a guide to streaming services for college students

Written by Tori O'Campo

Music can play a large role in the life of a college student, especially while they are making the transition from summer into a new school year. With the bountiful array of music that was released over the past few months, it can be hard to keep up with which new albums and singles you still need to take a listen to. That is why it is important, especially for college students, to have cheap and easy access to music streaming.

The debate over which music streaming service is the best will be an ongoing argument that I chose to remain impartial on … although I will forever and always be a proud Spotify premium member. All jokes aside, here is a list of the pros and cons of different music streaming services for college students based on price, discounts, and convenience!

Amazon Prime Music

Luckily for Amazon Prime members, Prime Music is included! If you, a parent, or a friend, have Amazon Prime, then this might be the cheapest and easiest way to gain access to over 2 million songs with no ads. This streaming service may also be convenient for people who own Amazon Alexa devices because you can stream any song or artist simply by asking your device to play it. However, the layout of Prime Music is not as convenient as alternative services. Since it is lacking popularity, it can make it more difficult to share music with friends.

Apple Music

Apple Music is convenient because it takes your pre-existing iTunes music library and combines it with 45 million songs, all ad-free. The first three months are free, which can be really appealing for anyone who is looking to try out their layout. After the free trial period, it costs $10 per month, but they offer a student discount for only $4.99 per month. Perhaps the most important case to be made for Apple Music is that when Frank Ocean finally decides to release his upcoming album, it will premiere on Apple Music before anywhere else.

Pandora

Although Pandora has hit a decline in usage in the past few years, it is still a convenient and cheap option for those looking to explore new music. For those new to Pandora, you make your own “stations” by choosing bands and songs that you like. The service then puts together songs they think fit your music taste. They have a free version; however, it has ads and a limited amount of times you can skip songs, which is a bit inconvenient. If you can’t stand ads, their paid version only costs $5 per month. Although they do not have a student discount, Pandora is still a cheap option and is perfect for discovering new music that is tailored to your personal taste.

Spotify

As stated earlier, I am a huge believer in Spotify, so I will try to keep this short and sweet. First off, Spotify can function as a free streaming site either online or on their app. The free version allows you to create endless playlists with any song or artist, but there are ads and music only plays on shuffle. I still find the free Spotify to be convenient because it is so personal and there are still a lot of features compared to its competitor’s free versions. If you are willing to invest a bit into your music listening, Spotify Premium gets rid of the ads and allows you to play any song you want, whenever you want. Normally, Spotify is $9.99 per month, but with their student discount it is $4.99 and also comes with a subscription to Hulu.

Spotify also has a section of podcasts, which are an ever-growing trend, especially for college-aged students. One of my favorite things about Spotify is their “Browse” section. There, they have thousands of playlists all organized by categories of moods and genres. This function is great for discovering new music and branching out from your normal rotation. Spotify is available on nearly every device, making it easy to listen to music wherever you want. Plus, it is super simple to share your playlists and favorite bands with friends by sending links, following each other’s accounts, or posting directly to your Instagram story.

Overall, I think Spotify is the best and most well-rounded option due to its many features, its cheap student pricing (that includes Hulu!), and the convenience of sharing and discovering playlists. However, if you have Amazon Prime, then it is possible that Amazon Prime Music would be the most convenient and cheap option for you. Pandora also has its pros, as a cheap option for people who love discovering new music tailored to the music you already love. Apple Music and Spotify always seem to be head-to-head in the music streaming debate, but in this case I have to say Spotify has the upper hand.

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