Best Spotify alternatives: Music streaming platforms to consider in 2024

Jumping ship from Spotify? We couldn’t possibly imagine why, but if you are, we’ve rounded up eight streaming services that offer something a little different.

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Woman listening to music with headphones in a city, photo by Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Image: Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

We’d all love to be vinyl aficionados and Walkman fanatics but, for better or for worse, the most popular way people consume music is on streaming platforms. But which ones are the best?

The leading streaming platform in 2024, with over 350 million users and 150 million subscribers and counting, is Spotify. And while Spotify does, of course, have brilliant features — a vast, evolving library of music and podcasts, accurate music suggestion tools, Spotify Wrapped and even an AI DJ — its average royalty rate of $0.004 per stream, frequent layoffs, and CEO blunders has caused people to look at what else is on offer.

Spotify, it’s important to remember, is just one streaming service, and there are plenty to choose from. Each major platform has differences that set them apart and might tempt you into switching. You might not align with Spotify’s ethics. You might want to connect better with your favourite artists. You might just be bored of consuming music in the same way. Whatever the reason, we’ve examined and compared the differences between alternative streaming platforms for you, and can introduce you to some lesser-known services that offer unique benefits.

The best Spotify alternatives at a glance:

  • Nina
  • Bandcamp
  • Apple Music
  • sonu.stream
  • Qobuz
  • Tidal
  • SoundCloud
  • Beatport
  • Marine Snow

Nina – Best platform for artist royalties

Nina protocol, GUI
ninaprotocol.com

Nina is a refreshing open-source music streaming platform and store for devoted lovers of music, donning the bold slogan, ‘100% MUSIC’. In its own words, it’s “the only platform and toolkit for independent music designed to give artists total freedom and ownership of their work”. When artists upload their music to the site, they pay a one-time transaction fee. After this, Nina takes itself out of the picture, offering full control of their output and 100 per cent of royalties, taking no fee itself. It also hosts a ton of intriguing editorial content, if you’re looking to dig deeper into a scene you just stumbled across.

While the music on Nina was once only purchasable with a Solana wallet, after a rigorous second update in November 2023, traditional forms of payment are now accepted. The v2 update also introduced uploads of multi-track releases and a discovery feed.

  • Artist royalty payout rate: artists/labels receive 100% of royalties
  • Subscription price: None
  • Audio fidelity: MP3, WAV
  • Key features:
    • Open-source platform
    • Earn 100% of royalties
    • Flexible control over parameters
    • Discovery feed
    • Playlisting and editorial features

Find out more on Nina Protocol.

Bandcamp – Best for underground music discovery

Bandcamp application on a smartphone, photo by Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Bandcamp application on a smartphone. Image: Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It sounds obvious, and some might say old-school, but trust us: if you love music and can afford to do so, buy it. It’s singlehandedly the biggest way to support artists in 2024.

Bandcamp is an online music store and haven for independent artists, partly thanks to its Bandcamp Friday scheme, where artists, once a month, receive 100 per cent of royalties for their music. It’s not just a site for buying music, though: you can stream tracks online or from its app (by default, you can only stream a song in full up to three times unless you’ve bought it). The radio shows are also excellent — we only wish there were more of them.

Bandcamp also has a keen focus on new music discovery, with a fantastic regularly updated editorial section highlighting new, exciting music. The home page even includes a real-time carousel showing what releases are being purchased globally, potentially inspiring you to find music you would have never heard of.

  • Artist royalty payout rate: On average, 82% of each purchase goes to the artist/label
  • Subscription price: None
  • Audio fidelity: MP3, WAV, AIFF
  • Key features:
    • Artist-focussed, DIY user experience
    • 100% of revenue goes to artist/label on Bandcamp Fridays
    • New music discovery features
    • Quality editorial section

Find out more at Bandcamp.

Apple Music – Best for spatial audio and radio shows

Right up there as one of the most-used music streaming services in 2024, Apple Music, though not perfect, is a strong alternative to Spotify, thanks to its royalty rate – $0.01 compared to Spotify’s $0.003 – $0.005 – and better audio quality. It prides itself on lossless audio and spatial audio, supported by Dolby Atmos, even teaming up with Boiler Room to offer exclusive immersive live DJ sets. Many users also praise Apple Music for its intuitive playlisting and library-organising features.

At $11 per month, you get a vast catalogue of music that rivals all other major platforms. You also get access to all of Apple Music’s exclusive — and often excellent — podcasts and radio shows, such as The Zane Lowe Show and Tim Sweeney’s Beats In Space.

  • Artist royalty payout rate: $0.01 per stream
  • Subscription price: None
  • Audio fidelity: AAC (256 kbps), ALAC up to 24-bit/192 kHz, Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos
  • Key features:
    • Exclusive Apple content
    • Better royalty rate than Spotify
    • Lossless and immersive audio
    • 100m+ songs
    • Ad-free

Find out more on Apple Music.

sonu.stream – Best for Web3 users

sonu.stream, photo by sonu.stream
sonu.stream. Image: sonu.stream

Co-founded by Laura Jaramillo and producer TOKiMONSTA, sonu.stream uses Web3 technology, utilising blockchain to ensure fair compensation for its artists. Like Marine Snow, sonu.stream‘s not fully released to the world, but we recently spoke to its founders, who gave us a bit more information about the upcoming streaming service.

In our chat, Jaramillo emphasised the platform’s unique Web3 model, saying, “It allows you to create a strong foundation that decentralizes the permission for AI-generated music…People are disappointed in these giants and they see sonu.stream as an opportunity for change.”

Features:

  • Artist royalty payout rate: N/A
  • Subscription prices: N/A
  • Audio fidelity: N/A
  • Standout features:
    • Web3-powered streaming
    • sonu auctions
    • Protocol-generated rewards
    • No ownership transfer of music rights; artists retain full control
    • Biweekly streaming royalties payout

Find out more on sonu.stream.

Qobuz – Best for community

A user using Qobuz on a desktop
A user using Qobuz on a desktop

Qobuz is a serious contender to Spotify if you’re a passionate music fan seeking the feel of a record store when finding new music. It’s a premium music streaming service – leaning more into jazz and classical territories – that prides itself on high-fidelity audio listening, exclusive editorial content, and Qobuz Club. The latter is a social media-style platform where users can discuss and share music.

It’s not just a music streaming website – Qobuz is also a store with purchasable or downloadable high-res digital files available alongside online listening.

  • Artist royalty payout rate: $0.04 per stream
  • Subscription prices:
    • Studio plan: £10.83/month
    • Sublime plan: £14.99/month
  • Audio fidelity: Lossless, FLAC (24-Bit up to 192 kHz)
  • Key features:
    • High-quality audio
    • 100m tracks available
    • Exclusive editorial content
    • Passionate community on Qobuz Club

Learn more on Qobuz.

Tidal – Best for exclusive music

In 2015, Jay-Z splashed $56m on a Norwegian streaming service, rebranded it, and launched it as an “artist-owned” streaming service called Tidal. Nine years later, Tidal has had an interesting journey but has managed to establish a core user fanbase and attract artists with its satisfyingly high royalty payout rate.

Some of the biggest rap and R&B artists today, such as Ye, for example, choose to release their music exclusively on this streaming service. Beyoncé released her phenomenal LEMONADE album on Tidal and Rihanna, Jay-Z and Drake have also released albums exclusively onto the platform.

The exclusivity of Tidal is not just what attracts both artists and listeners to the streaming service. Tidal’s royalty rate is $0.0125 to $0.015 per stream which, compared to Spotify’s average of $0.004, is a steep improvement. Plus, Tidal builds a tight-knit community through engaging editorial content, from conversations with new artists about upcoming releases to reviews of gigs or look-backs on important music that has shaped music and its culture.

  • Artist royalty payout rate: $0.0125 to $0.015 per stream
  • Subscription price:
    • HiFi: £10.99/month
    • HiFi Plus: £19.99/month
  • Audio fidelity: Up to 24-bit, 192 kHz
  • Key features:
    • Exclusive music
    • High-quality audio
    • Curated editorial content
    • Artist-centric approach

Find out more on Tidal.

SoundCloud – Best for up-and-coming artists and sharing your music

SoundCloud, which launched in 2007, started out as a music-sharing platform, later developing into its own streaming service. The platform lets you easily upload, promote, and share your music and DJ mixes, so you can reach global audiences directly and engage with them through comments and a message inbox. Because of this, SoundCloud has built up a dedicated community of listeners, producers, and – most notably – rappers, having birthed a sub-genre of rap called SoundCloud rap in and around 2016.

Compared to Spotify, SoundCloud offers more flexibility for independent artists to showcase their work and engage with fans without the need for label support. Since 2021, SoundCloud has featured a fan-powered royalty system, where artists are paid based on the actual listening habits of their fans, rather than overall listens being pooled up with major artists.

  • Artist royalty payout rate: $0.0025 to $0.004 per stream (if artists sign up to SoundCloud For Artists)
  • Subscription price:
    • Free (with ads)
    • SoundCloud Go: £5.99/month (no ads)
    • SoundCloud Go+: £9.99/month (no ads)
  • Audio fidelity:
    • SoundCloud Go: 128kpbs MP3
    • SoundCloud Go+: 256kbps AAC
  • Key features:
    • Fan-powered royalties
    • Upload DJ mixes (3 hours max.)
    • Engagement with fans
    • Direct artist-to-listener model

Find out more on SoundCloud.

Beatport – Best for DJs

Beatport, founded in 2004, is a digital music store focused solely on electronic music. Beatport’s EDM-centred library is vast and varied, home to everything from drum ‘n’ bass to house, garage, techno, right through to trap, amapiano and more, offering niche sub-genes from each.

In 2023, Beatport expanded into streaming with the launch of Beatport Streaming. It provides subscribers access to all of Beatport’s catalogue tracks for streaming through web browsers or on your phone. Beatport’s StreamingDirectPlay is integrated into modern DJ decks, such as the Pioneer CDJ-3000, which then gives you access to Beatport’s library directly from the decks without the need for a USB stick or, thanks to its offline streaming capabilities, Wi-Fi.

The iOS and Android app is a handy solution for DJs who want to discover and be inspired by new music on the move, instead of sitting at a desk.

  • Artist royalty payout rate: $0.10 per stream
  • Subscription price:
    • Essential: $9.99/month
    • Advanced: $15.99/month
  • Audio fidelity: MP3, WAV, AIFF
  • Standout features:
    • Extensive dance music catalogue
    • DJ-friendly features (key, tempo, advanced filters etc.)
    • Stream via desktop or on smart phones
    • Stream tracks directly to DJ decks via Beatport StreamingDirectPlay
    • No need for Wi-Fi when DJing with offline streaming

Find out more on Beatport.

One to watch: Marine Snow

Marine Snow is a streaming service that has been in the works for over three years and is set to officially launch very soon. We’ve been speaking to its lead creator, ex-Spotify employee Tony Lashley, about what the upcoming streaming platform will provide for artists. It certainly sounds like, if it takes off, it could change the streaming landscape.

One of the main exciting features of Marine Snow is its unique artist-focused take on usual streaming models. Marine Snow offers artists an upfront payment equal to 500,000 Spotify streams, and gives subscribers the option of a subscription-as-investment – if you choose to pay more than the minimum subscription rate, you’ll gain a stake in the platform. Marine Snow also rotates tracks exclusively for 90 days, guaranteeing each contributing artist a fixed share of revenue regardless of stream numbers.

In a recent interview with MusicTech, Lashley explained the platform’s shift towards artist empowerment: “You can only help artists as much as you can capture money or attention from consumers…you have to create new forms of value if you want to succeed.

“An artist can think they’ve written a really good song, and it can get 10,000 plays and it’s still a really good song, no matter how many plays it gets.”

Features:

  • Artist royalty payout rate: N/A
  • Subscription prices: N/A
  • Audio fidelity: N/A
  • Key features:
    • Upfront payment to artists
    • Gamified music discovery
    • 90-day track rotation
    • Subscription-as-investment model

Read more on Marine Snow.

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