Free Music Online

Stream music free incl Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music

free music online

With online music services you can listen to the latest and greatest hits whenever and wherever, And by listening to a few ads or making use of free trials, you can do so without paying a penny. Here's our round-up of the best online music services that let you listen for free.

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, over 91 billion tracks were streamed in the UK in 2018, a 34% increase on 2017.

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

  • 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 phone, tablet, computer or other 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).

  • Streaming lets you listen to your favourite tracks and albums instantly. Its main boon is you get instant access to huge catalogues of music, without having hundreds of CDs cluttering up your house or thousands of MP3s cluttering up the memory of your devices.

    These services are legal and above board, but the music is interrupted every now and then with an advert you can't 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 checking that your broadband package offers unlimited usage (most do these days), so you'll not have the worry of exceeding any limit - full details in the How to get cheap broadband guide.

    And if you're streaming on a smartphone or tablet, use Wi-Fi whenever possible or switch to a deal that offers you more data if you want to listen on the go to avoid extra charges - see Best Sim only Deals for more info.

  • 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.

Music streaming isn't always free – but you can cut the cost when it's 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 a paid-only provider. Plans typically go for £10/mth, though the good news is there are ways to cut the cost.

  • 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, library 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. Note that these subscriptions usually require all users to reside at the same address.  

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

  • 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 50 million songs, packed with features

Spotify

Probably the biggest name in online music, the Spotify streaming service works on a plethora of devices. It has over 200 million active monthly users globally and over 50 million available tracks.

It offers free music streaming on desktops, laptops and Android or iOS devices, 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.

  • Spotify offers an array of clever extra features to both free and Premium users, including the ability to follow what friends are listening to on social media. You can also find music already on your computer and add it to your Spotify library, so you can listen to it on other PCs just by logging in to your account.

    Spotify automatically generates daily and weekly personalised playlists based on the artists you follow and tracks you listen to most. This feature is available to free users as well as subscribers.

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.
  • Spotify no longer allows new subscribers to make payments for Premium via Apple's in-app payment system – you now have to subscribe 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, smart TVs, PS3/PS4, Xbox One.

Over 56 million songs, save with annual plan

Deezer

On the scene since 2006, Deezer is one of the older music-streaming sites, with around 14 million active monthly users. It's a fully-fledged free service supported by ads.

As with Spotify, free users can only listen in shuffle mode and when online, but unlike with Spotify you can't skip tracks at all unless you're willing to fork out for the privilege.

  • Upgrading to Deezer Premium will let you listen without ads and shuffle plus gives you unlimited skips and lets you download tracks for listening offline.

    The 'Flow' feature mixes your favourite tracks with new recommendations and old favourites based on your listening habits, creating an "infinite stream" of personalised music.

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. You can also sign up for a year for £99.90 (equiv £8.33/mth). 
  • Deezer Family (£14.99/mth) lets up to six people access an account at once.
  • Deezer Student provides those enrolled at a college or university Premium access for £4.99/mth.
  • Deezer HiFi (£19.99/mth) allows those who listen via the desktop app or selected soundsystems to do so in lossless (ie, very high) audio quality.
  • There is an app for both PC and Mac as well as iOSAndroid and Windows Mobile devices. It can also be used with various web browsers, selected smart TVs and smart speakers, and Xbox One.

Over 150 million songs, great for new & smaller artists

Soundcloud

There are over 150 million tracks on SoundCloud, and this continues to grow 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.

  • Because of its focus on artists and getting new material published, SoundCloud is ideal for discovering new or smaller artists that you may not find elsewhere, and exploring trending music.

    Since it introduced a paid option earlier in 2016, the free version has ads and you must pay to listen offline. SoundCloud Go costs £5.99/month and removes the ads and lets you listen offline, while SoundCloud Go+ (£9.99/month) gives you that plus access to every track and better quality sound.

Tried SoundCloud? Tell us about it in the forum.

Need-to-knows
  • Free seven-day trial available for SoundCloud Go newbies – you'll be charged £5.99/mth automatically at the end unless you cancel.
  • Free 30-day trial for SoundCloud Go+ newbies - you'll be charged £9.99/mth automatically at the end unless you cancel.
  • Students can get Soundcloud Go+ for £4.99/mth (after a free 30-day trial).
  • SoundCloud Pro, more for musicians/uploaders, costs £7/mth or £63/yr and gives you six extra hours of upload time and advanced stats on your tracks.
  • Pro Unlimited costs £10/mth or £90/yr and gives you unlimited upload time plus Soundcloud Go+ for £4.99/mth if you want it.
  • There are apps for iOS and Android devices, Windows computers and tablets and Xbox One. You can also use it via your web browser.

Over 800 curated playlists, no registration required

Jango

Jango is an online radio service rather than an on-demand music streaming service. It's funded by ads and while you can't listen to particular artists, songs or albums when you want, you can listen to radio 'stations' by artist or genre.

You don't have to register. Just type in an artist or genre, select your preferred result and your first station will start playing right away. For example, type in 'Adele', select 'Adele Radio' and it will play similar artists to Adele, such as Carly Rae Jepsen and Tove Lo, as well as Adele herself.

  • If you just want instant access to music, Jango is a good starting point. It enables you to 'like' or 'ban' songs so they are played more often or not all, and to customise stations, even without registering (although you'll have to if you want to save your stations and preferences). You can also skip six songs an hour.

    The site also provides emerging artists with the opportunity to showcase their music by playing their songs alongside those of similar popular artists.

    Jango is free because it's funded by ads, so if you use the service without creating an account, you'll hear an audio ad every so often, though it says it tries to keep these to a minimum. To hear fewer ads, create a Jango account and connect it with  your Facebook account and you'll only get one audio ad per day. At present the mobile apps are ad-free.

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 there are apps for both iOS and Android - they have good reviews and are ad-free.   .

How to complain about a provider

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

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 that aims to make complaining quick and easy.

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

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