Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide

Free Music Online

Stream music free incl Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music

Get Our Free Weekly Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 10m who get it. Don't miss out

Nick

Updated 7 Feb 2017

Want to listen to the latest and greatest hits without having to fork out for CDs or digital copies of music?

Whether you're a fan of the Bieber, the Bee Gees or The Beatles, here's a round-up of the best online music services that let you listen for free – there are plenty to choose from...

What is online music streaming?

The internet is a great way to browse, discover and pay for music. The music streaming industry has exploded in the past few years – according to the British Phonographic Industry, 45 billion songs were streamed in the UK in 2016, a 68% increase on 2015.

Before you start using any of these online music services though, it's important to understand how they work. Here are some streaming FAQs:

What's the difference between streaming and downloading?

There are two ways to listen to music online:

  • Downloading. The first is by downloading the songs you want to listen to. This can be costly if you're doing it legally, especially if you're downloading a whole album of songs. Once you've paid for a track or album, it's yours to keep and listen to for as long as you like.

  • Streaming. The other way is online streaming, where you don't actually save the track to your PC or device, you just play it while you're online and every time you listen you're effectively 're-downloading' the track (unless you're on a plan with 'offline listening'). You'll only have access while logged in to your profile with the service (though many are free to use).

How does streaming work?

Streaming lets you listen to your favourite songs instantly. Its main boon is you get instant access to huge catalogues of songs, without having hundreds of CDs cluttering up your house.

These services are legal and above board, but the music is interrupted every now and then with an advert you cannot skip. It can also be difficult to find the exact songs you want to hear, so streaming isn't for everyone.

Before you consider streaming, a word of warning: ensure your broadband and mobile data connection are fast enough and you've a generous download limit. While you're not actually downloading a track to keep, streaming will use up your monthly allowance. Otherwise you risk being hit with added costs and constant buffering.

As a general rule:

You need a high (or unlimited) download limit, or you could be slapped with gargantuan charges.

For example, if you're going to listen to about six hours of internet radio per week, and that is all you'll be doing, you'll need a monthly download allowance of at least 5GB.

If you're going to be streaming more music, or doing other data-heavy things, like streaming movies, it's worth considering a broadband package with unlimited downloads, so you'll not have the worry of exceeding your limit, and using Wi-Fi on your smartphone whenever possible. Full details in the Cheap Broadband guide.

Is online music-streaming legal?

There are plenty of online music-streaming services that are legal, though thousands more aren't. The Government and internet providers are cracking down on the illegal ones, while some services only work in certain countries due to music licensing restrictions.

All those included below are legal, and will work in the UK.

Always check any software you put on your computer is suitable. Ensure it's compatible with your existing set-up. No liability can be accepted for any problems caused from acting upon the info given.

Music streaming isn't always free – but you can cut the cost when not

Many music streaming companies do offer free versions of their services, often with ads and/or certain limitations (such as lacking the ability to play offline). If you're happy to put up with these, then by all means go free.

If you want an ad-free, fully fledged experience, though, you'll need to upgrade to a premium subscription or consider a paid-only provider. Plans typically go for £10/month, though the good news is there are ways to cut the cost...

Family plans

MusicSharing

Most of the big names offer some sort of family or shared subscription, which lets multiple listeners (usually up to six) use the service each with their own profile and playlists.

One monthly payment is due for the entire group – and at £15/month they work out cheaper per person than individual plans. Obviously the more there are of you, the better value they become.

These providers offer family plans (for comparison they're normally £10/month per person):

Student plans

A (smaller) number of streaming services also offer student discounts on their individual plans – usually 50%. Eligibility is determined via Unidays/NUS Extra.

Providers with UK student discounts include:

Top free online music services

Here are a few music streaming providers with free versions worth considering, and remember there's no limit to the number you can use, so you could get thousands of hours' worth of music for absolutely nowt.

Over 30 million songs, packed with features

Spotify

Perhaps the biggest name in online music, the Spotify streaming service works on a plethora of devices. It has over 100 million users globally and 30+ million available tracks.

It offers free music streaming on desktops, tablets and Android or iOS mobiles, though there are ads, you have to listen to tracks by adding them to a playlist and playing them on shuffle, you can only skip songs six times per hour and you must be online to listen. Alternatively you can pay to upgrade to its Premium service which offers ad-free, unrestricted streaming.

More info & features

Used Spotify? Tell us what you think in the forum.

Need-to-knows
  • Free 30-day trial available for Premium newbies – you'll be charged £9.99/mth automatically at the end unless you cancel.
  • Warning: If you sign up to Spotify Premium via Apple on your iOS device, you'll be charged £12.99/mth rather than the £9.99 fee that Spotify charges direct.
  • The Spotify Family plan for sharing with up to five others (each with their own profile) costs £14.99/mth.
  • The Student plan's available for £4.99/mth.
  • Works on PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads, Android phones & tablets, Windows phones, PS3/PS4.

35 million songs, though limited on mobile

Deezer

Deezer

On the scene since 2006, Deezer is one of the older music-streaming sites, with around 16 million users. It's a fully fledged free-streaming service supported by ads, though you only get access to its library on-demand on the web and tablet versions.

This means mobile users can only listen to "flow and mixes" (automated personalised playlists), unless you're willing to fork out for the privilege.

More info & features

Used Deezer? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the forum.

Need-to-knows
  • Free 30-day trial (15 days if you sign up via its app) available for Premium+ newbies – you'll be charged £9.99/mth automatically at the end unless you cancel.
  • Deezer Family (£14.99/mth) lets up to six people access an account at once.
  • No student discount unfortunately.
  • Deezer Elite (£14.99/mth) allows those with a Sonos speaker or home studio system to listen in lossless (ie, very high) audio quality.
  • Works on Android, iOS and Windows Phone, and even Symbian (if you can remember that).

640 million songs, social networking "radio"

Last FM

Over 59 million people around the world stream music with Last FM. Like Rdio and other personalised "radio station" services, Last FM creates a unique playlist for you when you search for something. Fancy a bit of Britpop? You'll be given tracks from Pulp, Blur and Ocean Colour Scene.

It keeps track of everything you listen to on your iTunes and recommends similar artists – all while introducing you to fellow users with similar tastes. It's great for finding new music or gig buddies.

More info & features

Used Last FM? We'd love to hear what you think of it. Share your thoughts in our forum.

Need-to-knows
  • For £3/mth you can remove all ads on the website and mobile apps (no free trial or discounts unfortunately).
  • Works through most browsers and its iOS and Android apps, though there are better-reviewed third-party apps.

175 million monthly listeners, great for finding smaller artists

SoundCloud

Deezer

It's nigh on impossible to estimate how many tracks there are on SoundCloud, simply because of the scale of the service and ease of use for uploaders. This is unsurprising given that it initially launched as a platform for sharing music between artists.

However its popularity with consumers quickly led it to develop into a full publishing tool for musicians to distribute their tracks to the public, and it now boasts 175 million listeners a month.

More info & features

Tried SoundCloud? Tell us about it in the forum.

Need-to-knows
  • Free 30-day trial available for SoundCloud Go newbies – you'll be charged £9.99/mth automatically at the end unless you cancel.
  • No family or student plan unfortunately.
  • SoundCloud Pro, more for musicians/uploaders, costs £3.99/mth or £35/yr and gives three extra hours of upload time and stats on listeners of your tracks.
  • Pro Unlimited costs £8/mth or £75/yr and gives unlimited upload time.
  • There are apps for iOS and Android, but not Windows phones (though there are third-party apps). It no longer supports its desktop apps, but you can use the web version through your browser.

200,000 songs, no registration required

Jango

Jango

Jango is another online radio service, a bit like Last FM. It's funded by ads and you can listen to anything on the service, and get recommendations for artists and songs you might like.

You don't have to register. Just type in an artist and your first "station" will start playing right away. For example, type in 'Adele' and it will play all "similar" artists to Adele, such as Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles.

More info & features

Used Jango? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the forum.

Need-to-knows
  • No paid-for version – it's always free.
  • It'll work through most browsers and its iOS and Android apps, though there are better-reviewed third-party apps.

Top paid-only music services, with free trials

The following music streaming services don't have free options, but they do offer free trials. Perfect for sampling before deciding whether you want to stump up the cash.

40 million tracks – use Amazon Prime trick to slash the cost*

Amazon Music Unlimited – 1mth trial, £9.99/mth (£6.58/mth equiv via trick)

Auto-renews

Launched last November in the UK, Amazon Music Unlimited* is the online retail giant's answer to the likes of Spotify and Apple Music – a fully equipped music-streaming service. It hosts "today's most popular artists", is ad-free and lets you listen offline.

Anyone can get it on a free 30-day trial. After, the standard price is £9.99/mth, though you can choose between a few different plans – or use this trick to cut the cost

Remember, unless you cancel before your Amazon Music Unlimited annual subscription or trial is up, you'll be automatically charged to renew. As for Amazon Prime, it's an automatic £79/yr fee if you don't cancel your trial. For full help if you forget to cancel, see Reclaim Unwanted Amazon Prime.

More info & features

Tried Amazon Music Unlimited? Tell us how you got on with it in the forum.

Need-to-knows
  • You'll automatically be charged at the end of the trial unless you cancel.
  • The Family plan lets up to six listen for £14.99/mth (£149/yr with Prime).
  • No student discount – though those with Student Prime can use the trick above.
  • There's a £3.99/mth plan for use via an Amazon Echo/Echo Dot only – not any other devices.
  • Prime membership gives one-day delivery on many items, streaming via Prime Video and a few other perks.
  • There's an Amazon Music app for iOS, Android and Amazon's own 'Fire' products, though not Windows Phone.

Curated by musicians, with live radio stations*

Apple Music – 3mth trial, then £9.99/mth

Auto-renews

Apple's launch into the music streaming world has been much-publicised and not without contention, particularly when it comes to its free trial and the number of users unwittingly signed up when it ended (see the Cancel Apple Music guide for more details).

All those new to Apple Music* can take it on a free three-month trial, activated through the pre-installed Music app on your iPhone/iPad, or iTunes on your Mac/PC. You'll get all the features of paid membership while the trial runs, including access to its library of 30 million songs.

The paid version is £9.99/month, though there us a family subscription that lets you and five other use the service, for £14.99/month. Students can also get it for £4.99/month.

More info & features

Used Apple Music? Tell us what you think in the forum.

Need-to-knows
  • The trial automatically renews at the end – see the Cancel & Reclaim Apple Music guide for how to reclaim if you've been stung.
  • The Family plan lets up to six listen for £14.99/mth.
  • The Student plan costs £4.99/mth.
  • You can pay for Apple Music using iTunes vouchers, which can often be found discounted.
  • Works on devices running iOS 8.4 or later, Macs and PCs with iTunes, and now Android.

35 million tracks, plus cloud storage of your existing songs

Google Play Music – 2mth trial, then £9.99/mth

Auto-renews

Google Play Music has been around since 2011. Unfortunately it's yet to launch a fully free, ad-supported version in the UK. Much like its rivals, it lets newbies try it for free (you need to have a Google account) – currently you can get a two-month trial instead of the usual one month.

Those on the trial will get the same as paying members – access to its library of music ad-free, offline listening and recommendations based on the tracks you most listen to.

Although there's no student discount available, you can get a Family plan for up to six users, for £14.99/month.

More info & features

Have you tried Google Play Music? Tell us about it in the forum.

Need-to-knows
  • You'll be charged at the end of the trial unless you cancel.
  • The Family plan lets up to six listen for £14.99/mth.
  • No student plan available.
  • You can use Android and iOS devices to listen to Google Play Music, or via your browser.

How to complain about a provider

If you're not happy about the service you receive, you should contact the company first. However, if you're still not satisfied, then...

Free tool if you're having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will escalate it for free to the relevant ombudsman or trade body.

Get Our Free Weekly Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 10m who get it. Don't miss out