Which music app is best without premium?

With the rise in popularity of music streaming services, there are now many options for accessing free music online. Free music apps allow you to listen to music on-demand without paying a subscription fee. While they offer limited features compared to paid plans, free music apps provide an easy and convenient way to enjoy music.

The major benefits of using a free music app include access to millions of songs, personalized playlists and stations, and the ability to discover new artists. They provide a legal alternative to pirating music online. Free users can still enjoy many features of paid services, such as ad-supported radio streaming.

However, free music apps have some downsides. They include frequent advertising interruptions, shuffle-only playback, and lower audio quality. Users cannot download songs for offline listening or listen on-demand to specific songs. But for casual listeners looking for background music, free music apps offer a good value.

In this article, we compare the top free music apps available today – YouTube Music, Spotify Free, Amazon Music, Pandora, SoundCloud, and Tidal. We look at the features, content libraries, and limitations of each to determine the best option for those wanting free, legal access to streaming music.

YouTube Music

YouTube Music has a clean and intuitive interface that mimics the regular YouTube app (Android Authority). The home page displays recommendations based on listening history and trending songs. Users can easily switch between music videos and songs using tabs. The library has over 80 million official songs, remixes, live performances and music videos (Android Authority). However, the library lacks some indie artists and new releases compared to Spotify. A major downside is frequent video ads that interrupt listening (Android Authority). YouTube Premium ($9.99/month) removes ads. Offline listening is available for Premium subscribers. Users can download up to 500 songs for offline listening (Android Authority). Playlists are easy to create and YouTube Auto-generates playlists like Discover Mix and My Supermix. There are also endless autogenerated playlists based on genre, mood, activity, and decade. YouTube Music also has radio stations based on artists, genres or activities.

Spotify Free

Spotify’s free tier provides access to Spotify’s full music catalog and playlists, but with some limitations. Audio quality is restricted to 160kbps, which may not satisfy audiophiles looking for lossless quality (Source). The free version only allows shuffle play mode, so you can’t pick specific songs to play (Source). Advertisements play frequently, interrupting listening approximately every 15 minutes. Offline listening and downloading is not available in the free tier. Playlists are capped at 500 songs for free users, whereas premium has no restrictions. Overall, Spotify Free provides a good free option but with restrictions around quality, ad frequency, and limited controls.

Amazon Music

Amazon Music offers access to over 90 million songs and thousands of playlists and stations for free (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GW3PHAUCZM8L7W9L). For Prime members, Amazon Music Unlimited provides unlimited access to over 90 million songs and videos ad-free, including new releases. Prime members get access to Amazon Music Unlimited at a discounted price of $7.99 per month (https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/amazon-music-unlimited).

Amazon Music Unlimited has an extensive catalog of over 90 million songs, with frequent new releases from popular artists (https://www.macsome.com/news/pros-and-cons-of-amazon-music-unlimited.html). Users can download songs for offline listening across Android, iOS, Fire OS, and desktop apps. However, the free, ad-supported tier of Amazon Music only provides limited on-demand playback without the ability to select specific songs.

Amazon Music is available across Amazon Echo devices, Fire TV, Fire tablets, iOS, Android, and PC/Mac. However, it doesn’t officially support Google Home or Chromecast devices. While free users have to listen to ads, Amazon Music Unlimited provides an ad-free experience for subscribers.

Overall, Amazon Music Unlimited provides Prime members with ad-free access to a extensive music catalog at a discounted price. The ability to download songs for offline listening across Amazon devices is a key benefit.


Pandora has been a popular internet radio service since 2000 (source). The free version of Pandora offers users the ability to create customized radio stations based on artists, songs, or genres they enjoy. Some key features of the free Pandora plan include:

– Station variety – Users can create up to 100 customizable stations from a catalog of over 2 million songs. The Music Genome Project helps analyze songs based on their musical attributes to generate personalized stations (source).

– Ad frequency – Free users hear audio ads approximately every 12-15 minutes. Users cannot skip audio ads.

– Skips allowed – Free users get 6 skips per station per hour. After reaching the skip limit, users cannot skip songs for the rest of the hour.

– Offline listening – Downloading music for offline listening is not available for free users.

– Customization options – Free users can thumbs up/down songs to customize stations, but have limited controls compared to paid subscribers. Advanced features like unlimited skips and replay are only for paid users.


SoundCloud is one of the top free streaming services for those looking to discover emerging and indie artists. It has an extensive catalog of over 200 million tracks from rising talents in genres like electronic, hip hop, and alternative music. One of SoundCloud’s biggest perks is the ability to stream songs in high-quality audio, matching Spotify with a bitrate of up to 320 kbps on mobile. This makes it a great option for audiophiles who want crisp, CD-quality sound without paying a premium.

In terms of customization, SoundCloud allows you to follow specific artists and create playlists tailored to your tastes. Its homepage also features a personalized feed based on who you follow, so you can stay updated on new releases from undiscovered musicians. While the free version does have ads, they are minimal compared to other services – around 1 ad every couple of songs. There is no offline listening mode, but unlimited skips and the ability to select any song make up for this drawback.

Overall, SoundCloud shines for its focus on underground and rising talent. The audio quality rivals premium services, and you get greater control over custom playlists. If you want to discover new music and support independent artists, SoundCloud is a superb free option worth considering.


Tidal is a music streaming service created by Norwegian company Aspiro AB. It offers two premium subscription plans that give access to high quality audio – Tidal HiFi ($19.99/month) and Tidal HiFi Plus ($29.99/month). However, Tidal does offer a free ad-supported tier as well. Here are some key pros and cons of Tidal’s free service:

The free tier provides access to Tidal’s full catalog of over 70 million tracks and 250,000 videos. However, audio quality is limited to 160kbps rather than lossless quality offered on premium tiers. There is also a limit on track skips and offline listening is not available (SoundGuys).

Ads play every few songs for users of the free tier. However, the ad frequency is less compared to other free services like Spotify or Pandora (Musconv).

Tidal Free is supported on all major platforms including iOS, Android, desktop apps, and web player. However, offline listening is only available to paying subscribers.

Overall, Tidal Free provides a solid music streaming option with a large catalog and support across devices. But limited audio quality and lack of offline listening may be drawbacks for some users.


When looking at the available options, here is how the top free music streaming services compare across key features:

Service Song Catalog Stream Quality Ads Offline Play Platform Support
Spotify Free Full catalog Up to 160kbps Yes No Mobile, desktop, web, smart speakers, TVs, gaming consoles
YouTube Music Full catalog Up to 256kbps Yes Yes Mobile, desktop, web
Amazon Music 2 million songs Up to 256kbps Yes Yes Mobile, desktop, web, smart speakers
Pandora Limited catalog 64-192kbps Yes Yes Mobile, web
SoundCloud Full catalog 128kbps Yes No Mobile, desktop, web

Overall, Spotify offers the most robust platform and full catalog but with audio quality and feature limitations on its free tier. YouTube Music provides better quality and offline downloads but lacks Spotify’s platform reach. Amazon Music and Pandora offer ad-supported tiers but more limited catalogs and quality. SoundCloud trails in quality and platform support but hosts much user-generated content.


When considering the best free music app without premium, a few options stand out for different reasons:

Best App for Customization

Spotify Free is likely the best option if you want to customize your experience. You can follow artists to be notified of new releases, create endless playlists, and Spotify’s algorithm will suggest music based on your listening habits. The Spotify Free mobile app also lets you download playlists for offline listening.

Best App for Audio Quality

Tidal offers the best audio quality of any free music app. While limited to standard quality on mobile, you can stream lossless CD-quality audio on desktop. So if audio fidelity is your priority, Tidal is the service to use.

Best Overall Free Option

For most users, Spotify Free is the best free music app overall. The catalogue has over 60 million tracks, you get personalized recommendations, can create playlists, listen offline, and experience a full-featured app. Limitations include audio quality, skip limits, and ads. But Spotify Free still provides an excellent free listening experience.


In summary, each of the major free music streaming apps have their pros and cons. YouTube Music provides access to official music videos and covers. Spotify Free has the largest music catalog and social features. Amazon Music includes ad-free stations and podcasts. Pandora is great for radio-style listening and music discovery. SoundCloud showcases emerging and independent artists. Tidal has high quality audio.

There is no definitive “best” free music app. The ideal option depends on your specific listening preferences and needs. It’s worth experimenting with different services to find the one that fits your taste in music and desired features.

While free streaming meets basic needs, upgrading to a paid premium subscription unlocks additional benefits like ad-free listening, unlimited skips, offline downloads, and higher audio quality. Premium plans remove most limitations of free versions. If you listen to music regularly, a paid subscription can provide much greater convenience and value.

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