To make it easier to decide, all services offer a free trial; Spotify has a free version of the service but you may need to get an invitation to use the service for free. If you are uncertain which service will work best for you, take advantage of the free trial. Free trials are either 14 or 30 days, after which your credit card is automatically charged. If you decide against a service, be sure to cancel before the free trial ends.
During the free trial period, be sure to try out the service's unique features. If you never thought of sharing music, check out what your friends are sharing and give it a try. Listen to playlists you might not have thought were your type, play with preferences and drag music to playlists. Sync at least a partial list of your music library, if that's available, to play along with the songs in the services catalog. By sampling the services, you can see if you will use those features in the future.
Comparing Rhapsody, Qriocity, MOG and Spotify
Rhapsody was one of the first to offer a subscription music streaming service and has been solid for more than 10 years. It has one of the largest music catalogs with a massive number of expertly curated playlists. Rhapsody offers suggestions of albums based on the music you have been playing. This convenient feature helps you find new music you might like. Rhapsody does not have an "automix" feature based on songs, but it does allow you to create a Rhapsody Radio station based on an artist.
Qriocity Music Unlimited was launched in 2011. It is a Sony Music company and initially plays on Sony products — Bravia TVs, the PS3, PSP and on Android phones. It is very easy to use with playlists (Sony calls "channels") for eras, genres and moods of music. If you have a PC, Qriocity will find the music on your computer and sync it by finding your songs in the Qriocity library without the need to upload your music.
MOG was founded by a former Gracenote CEO and launched as a subscription streaming service in December 2009. MOG's specialty is how easily you can search for songs and choose to play them directly from the search results. You can search for a song or artist in all of the playlists that users have chosen to share. MOG's other specialty feature is its customizable radio station: Choose a song, album or artist and create a "radio station." The radio station can have as little or as much variety as you'd like — from listening to songs from that artist only, to adding a variety of artists. A simple slider lets you increase or decrease how many other artists are included in the radio station. MOG places an emphasis on sharing its user's playlists. You can easily find out who your favorite celebrity or singer is listening to, or browse through other users’ featured playlists.
Spotify, a popular European music streaming site, came to the U.S. in the summer of 2011. Spotify uses Facebook to enable you to share your music and playlists with your friends by simply dragging onto your friend in the Facebook list. It instantly finds music on your computer and adds it to your Spotify library to play or use in playlists.
Choosing the Best Service for You
By now, you should have considered what you want from a music streaming service — where you want to listen to music and how much you are willing to pay. Here is a cheat sheet of which services are best for each feature.
Which service is best for:
- Radio/mixes - MOG and Qriocity. These services allow you to create radio stations of music similar to a song or artist you like. MOG has the easiest and best customization by far.
- Pre-made Playlists - Qriocity has the easiest-to-find playlists based on mood, genre or era. Rhapsody and Napster have lists of genres — Rock, Pop, Blues and more. Each genre has a variety of sub genres, some simple and some eclectic and obscure.
- Sharing/Social - Spotify is the hands-down winner here. Simply drag and drop songs or playlists to share with Facebook friends. MOG promotes sharing of MOG subscribers' public playlists and their most played songs giving each subscriber a customizable profile page. It's like a Facebook page for MOG.
- New Releases - MOG and Rhapsody email you with new additions. Spotify's new releases are minimal in comparison.
- Syncing music library with songs on your computer - Spotify works with iTunes and Windows Media Player, allowing you to add music with a drag and drop when you are ready to play it. Qriocity has a music sync feature for PCs that will find your songs in its catalog.
- Playing music offline - Rhapsody, Spotify and MOG allow you to download songs and/or playlists to listen to offline for as long as your subscription is current.
- Plays on iPhone - Rhapsody, Spotify, MOG
- Plays on Android - All
- Plays on Network TVs, Network Media Players - Rhapsody, MOG, Qriocity (Sony Bravia Only)