Spotify US: How It Stacks Up Against iTunes, Pandora & Zune?

Last week Spotify, a new streaming music service, was finally released in the U.S.  In a panel discussion yesterday, company owner Daniel Ek said that he believes the future of music is in accessing the music, not owning it.  With the number of music services growing – let’s take a side by side comparison of the big ones.

Spotify.  The new kid on the block.  Spotify offers 10 free hours per month of music streaming and allows each song to be played up to 5 times per month.  Not enough you say?  Well there is a pay option.  Starting at $4.99 per month, users can stream unlimited amounts of music, or simply choose to buy the song ala-iTunes.

iTunes.  Despite whatever rumors may be flying about concerning Apples plans to go to a subscription based service, iTunes is currently the king of the heap.  Offering songs from $0.69 to $1.29 as well as exclusive tracks, iTunes continues to have a lot of traffic.  Not to mention the fact that the iTunes store is one stop shopping for books, movies, and TV shows as well.  The down side, this is probably the most expensive option, however users do own the music in perpetuity once it’s bought.

Pandora.  Pandora was the first of the free music services.  What started as a browser based radio service which allowed users to enter in an artist and then hear a radio station custom built around they type of music, has evolved.  Now anyone with a smart phone and a data plan can stream free music, virtually commercial free, on the go.  The app is free, the service is free.  The only down sides are that users can only skip seven songs in an hour, and there are some short commercial ads.

Zune Market Place.  Microsoft’s Zune Market place acts almost exactly like iTunes, with pay per song options.  Songs are about $0.99, and a monthly unlimited subscription costs $14.99. If both Xbox 360 console and a Zune is owned, music can be streamed through the console with ease.

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