Australian Subscription Music Services Compared

The launch of the Telstra-backed MOG service in Australia means it's time to update our listing of subscription streaming music services in Australia. While the pricing from every major service is fairly similar, there are some noticeable differences, especially if you want access on mobile devices.

Picture by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

All subscription music services work in the same way. For a fixed monthly fee, you can stream as much music as you like to your computer from a set catalogue of several million songs. For a higher premium fee, you can also access those streams on mobile devices (and in some cases download tracks so you don't need an active connection). Your access to that music expires if you stop paying the subscription.

Spotify and Grooveshark are unusual in offering a totally free service (with ads), along with an ad-free but browser-only version for an in-between fee. Most of the other providers offer free trials but want you to pay up quickly. (MOG has an ad-supported version overseas but that isn't being offered in Australia.)

The minimum price quoted below is what you'll pay (most services allow instant cancellation after a month, but JB Hi-Fi has a three month minimum on its basic service). JB Hi-Fi, Zune Music Pass and Samsung Music Pass all offer discounts for longer sign-ups. Rara.com offers special prices for the first three months; we've quoted the full price but reflected that deal in our calculation of the minimum cost of signing up for the service. MOG customers using either BigPond or NextG won't have the data used by the service counted against their allowance.

Here's what you'll pay for each service (click for a larger version):

And here are the platforms that are supported (again, you'll invariably have to pay a premium for mobile access; Samsung's deals are differentiated by the number of phones you can connect). Unsurprisingly, Zune Music Pass also works on Xbox, Sony Music Unlimited works on PS3 and some Bravia TVs, and Samsung Music Hub work on some Samsung TVs. Note that while Grooveshark runs on iOS, you need a jailbroken device, which won't appeal to lots of people.

Spotify still comes out of this comparison looking like a good deal, especially if you don't mind the ads, but JB Hi-Fi NOW remains the cheapest if you're paying. Rara.com lacks versatility and is pricey once the trial period expires. The hardware provider deals (Sony, Samsung, Microsoft) don't make much sense if you don't own the relevant hardware. The no-cap option for MOG could make it a sensible choice if you are a Telstra customer, but there's not much to differentiate it otherwise.

The lack of detail on how many tracks are available from many providers is frustrating; while absolute volume isn't everything, more tracks generally increases your chances of finding stuff you will enjoy. Given you can get free trials from most providers, it doesn't hurt to shop around; just remember to cancel your subscription before it recurs.

For further details on each provider, hit their official sites via the links below:


Comments

    I signed up with MOG after I read this article to give it a go my thoughts are limited but:
    * The Android App is just a bookmark for the website
    * Was able to download and install and link my bigpond (billing) account easily
    * Unable to login to the application, no error, username and password are correct..

    uninstalled and will stay with spotify...

      the bigpond login screen is just a web link, but once you get logged in, MOG is definitely an app. Having tried Spotify, Rdio and MOG on android in the last few weeks, MOG's app has my favourite UI. Now to see how the streaming holds up on the way home - spotify held up much better than rdio, but I'm hoping that MOG's link with Telstra will make streaming rock solid...

      I had the same issues. It turned out to be because I .. ahem .. have my router DNS set to USVideo.org...

    Is that Paul MacCartney? and why is be carrying around a blow up sex doll?

    You missed a popular OS in that table...

      ..? What OS is that?

        I think he was referring to Linux

          I've trialed Rdio, Rara, JB HiFi NOW and MOG on Ubuntu - they all have Web clients. Can't get Deezer to login properly with my FB credentials. Spotify has a desktop client for Ubuntu and it works pretty well - a few bugs but functional. Spotify and Rdio are the front-runners on the desktop IMHO. The others have dinky awkward UIs that I wouldn't pay for.

    Isn't one of the strengths of MOG that all its music is 320kbps?

    That's not really clear from this comparison article

    I'm currently a Rdio subscriber, but am trialing spotify right now. And i think i'll be moving over to Spotify once the trial is over.
    One of the big advantages of Spotify is that you can create playlists that includes music from your iTunes or Windows media music libraries. There will always be some music not available from these services (eg. The Beatles), so by allowing us to combine with our own libraries minimises the annoyances.
    Not sure if any of the other services have this functionality.

    Downloaded Spotify for my Andriod tablet and phone it worked the first time I used it and never again. Apparently the free service is not available on Android just PC. Not used it on PC.

      Have you updated the app in the last week or so? I was having the same problems, installed the recent update and now it works great. Give it a try if you haven't already !

      Music streaming to phones is only supported in Spotify Premium. When you first download it you are signed up for premium for free for 48 hours. So unless you renewed your premium (note there is a free 30 day trial of premium: http://www.spotify.com/au/freetrial/), it isn't going to work on your phone after the first 48 hours.

    You should add linux support to the round up.

    Radio works a treat in the browser while Spotify doesnt support it atm

      Spotify does have a Linux Client, given it is still in beta, but it exists.

    Zune music pass will soon be re-named to "Xbox Music" and will be the world's largest library of subscription music with over 30 million tracks. BAM!

      But will those 30 million tracks be available in any single market? iTunes claims a similar #tracks worldwide but the reality is that most markets don't provide anything like that.

    I still can't justify the money for any of these services when what I listen to doesn't show up in any of these services. The main problems being that the artist isn't that popular in Australia, or licensing restrictions don't allow them to have that song.

    The free ad-supported Spotify is unlistenable. I think they make the ads intentionally annoying to get you to sign up sooner.

    I've been looking around for a streaming service that lets me do the following:

    1) Shuffle all music
    2) Play local files on desktop and mobile (I'm wishing to retain my purchased tracks, since neither service has everything and I'm on limited 3G quota)
    3) Vaguely resembles iTunes in UI

    Unfortunately, none of the ones I've tried (Spotify, Rdio, MOG) seem to. Shuffling seems to be desktop-only on Rdio and Spotify (and not at all on MOG), playing local files isn't possible on mobile (iOS) with either, and MOG's interface is a bit too confusing (how hard is it to have a 'playing now' button, FFS).

    Spotify is the closest, but still not quite there yet.

    I absolutely hated Spotify. I don't need my Facebook friends knowing every song that I'm listening to. It would be better if it didn't require Facebook to sign up. Zune is my personal choice as it integrates with Xbox and WP7. It also gives you a large library of music videos on the Xbox. On the iOS side, the combination of Rdio and iTunes Match give me a massive library of music, plus my large collection of rare and uncatalogued music from my iTunes collection.

    America's Pandora is free with ads & still cheap if you want it ad free! no need to hook it to facebook, very easy, user friendly and introduces u to new music by gettign to know your music tastes and choosing appropriately!! it was banned for years and has come back!!!!

    I'm reall confused. I can't get pandora. It says not available in our region. I've tried multiple times today. And yet I have a friend who connected a few months ago. How do I do it?

    Addressing a few things in the comments:
    Spotify has 3 bitrates: 96, 160 and 320kb/s; you can change your preference on both desktop and mobile clients.

    Spotify app: "TuneWiki" is great, sync'd lyrics on screen with zero effort; has every song I've played (even Finnish rap).

    Yes, the mobile client has a shuffle button; I'm using it right now, it's on the bottom left of the 'now playing' screen. This may not have been there before, but definitely is now.

    Never had a problem with Spotify's linux client on Ubuntu 12.04; works identical to the windows version (Better even, you can use window snapping).

    It's nice that they notify you IN the client that the direct debit failed due to insufficient funds and give you a 24 hour grace period until it tries again, instead of just dropping your subscription.

    The best thing imho about Spotify is it's range of European music. It's top 100 tab has the ability to select the region, so you can see what's popular in the US, UK or the rest of Europe; really nifty when you want to keep up with popular trends back home. Right now I'm listening to a German song "Einmal um die Welt - CRo", and the next in line are in Danish, Finnish, Spanish and Dutch... Love it.

    The only complaint I have is with the Android tablet client: it's the phone client.

    Might be worth updating this list now that Pandora is here and working really well I think. Great value and I'm getting introduced to some fantastic artists.

    Grooveshark is now gone so that can go from this list - maybe replace it with https://www.incustunes.com/ ? It's equally as awesome and Aussies can definitely get it!

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