For some people, Spotify is just the green button on their phone that lets them listen to music. But for others, it’s the focal point of a larger conversation about how platforms can shape our culture and the role they should play in tackling misinformation.
This conversation recently came to a head when musician Neil Young demanded that Spotify remove his music because the service was “spreading false information about vaccines”, through provocative interviews and statements by podcaster Joe Rogan. Shortly after, Joni Mitchell asked Spotify to remove all of her music, while researcher Brené Brown said she would stop posting episodes of her Spotify-exclusive podcasts “until further notice”.
The backlash against Spotify has also inspired some users of the service to jump ship, although the company isn’t making it easy.
Spotify’s massive reach – as of last October it had more than 380 million users – meant it could turn popular podcasts like “Heavyweight” and “Armchair Expert” into exclusive properties. Entire social communities have sprung up around the Spotify playlists that some people have created, which some might be hesitant to give up. And let’s not forget that Spotify doesn’t offer any tools to help you migrate your neatly curated music collection elsewhere. But if you decide to ditch Spotify for whatever reason, switching may be easier than you think.
Here’s our guide to other streaming options you might want to consider and what difficulty they should start with.
Price: $9.99/month for individuals; $14.99 for families
If you regularly use Apple products, Apple Music is perhaps the obvious choice – the service comes preloaded on almost all of them. In addition to its comprehensive music library, you can sync up to 100,000 of your own songs (i.e. the ones you haven’t paid Apple for) across your collection of Apple devices.
And while audiophiles generally turn their noses up at streaming services, nearly all of the music we’ve searched for on Apple Music is available in better “lossless” quality at no extra cost. Granted, none of Apple’s wireless headphones or earphones – including the pricey AirPods Max – technically support it, but it’s a nice perk for people who are obsessed with their music.
Just a warning: Apple Music’s voice plan costs half the price of a standard subscription, but it probably doesn’t make sense as a music-only plan.
And the podcasts? Most of them live in Apple’s Podcasts app, which is separate from the company’s main music app. Apple’s podcast content guidelines state that the company does not allow “content that may cause harmful or dangerous results” and that the company may “label” – or in some cases, remove altogether – podcasts that contain “harmful or objectionable content that is disputed by authoritative sources.
Amazon Music Unlimited
Price: $9.99/month (or $7.99/month for Prime subscribers); $14.99/month for families
Amazon’s all-you-can-eat music streaming service ticks a few of the same boxes as Apple Music: it supports high-definition audio for improved sound quality (assuming you have the speakers to enjoy it), and it works elegantly across all products of the company’s smart home. Unless you’re an Alexa and Echo speaker fanatic, there’s only one reason you should choose this option over the rest: you get a slight discount on Music Unlimited if you pay already for Amazon Prime.
(Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
And the podcasts? Amazon says its music service includes “more than 10 million” podcast episodes. While the company’s podcast terms of service don’t specifically mention misinformation, they do prevent podcasters from including “content that we believe is inappropriate or offensive.”
Price: It is complicated.
Tide tried to stand out by focusing on high quality sound; a pity that its competitors have caught up with it. These days, the company — now controlled by Twitter and Block founder Jack Dorsey — is trying to play up its presence as a music service for serious music fans.
Tidal’s plans are a little more complicated than others we’ve seen: $9.99 a month gives one person full, ad-free access to the company’s 80 million-track music library at what Tidal calls it “HiFi Sound Quality,” while $14.99 a month gives those same privileges to five more people.
Meanwhile, $19.99 a month opens the door to Tidal’s HiFi Plus plan, which offers ultra-high quality audio and artist-focused perks like direct payments and a new program called the fans” which will be launched this year. And if you really wanted to, you could pay $29.99 a month to make it a family plan that (again) includes five additional people.
And the podcasts? You won’t find too many podcasts on Tidal, and the ones you’ll see are series focused on the music culture that Tidal helped create.
Price: $9.99/month for individuals; $14.99/month per person for high-fidelity audio; $14.99/month for families in regular quality
Deezer is not part of a huge tech conglomerate, nor was it concocted by a few Silicon Valley founders. (The service was originally developed by French entrepreneur Daniel Marhely in the mid-2000s.) This lack of establishment ties could make Deezer an attractive option for people who don’t want to deepen their relationship with Big Tech.
And the podcasts? Podcasts are a big part of Deezer’s service, and the company allows media networks and independent podcasters to submit their work for distribution on the platform. The company’s terms of service require that content submitted by podcasters not be illegal, obscene, or “otherwise objectionable,” but it doesn’t specifically address misinformation.
Move your stuff
Now that you might have a better idea of which music service you want to switch to, it’s time to figure out how to move your organized music collection away from Spotify.
If you don’t have a lot of saved music, it might not be too difficult to manually recreate your collection of playlists and liked songs in other services. Meanwhile, a cottage industry of companies transferring music collections from one streaming service to another will let you carry a certain number of tracks for free.
A service we tried, TuneMyMusic, allows you to transfer 500 tracks between all the services mentioned above for free. The problem? If you prefer to transfer a larger music collection at once, it will cost you $4.50 per month to “convert” your entire library at once. (That is, unless you’ve decided to switch to Deezer — in which case, TuneMyMusic will transfer all your music for free.)
If 500 tracks is just the start of what you’ve saved in Spotify, it’s worth paying $4.50 to have TuneMyMusic do it all for you – just be sure to cancel the subscription once you’re done. don’t need it anymore. (Pro tip: This could be a good opportunity to use a burner card, which you can override remotely just to make sure you’re not being charged regularly.)
Another service, Soundiiz, lets you transfer your playlists from Spotify to a host of other music services for free, assuming you’re willing to transfer them one by one. Removing this limitation – along with transferring your entire collection of albums and individual recorded tracks – costs $4.50 per month, as does TuneMyMusic. Our advice: Take some time to play around with Soundiiz’s playlist transfer tool. It’s not as simple as TuneMyMusic, but you should be able to move a good chunk of your collection before you have to make the decision to pay more.