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Napster-spotify-skySky Songs‘ launch and Napster’s recent changes mean Spotify is staring down the barrel. But how do these three streaming titans stack up against each other. And which one is worthy of your monthly direct debit? We’ve put them head-to-head to see which one comes out sounding like a musical genius.

Cost
Spotify is free, but all those gratis tunes come at a cost. Namely, invasive ads which are getting more frequent. Its premium service costs £9.95 a month, but if you have an iPhone or Android blower, it will get you the mobile app and offline access, rendering downloads less important. Napster’s £5 deal lands you ad-free streaming and 5 MP3s a month. Fork over a tenner and you’ll get the same streaming skills, plus 12 tunes. Sky charges £6.49 for a month’s listening, with an album costing that amount, or 10 tunes, slung on top.
Winner: Spotify


Sky Songs: Six ways it gives Spotify a spanking


Catalogue
Sky Songs boasts 4 million, with a “weekly ingest” planned. Sky has also told us that any searches that throw up no results are actively looked into, letting it plug the gaps quicker, depending on demand. That said, Spotify still has more tunes, standing at 4.7 million at the last count in September. However, it’s the old school Napster that’s miles out in front, with a huge 8 million tunes up for grabs.
Winner: Napster

Accessibility
Stump up for Sky Songs or Napster and you can access them anywhere via your browser. Grab Spotify and you’ll need to install an app onto your PC or Mac. However, the latter does let you log into your account on any machine. Pay for Spotify Premium and you can use “Travel Access” to play tracks anywhere in the world. Punters without Premium can play nice with this feature for two weeks only.
Winner: Sky Songs and Napster

Quality
Sky’s MP3s will be downloaded at 320kbps, matching 7Digital and its policy of offering top drawer MP3s to the masses. Spotify also offers 320kbps MP3s, but only to its Premium users, while 160kbps is standard for those who don’t want to pay. That said, you do get sound normalisation tech chucked in. Napster streams at a measly 128kbps, although the tracks you download come in at 256kbps.
Winner: Sky Songs


Read our Spotify iPhone app review now


Usability
Spotify seemed like the easiest thing in the world when it landed last year. But Sky Songs and Napster both pack recommendation engines, meaning finding new music you’ll love is much easier. With editorial from music hacks thrown in, both have the edge on Spotify, although Sky’s deal with high-profile entertainment gurus Holy Moly and Popjustice puts it on top. Spotify will let you scrobble your listening to Last.fm, but it won’t actively recommend new listening. Instead you’ll need to be reading Pitchfork and NME religiously to dig up killer new tunes.
Winner: Sky Songs

Mobile
The Spotify iPhone app and its Android sibling are genius. And while Sky Songs might be snapping at its heels, it still doesn’t let you listen on your phone. We know that a Napster iPhone app is ready to roll, but we’ve been told by its top brass that it won’t be coming out to play until mobile streaming costs come down. At the moment then, Spotify is out on its own when it comes to your phone.
Winner: Spotify

Overall winner: Sky Songs

  • richard

    Deeply flawed. You actually list the fact that Spotify has a client as a negative? The less crap I can have streaming from my browser and hogging memory, the better. I would dismiss the other two BECAUSE they’re browser-based, just like I’ve dismissed We7.

    As for your apples vs oranges comparison of “quality”. Spotify doesn’t actually offer mp3 downloads at ANY rate. The streaming quality is 320kps for premium and a wholly acceptable 160kps for non-paying punters. The mp3s you can buy are powered by 7Digital.

    I will agree that Spotify’s catalogue is it’s biggest issue at the moment though.

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