Spotify is getting lots of attention for its launch today, but it is far from the only streaming music service in Australia looking for your listening dollars. We've rounded up all the contenders in an easy-to-compare chart.
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While the exact details differ, all these services work in fundamentally 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 millions 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 is unusual in offering a totally free service (with ads); most of the other providers offer free trials but want you to pay up quickly.
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.
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 works on some Samsung TVs:
Spotify does come out of this comparison looking like a good deal, but JB Hi-Fi NOW remains the cheapest. 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 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: