Music Streaming Pricing Analysis

How are the mainstream music streaming services competing on price?

Note: Post updated with Tidal details, scroll to the bottom to see these.

A year ago I ditched Apple Music for Spotify and have been happy with it’s interface and great integration with SONOS and Chromecasts since. So, it was a no-brainer a few months ago to upgrade to Premium Family and move everyone over there and collectively save some 💰. One thing I hadn’t done though is looked at the costs of all the other services and compared before signing up. So, belatedly for me but hopefully on time for you, let’s look at how Youtube Music, Deezer, Apple Music and Spotify stack up. 

Before I start, there is no comparison of the music libraries, number of songs, app compatibility, months of free listening or other features claimed by each service. All I’m considering here is cost.

All the Prices on one Table (@ 24/10/2020)

In each row, the green block is the cheapest:

References: YouTube MusicDeezerApple MusicSpotify

Firstly, let’s talk cheapest overall per person per month (pppm). Apple Music is the cheapest at R15pppm followed closely by Spotify at ±R16.67pppm. This requires you to use Apple Music Family (R90pm) or Spotify Premium Family (R100pm) and split them across 6 people, the maximum allowed on these family plans.

For a single account, choose any of the 4.

For students, YouTube Music and Apple Music offer dedicated plans for students at a significant 50% discount to the individual plans.

For a duo, Spotify is cheapest thanks to a dedicated Duo plan designed for 2 people.

For more than 2, the prices are either identical or so close when divided as to not really matter which you choose (under R3 difference pppm).

These guys should get a Spotify Duo subscription and another set of headphones and another phone.

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash


It seems like the mainstream streaming audio market has converged on near-identical price points and account options. This means that differentiating factors must now be found within in the individual offerings. Third party integrations, premium podcasts, device OS (Android/iOS/Windows/macOS/Web) integrations, where your friends are and the app interface will determine the provider you choose.

Since all offer at least a month of free premium listening, why not sign up for all and then choose one best for you!

If you have any questions/would like to share your experience with streaming music services please leave a reply below. If you want to be notified when a new post is published, click here. Thanks for reading!

Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

(Featured image remixed from this photo by Elice Moore on Unsplash)

Hey Kavi, why didn’t you add Tidal? a paraphrased version of a Whatsapp message I received earlier. The reason I had left out Tidal before was that it was expensive, not really mainstream and not billed in Rands. That being said, if you want to step up past the sound quality of the above services, that’s what Tidal Hifi is for.

Reference: Tidal – prices converted at R16.20/USD on 24/10/2020

Tidal Premium has similar sound quality (±320kbps) to the above services just at a huge price premium thanks to it being billed in USD vs the lower ZAR pricing of the above services. Pointless to choose this option in SA.

Tidal Hifi gives you the highest levels of sound quality with an equally high price. If you’re even considering this option, you already know why!

Adding Tidal should now properly round this analysis off! Once again, thanks for reading!


2 thoughts on “Music Streaming Pricing Analysis

Add yours

  1. Hey Kav,

    How does Spotify and Apple Music match up in terms of sound quality?

    I’ve struggled to find any kind of music quality setting for Spotify but I know you have that option for Apple Music.

    1. Hey Frank,

      Since Apple Music (AM) doesn’t specify the bitrate used [1], it’s hard to specify with numbers which provides better sound quality. I would guess that they are comparable but it appears AM edges Spotify in subjective sound quality [1]. Best would be to trial AM and do the comparison yourself!

      To change Spotify audio quality on mobile, tap Home > Settings Cog > Audio Quality [2]


      [1] –
      [2] –

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