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 nearly 18 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, Microsoft and Apple. Napster is still going, and Deezer has been around for a bit. Jay-Z’s Tidal promises high quality and exclusives – but at a price, while Amazon Music Unlimited is the newest kid on the block.
My top tip for saving was to get the student discount with Spotify via a sneaky NUS card trick – but that loophole has been stopped by Spotify, meaning I need to find a different way to save.
Here are my six top tips and tricks to help you save money when streaming music.
1. Get a year and a half 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 Google and Microsoft at the time of writing.
As long as you remember to cancel before the free trial is up it won’t cost you a thing.
Most of the free trials are one time only, but Amazon Prime Music lets you try for one month every 12 months. You’ll also benefit from film and TV streaming and free next day delivery.
Latest music streaming free trials
Pros: You can get 18 months of advert free music (if you repeat the Amazon Prime Music trial after 12 months)
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. 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!
3. 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.
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.
4. 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, or half price premium for three months. Google Chromecast owners can often get can extended trials of Google Play, while Three customers were last week able to pick up Deezer half price for a year.
Amazon Music Unlimited trick – get it for £6.58 a month
However the best one which I’m considering is to take advantage of a special Amazon Prime annual plan. If you are a Prime member you can pick up Amazon Music Unlimited for an extra £79 a year. That works out as £6.58 – far cheaper than any of the other options. But if you’re not interested in paying for Amazon Prime then you can still get this offer if you sign up for the 30-day free trial!
Even if you’ve had the trial, you can sign up again after 12 months, or just pay £7.99 for one month of the service. Or there’s the NUS card trick to get you six months free and then pay just £39 a year after that.
If I find more decent offers, I’ll list them in my Music Deals page.
5. Watch for auto renewals
If you’ve got a free trial it’s easy to forget that when it ends you’ll automatically be charged the full price. Likewise, if you’re paying, the same will happen each month – even if you’re not using it.
The best thing to do is 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!
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.