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.
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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: