Unless you’re a vinyl aficionado, the smart money when listening to music is to stream it online. Use the different sites and services cleverly and you can listen for free for 12 months.
A few years ago I sold half my CD collection. Now I wish I’d sold it all.
Bit by bit my music listening has moved online, and now much of it is via a streaming service. As technology keeps improving it’s far easier to stream a playlist to a Bluetooth speaker using my phone as a remote control than use an old hi-fi.
The biggest player is Spotify, followed by services from Google, Amazon and Apple. Napster is amazingly still going, and Deezer has been around for a bit. Jay-Z’s Tidal promises high quality and exclusives.
So lots of choice, and the one you use is probably the one you first signed up to and have saved playlists etc. But with each of these coming in at around £10 a mark for versions where you can download tunes and skip adverts, it means we’re easily slashing out £120 a year.
But you can bring the price down. Here are my six top tips and tricks to help you save money when streaming music.
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1. Get a year of free music streaming with free trials
You can get a year and a half of advert-less music streaming for nothing!
Most of the music services offer a free trial. As standard you can get 30 days with Spotify, Google Play, Tidal, Deezer, Napster, Groove Music or Amazon Prime Music, and 90 days with Apple Music. But most of them offer extended deals, such as Spotify at the time of writing which is offering 90-days.
So do each of these and you won’t pay at all in your first year. Just remember to cancel before the free trial is up. Most of the free trials are one time only.
Latest music streaming free trials
Pros: You can get 12 months of advert free music
Cons: Not all the services let you import playlists. Not all the services have the same artists – Amazon Prime Music in particular is far smaller, though there is still plenty of choice. It can be hassle to keep switching.
2. Get a family plan
If there’s more than one of you in your household using a streaming service then a family plan will save you cash. They tend to cost £15 a month, so for two people you’re saving £5 a month, but since many allow up to five or six users it can be a lot lower per person.
This is what Becky and I have with Spotify and it’s easy for us to share playlists between us.
Pros: You save money. You can all listen to different songs at the same time.
Cons: The bills all go to the main user, so you’ll need to make sure friends and family pay you back if that’s the agreement. Otherwise you’ll be paying £5 more every month than having your own subscription.
3. Take advantage of music streaming special offers
From time to time you can get cheaper subscriptions. Recently I’ve seen 90 days of Spotify or Deezer for £1, and 20% off a year of Spotify Premium. I generally share the best offers over on my music deals page.
Amazon Music Unlimited trick – get it for £6.58 a month
Amazon Prime members can take advantage of a special discount. Rather than pay £9.99 a month, you can get Amazon Music Unlimited for £7.99 a month.
Or, even better, you can pick up an annual plan for an extra £79 a year saving an extra £16.88 year. That works out as £6.58 a month – far cheaper than any of the other options.
And if you’re not interested in paying for Amazon Prime then you can still get this offer. All you need to do is sign up for the 30-day free Prime trial. Then select the annual plan for Music Unlimited, before cancelling your Prime membership.
There’s a similar discount on the annual Family Plan, and you until mid-June you can pick up an Echo Dot speaker for 99p if you pay for a month of this plan.
4. Watch for auto-renewals
As with any subscription, you’ll keep paying whether you use the service or not. So if you’re on a free trial or are just a casual listener, it’s best to cancel as soon as you start the free trial or pay for a month.
It will only take a few minutes to do it, and if you want to carry on the next month, a couple of minutes again.
Pros: You don’t pay £10 a month for a service you don’t use.
Cons: You need to remember to do it!
5. Put up with the adverts
I’m pretty happy to have the odd advert play when I’m streaming music. They don’t get played too often and are far less annoying than the ones you get on commercial radio.
The main way to get ad-supported free music streaming is Spotify, but Deezer also has an option.
Pros: Completely free music streaming.
Cons: You can’t take the music offline. Mobile and tablet functions are limited. The adverts get repetitive!
6. Tune into internet radio stations
Another free option is streaming internet radio. You can listen to your normal radio station or you can let clever programmes decide the songs played based upon your previous listening choices.
Even though I’ve got Spotify Premium I do tend to listen to BBC6 Music during the day – and there are hundreds of stations to suit your musical tastes.
Pros: It doesn’t cost anything. You’ll discover new music. You can time shift and download your favourite shows.
Cons: You can’t choose the songs you’ll listen to.