Remember that time you really wanted to listen to the Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” but when you tried to find it on Spotify, it wasn’t there? Well, I do.

It took me a while to jump on the Spotify bandwagon until one day, I decided it was about time to sign up for the student subscription. I don’t regret my decision because on most occasions, Spotify has a plethora of songs I want to hear. There are, however, those times when I’m trying to find a song and Spotify doesn’t have the rights to it. This is when I’m reminded of how many music streaming platforms exist today. So how do you know which one’s the best? While I remain partial to Spotify, after experimenting with a few services, I’ve listed the top five music streaming services for the economically-conscious college student.


1. Pandora
You can never go wrong with Pandora. I know it doesn’t have every song ever produced, but its catalog spans over a million songs with a wide variety of genres and artists. It allows you to choose different radio stations filled with great songs for any time of the day. Even better, if you like a station or a specific song, you have the option to favorite it for the future. I think Pandora deserves to be No. 1 because it has the best free membership of the platforms that offer premium subscriptions. Although there are commercials and you are only able to skip six songs per hour, Pandora consistently has better music on their free stations than most other services. If you’d like full access to the platform, you can become a Pandora One member for $4.99 a month.

Spotify appeals to students looking for a premium music streaming membership with its special half-off discount. PHOTO VIA FREE STOCKS.

Spotify appeals to students looking for a premium music streaming membership with its special half-off discount. PHOTO COURTESY FREE STOCKS.

2. Spotify

It’s a close second, but it’s true. While I’m partial to the service, I’ve highly enjoyed my experience as a premium student member for only $4.99 a month. Before I splurged, I used the free subscription. While the accessibility is similar to Pandora for free, I would frequently find myself skipping more songs on Spotify than Pandora. Spotify is No. 2 because this is a great music service but only after you pay. If you’re looking to be the most cost-efficient, you need a free streaming service. If you’re willing to splurge a little, Spotify is the platform for you.

3. TIDAL
I haven’t used TIDAL, but people rave about it, especially because you’ll find Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” which we can all agree is crucial. The main issue with TIDAL is the cost. Its music catalogue is the same size as Spotify’s, but only after you pay $9.99 a month (or $19.99 for better quality). Once you pay, however, the service offers video and the ability for artists to connect with their fans, a feature you won’t find on either Pandora or Spotify.

4. SoundCloud
I’ve used the platform a few times before. While there is a lot of great music, it’s the most difficult service to use. A lot of the music you find on SoundCloud comes from aspiring artists who have the ability to share their work. On the platform, there’s a free limited-access version and a $9.99 full-access monthly subscription. This platform is really great for individuals looking to regularly discover new music, but it doesn’t get you to “Today’s Top Hits” as quickly as other services.

5. Apple Music
Last but not least is the grandfather of all things. Unfortunately for Apple Music, it’s frequently overlooked because of the multitude of music streaming services. Apple Music is a perfectly good service, but it’s the last one I would choose. You can listen for free, but you’ll have very limited access to music. For full access, you can pay $9.99 a month, but only your device is granted the subscription. I find the service limiting, and for a catalog of 30 million songs, it doesn’t have the same breadth as the other services.

If you’re anything like me, you take your music seriously, and it’s important to constantly be hearing new music. It’s something I listen to on a daily basis as I walk to class, do my homework and hang out with friends, so finding the right music service is crucial. Happy listening!