I tried very hard to support the artists I love (I won’t rule out buying an album again) but for the most part, I just stream new music.
Today’s top 5 post is around music streaming services available in South Africa. If you are using a service that’s not available locally like Spotify – good for you, but here’s a list of music streaming services you can subscribe to from South Africa and for a fee you get the benefits of ad-free music, offline play and use on desktop and mobile.
You can use most of the services without paying a subscription fee after the trial period, but the “catch” is listening to ads. Beats listening to radio DJs any day.
EDIT: Rdio and MixRadio have been removed as these services do not exist anymore. See updated list below.
1. APPLE MUSIC
If you have an iDevice, the option that makes the most sense is Apple Music, which launched in South Africa in June 2015. The nicest thing about it is that it offers a 3 month trial period, long enough to know if this is what you’re looking for, however, it’s quite buggy and may be confusing to navigate. Individual membership costs R59 a month and lets you skip unlimited tracks on radio stations, listen to unlimited music on the catalogue, add your own library to it, and offline play. The “family sharing” option is R89 a month up to 6 people (excellent deal).
2. GOOGLE PLAY MUSIC
Google Play Music launched in December last year with a catalogue of over 35 million tracks. The service has three aspects to it: streaming, uploading, and purchasing. It comes with a 30-day free trial and thereafter it will cost R59 a month; there’s no family sharing option. You can access your account (via Gmail login) on either Android, iOS or the web. A paid subscription gives you ad-free listening, skipping tracks, offline play, and curated radio stations. You are also allowed to upload up to 50,000 tracks to your locker.
3. SIMFY AFRICA
Simfy Africa has more than 27 million tracks and lets you access it from the web, including mobile and desktop apps. Initial sign-up gives you access across all platforms for 14 days. Thereafter, it will cost you R25 per month for web, PC and Mac access. This does not include offline play or mobile app use. For R60 a month with All Access, it includes mobile and offline play up to 3 devices. Payment methods include credit cards, mobile operator billing and Edgars store cards. If you pay upfront for an annual subscription, you get a discount. Vouchers also make great gifts.
Platforms: iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry, Windows Phone – (as of March 2015)
Deezer has the most extensive catalogue with more than 35 million tracks and over 30 000 radio channels. You get a 15 day free trial and you can use it for free afterwards or you can subscribe to Premium+ for R59.99 a month. The free option gives you web access to unlimited tracks but with ads and also has personal recommendations based on what you listen to. The Premium+ model gives you offline mode, no ads, import existing mp3s and higher sound quality. It also has artist-related channels for you to discover new music. Deezer also supports social sharing.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, BlackBerry
Rara has more than 22 million tracks in its catalogue, and playlists created by international DJs around the world that you can access. It’s “closed” in that there is no free trial. It has 2 payment plans: Web for R6.99 for the first 3 months (and R33.99 thereafter) and Premium for R13.99 for the first 3 months (and R68.99 thereafter). Both options give unlimited ad-free streaming, while Premium offers access to apps and offline play. It’s quite pricey for the amount of tracks available in its library.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows 8
Personal pick: Deezer – for new albums being available immediately
Disclaimer: I was provided with a Premium+ subscription on Simfy Africa when it launched in South Africa years ago, which I use for offline play.