from around the country, podcasts, custom radio stations, news, and playlists, which is quite a lot considering it’s free. Unlike Spotify, which requires you to sign up to use, iHeartRadio allows you to listen without creating an account, unless you want to save podcasts, stations, or playlists.
You can select an artist around whom to build your station or find a podcast. Ads are present on all platforms unless you pay for a monthly subscription.
The main downsides with iHeartRadio are that you can’t listen to music offline and you’re limited to the number of songs you can skip. You also can’t save songs from a radio station to a playlist.
ReverbNation is the best free music streaming alternative to Spotify for finding local artists. You can stream or download music using the website or mobile app, and join as a fan or artist depending on what you want to do on the site.
Once you sign in, you can find trending music, videos, featured collections, and then click to play the content instantly or download to save it, unlike Spotify that limits you to certain features unless you upgrade to premium plans.
You can also create and save playlists, follow artists and favorite music, discover shows and charts to keep up with upcoming artists or live events in your area. The main downside is that ReverbNation has a narrower selection of titles and artists compared to Spotify, and not all songs are downloadable.
Need to find popular music content? Last.fm has got it all. The music streaming service allows you to find, stream, and download music for free online.
You can find artists or tracks that are trending and explore what’s popular worldwide while listening to music based on genre or time period. The site allows you to select Charts or Music to browse top artists and music, categorize using tags or genres, and find anything you want from rap and country, to jazz, rock, electronic, and R&B.
Last.fm has a wide variety of music content, and you don’t have to create an account like Spotify requires you to do to stream or download music. However, Last.fm’s website isn’t as user-friendly, and not all music is free to stream or download as many links to YouTube videos instead of actual MP3 files.
Free music listening has its conveniences, but you may have to put up with annoying ads in some cases or endure limitations like the inability to shuffle or skip songs as you wish. Plus, you may not be able to enjoy the sweet sounds that high-resolution audio offers.
Ultimately, you get to satisfy your need for listening to music as you commute, work, exercise, play, or relax so it’s not too bad considering you get to save money in the process.
Any of these 15 free Spotify alternatives will get you your favorite tunes, or if not, you’ll still get to listen to your favorite genres and enjoy a good listening experience.