What are some Apple Music alternatives

Apple Music: The Best Alternatives

Thomas Joos, Peter Müller

If iTunes or its successor Music does not suit you, then you should just use a different software. It's so easy to say. But there are alternatives.

EnlargeApple Music and alternatives
© Fotolia.de, Syda Productions

The Apple streaming service Apple Music is very popular, most recently Apple had 60 million subscribers. Four years after its launch, Spotify continues to have double the number of subscribers and is by far the market leader in front of Apple, which, however, also holds a large distance from other competitors. Many Mac and iPhone users avoid Apple Music and prefer to use Spotify and Co.

The competitors also offer a good performance and can be used without problems on Apple devices, in the browser or in dedicated apps. In addition, there is a fundamental circumstance with the software up to its version in macOS 10.14 Mojave: Apple Music was tied to iTunes, which had long been in need of renovation, until autumn 2019. In macOS 10.15 Catalina, Apple has now smashed iTunes and outsourced the music department to an app called "Music", which looks a bit like the original iTunes from 2001 and attaches great importance to Apple Music: The iTunes Store, where you can find music can buy permanently, but the work is not displayed in the app, you have to display it first.

For a long time, Apple Music was the only relevant streaming service that could not be used via a web browser. That is now changing, since September 2019 Apple Music has also been available in a web player, so far in a beta version.

Deezer, Amazon and Spotify offer their own applications for Mac and Windows, if you want to use Apple Music, you always have to use the music app (or the web browser, if you are on beta software). Advantage: If you already use a comprehensive music archive with purchased downloads and songs ripped from CD, you can continue to use it in Apple Music. In addition, Apple Music has its own music desk and its own live radio station - which can also be heard 24 hours a day, seven days a week by non-subscribers.

Tip: iMazing - the alternative to iTunes: Back up music and messages

Another benefit of Apple Music, but also Google Play Music, is the use of curated playlists. These are special playlists that are compiled by the editorial team for special occasions. The playlists are put together by music experts, especially for the gym, mobile users or for cleaning. The two services offer customized playlists that you just have to play back for every occasion.

If you are not looking for a streaming service but prefer to play your own music collection with a different player, you will also find some alternatives on the Internet. Of course, there are tons of media players for Mac, Windows, and Linux out there. But few can handle iTunes libraries and sync the data with iPhone / iPad. In the following, we will deal with the various streaming services and then with media players, which can also replace iTunes or music without a streaming service.

That is why alternatives make perfect sense

The big advantage of Apple Music is the huge selection and good integration in macOS, tvOS, iPadOS and iOS. On the whole, all alternatives offer a similar volume of around 50 million titles - there is hardly any exclusive music left, at most in the case of services that also offer music in high-resolution form (Amazon Music Unlimited HD, Tidal, ...)

iTunes and the music app on the iPhone and iPad do not incorporate any alternative streaming services, as is the case with the Sonos app, which also integrates the offers from Apple Music, Spotify and others. Meanwhile, Apple Music can also be played on Echo speakers from Amazon, but the reverse is not (yet) possible: Amazon Music Unlimited HD on the Homepod. You have to stream it via airplay if you want it that way.

The prices for all services are quite similar and are around 10 euros per month, HD options cost an additional fee, if available. Some services such as Spotify and Deezer can also be used free of charge to a limited extent. Anyone who wants to use streaming in the whole family receives a 50 percent discount on Spotify. Apple Music offers the option of grouping up to six family members in one subscription for € 15 per month. Other services do not offer special discounts in this regard.

Almost all streaming services offer similar features. Although this list does not claim to be exhaustive, it does show that there are definitely interesting alternatives that you can take a look at, especially since you can use all services free of charge for at least 30 days. But there are also very often special promotions, for example six months of Apple Music trial for Telekom customers, and there have also been promotions at Mediamarkt or Saturn and will be there again.

Spotify - the veteran

The market leader in the streaming sector Spotify offers free, advertising-financed access, but in poorer quality and a little less in scope.

Only the paid subscription allows you to listen to music offline. The ad-financed offer serves as a permanent trial subscription, where others only grant 30 days or 90 days (Apple only). For this, neither Apple Music nor Google offer free and advertising-financed versions of theirs, with the exception of the aforementioned Beats 1 station on Apple Music.

Spotifiy can be used on the Mac via an independent program, but also via the browser and mobile via app, in all solutions you can hear the complete package. A huge advantage of Spotify is that, thanks to Spotify Connect, the service works differently than others on a large number of multimedia boxes, smart TVs and other devices. Apple Music is restricted to the Airplay and Bluetooth protocols.

Unfortunately, it is still common in Germany to sell cell phone contracts with limited volumes. Playing music via a streaming service naturally puts a significant strain on the data volume, but some providers offer contracts that include streaming costs and do not eat up the data volume.

But Apple Music also offers offline functions and saves songs on the device for use without an Internet connection. You need to turn off using Apple Music online in Settings and make sure it is using offline mode too. If you merge the iCloud music library with Apple Music in iOS, you have the option of saving songs offline and using them even without a data connection. To do this, select the option with the three dots. For the download you should be in a WLAN if possible - otherwise your included volume will quickly be exhausted.

Amazon Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited also with HD

In addition to the option of storing purchased music in Amazon's cloud storage and being able to use it online at any time, Prime customers also have access to a free library with Prime Music. Compared to other services, however, the choice on Amazon is very limited. Amazon Prime Music is not a stand-alone streaming service that you subscribe to, but just an additional function for Prime customers.

But they can discover the possibilities and possibly save themselves the booking of further services. In conjunction with other free solutions such as Spotify or Deezer, this can result in a very interesting alternative to Apple Music and completely free of charge. Of course, the operation is a bit cumbersome in this case, as you cannot rely on the internal functions of iPhone / iPad and iTunes, but require several interfaces and apps. The selection at Prime Music is very limited and there are usually no innovations.
On the other hand, the Amazon Music Unlimited service, which is also available as Amazon Music Unlimited HD, offers 50 million tracks. In this context, you can also listen to music in "Ultra HD" resolution, which should be practically lossless. HD means 16 bit and 44.1 kHz (up to 850 kbps), Ultra HD means 24 bit and 192 kHz (up to 3730 kbps). Amazon leaves open which codec is used. While HD quality offers 50 million titles in CD quality, Ultra HD has "millions" of titles; it is estimated that one in ten is currently offered in high resolution. Since autumn 2019, Amazon has also been offering a device with which you can hear the differences. In the past, the Echoes were of a rather modest sound quality, especially the Echo Dot, but they have now clearly caught up. With the Echo Studio, Amazon now also offers a high-quality sound that really doesn't have to hide behind that of the Homepod.

Google Play Music

Although you cannot use any free functions in Google Play, you still have free cloud storage in which you can store and also play your own collection. Basically, Google Play Music is very similar to Apple Music. The service is particularly popular with Android users, but there is also an app for iOS and a web app.

Napster and Aldi Life Music

Napster does not offer free access either, but two different flat rates. For 7.95 euros you get restricted access, for example with regard to mobile use. If you want to use the service extensively, you have to spend 9.95 euros / month. But here you also have the opportunity to rely on Aldis Dienst Life Musik. This is simply a reseller service for Napster, but it also offers mobile access to Napster for € 7.99 a month. However, you should not use this service blindly, as it again only supports smartphones and desktop devices for playback. Unusual: Aldi Life also includes a flat rate for e-books.

There is currently no app on smart TVs and other devices that is compatible with Aldi. Here you are better off with Napster or Spotify. You can use Napster via a browser or via a stand-alone client. Just like Spotify, Napster is also supported on a large number of end devices, for example on multimedia boxes or smart TVs.

Deezer

Deezer can be tested free of charge for 30 days, but also offers free access. However, this is limited in terms of the possibilities. In terms of scope, Deezer offers a selection similar to that of the competition. You can use the service on a large number of end devices and apps are available for all relevant systems. One advantage of Deezer is the use of its own app, especially for audio books. With Apple Music there are no audiobooks at all and audiobooks are also in short supply in Google Play Music. Although Deezer can be booked via a mobile phone contract with Vodafone, the data volume is taken into account.

Alternative media players for Mac and iPad

In addition to the use of online streaming services, the playback of media naturally also plays an important role when replacing iTunes or music. Because if you no longer want to use Apple's software, you also need an alternative to the media player function. Third-party tools can also be of great interest as replacements on the iPhone, iPad and iPod.

To replace iTunes / Music on the Mac, however, use tools like Swinsian. The application gives you unlimited access to iTunes libraries. You can also manage your music collection with the program. Swinsian costs around 20 euros. You can also play Flac, WMA or OGG files with Swinsian without any problems.

Vox Music Player: - The player can easily read the iTunes library and is available for macOS and iOS. It also supports high resolution audio files and offers some interesting special functions. For ten US dollars you can activate functions such as Internet radio.

VLC is best known as a video player, but many users also use it as a music player. Not only can it play lossless formats such as FLAC, thanks to DNLA and Icecast support, the freeware is an interesting network radio client. Versions for iOS and last but not least Apple TV are available.

iTunes replacement and media player for Windows and Mac

Of course, players that are compatible with Windows are also available to replace iTunes. A prominent example when it comes to replacing iTunes and synchronizing music on iPhone and iPad are the following players:

Waltr is ideal for quickly transferring video or audio files to an iPhone or iPad without iTunes. The program, which is relatively expensive at 40 US dollars, can convert media files such as MKV or FLAC into compatible formats in a very short time and supplements metadata. The current version supports WiFi as well as transmission via USB.

EnlargeWith Waltr you can transfer data to an iPhone or iPad very quickly.

Primo Music - Priced at $ 20, Primo Music is a slightly cheaper music manager available for Mac and PC. When it comes to importing and exporting music files from and to the iPhone, the program can easily replace iTunes. Primo Music can back up the purchases from the mobile device or restore a broken iTunes library.

iMazing - The tool is a complete replacement for iPhone and plays its role as a manager of external devices such as iPhone and iPad excellently. But it is also possible to transfer music to the computer: Simply move music files from the mobile device / player to the Mac - a function that iTunes had always denied. This means that old content from iPads can be dragged back onto the computer and reimported into your media library. You can use iTunes or music as a player, but you don't have to.

Download iMazing here

Conclusion

Whether you rely on Apple Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, Napser or Deezer is ultimately a matter of taste or depends on whether you like the exclusive content that you get from one person and not from another. If you often want to stream music on the network and are not an iTunes fan, you can rely on Spotify.

If you also want to use your own media player, you have to decide whether you want to use the iTunes libraries and synchronize with your iPhone / iPad with the same tool. In this case, additional players can play an interesting role. Unfortunately, most media players that can replace iTunes / Music, and which can also synchronize iPads / iPhones, only support Spotify as a streaming service.