Spotify And Its Rivals: Subscription Music Services In Australia Compared

Spotify And Its Rivals: Subscription Music Services In Australia Compared

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.

Picture by Charles Eshelman/Getty Images

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. 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. 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:


  • Angus, I’ve been using the US Spotify for a little while after setting up with a VPN. Do you know if there’s any difference in the catalogue available to Aus users rather than US?

    • I think we may actually have more songs than the US. On the US page it says 14 million+ songs and on Aus it says 16 million+. I changed my US account to an Aus account and haven’t found any tracks that I can no longer play.

      • Thanks Ben and Angus – that was what I was weighing up as I didn’t want to change over to the Aus account if it meant I was going to then lock myself out of a wider selection of tracks. Whilst I hadn’t used the US account that much at home to date, I’ve just set up on work computer with a new Aus account so will likely use it more now rather than my phone as source.

        • Depends on what sort of music you listen to. I have a USA account and just created an AUS account and there are a bunch of record labels I can play here in Aus, mainly indy hardcore and punk labels (that had distro here in Aus) but they are blocked.

          So I think it all come down to what music you want.

  • Missing from the platforms table is whether you can run it from your web browser or not. JB Hifi’s NOW can, for example, but Spotify doesn’t seem to have that ability…

  • Great to see android getting the lions share of streaming services.

    In addition to the quantity of songs, there is a bunch of other stuff you need to weigh up that should factor into your decision.

    Angus, can you guys do a run-down of app features such as:
    1.Offline storage for mobile(Y/N)
    2.Mobile offline storage to SD card (Y/N)
    3.Social/Sharing (Y/N)
    4. Max number of connected devices
    5. Streaming quality (320kb etc)

    • Music unlimited is web browser for Mac and Windows and Linux, has offline mode on Android and web; not found it on the iPhone yet, has SD for Android, no social, max devices seem unlimited but only one logged in at a time, streaming quality… never been able to find it out.

  • The Spotify Android app is a steaming pile of crap that has not been updated in 6 months, is extremely flaky on ICS and does not have landscape support so just looks dumb on a tablet…. That tick should be a question mark tbh…

  • It is quite disappointing that the JB HiFi Android application isn’t compatible with Ice Cream Sandwich, only Gingerbread. I was liking the service until I found I couldn’t go mobile, and am now trying out Spotify in all its glory. Obviously that is a tough comparison considering Spotify is much further developed, but JB HiFi really need to keep up if they want to take/keep some of the market share

  • Making the free Spotify tie in with Facebook is a mistake. Anyone (like me) who has no interest in FB can’t try the free service. Without trying it, I would never consider the paid service. They’re shooting themselves in the foot.

  • Spotify charged me $12.35 for something that was advertised at $11.99.. on top of that, because their billing comes from the UK, you get charged an international fee ($1.55 with ANZ)

    Dont bother with them.

  • been using spotify premium for a few months. in the last month or so it has become unlistanable with songs constantly jumping/stopping. It seems to be linked to the time of day, ie it works well first thing in the morning but any other time, it’s rubbish. I am cancelling my subscription.

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