Several of the top music-streaming services are looking to lure folks who picked up new headphones, Bluetooth speakers, and other home audio gear over the holidays with generous trial offers. While 30-day trial offers are typical in this space, you can sign up for three-month trials of Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon Music HD, Apple Music, and Spotify Premium for free. Tidal, meanwhile, is offering four-month trial subscriptions to its Premium or HiFi service tiers for just $4.
As is typical, these offers are available to new subscribers only, and your credit card will be billed at the going rate when the trial ends if you don’t cancel before then.
The services vary in terms of cost, audio quality, playlist curation, and other features. These aren’t the only music-streaming services to choose from, and they’re not the only services offering free trials. It’s just that these offers are much more generous than the typical 30-day free trials available from Qobuz, Deezer, and the like (YouTube Music is currently running a 60-day free trial).
Amazon Music Unlimited
Amazon Music Unlimited is one of the least expensive services, with Prime members paying just $7.99 per month (everyone else pays $9.99 per month). That delivers on-demand access to a catalog of 60 million tracks streamed in lossy MP3 format at a bit rate of 256Kbps. You can sign up for the trial offer here.
A Spotify Premium subscription gives you on-demand access to about the same number of tracks, plus a growing library of podcasts (1.9 million as of this writing). Spotify also streams music in a lossy format (Ogg), but at a higher bit rate than Amazon (320Kbps). Spotify is widely supported on smart speakers as well as other home audio devices, including networked A/V receivers and even smart TVs via Spotify Connect. A Spotify Premium subscription will cost you $9.99 per month after the three-month free trial. You can sign up for the trial offer here.
Apple Music is extremely popular with iPhone, iPad, and Mac users, although you can use the service with most any computer or mobile device. Apple’s AirPlay technology makes it easy to stream Apple Music to speakers all over your house. Apple says it has more than 70 million tracks in its library, and it has three live internet radio stations plus the ability to stream local broadcast radio stations. You can also watch music videos on Apple Music.
Music is encoded in AAC format and streamed at a bit rate of 256Kbps, but you shouldn’t necessarily equate the lower bit rate as lower quality. AAC, MP3, and Ogg are all lossy codecs, and you might need to listen to the same tracks on Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, and Apple Music to decide which you prefer. An Apple Music subscription will cost you $9.99 per month. You can sign up for the trial offer here.
Amazon Music HD
If you’re looking for higher-quality music and have the speakers to take advantage of it, Amazon Music HD streams are lossless CD quality (16-bit/44.1kHz, with an average bit rates of 850Kbps) at a minimum, and some tracks—identified as Ultra HD—are encoded in 24-bit resolution with sampling rates as high as 192kHz. You’ll need fast broadband service for this, since the streaming rates average 3,730Kbps, but many of these tracks feature the Dolby Atmos and/or Sony 360 Reality Audio codec for immersive listening. An Amazon Music HD subscription will cost you $14.99 per month ($12.99 per month if you’re an Amazon Prime member). You can sign up for the trial offer here.
Tidal Premium or Tidal HiFi
Tidal isn’t offering a free trial of its music-streaming service, but $4 for a four-month subscription is a very good deal. The service is available in two tiers, Premium and HiFi. What’s the difference? Both tiers deliver on-demand streaming of more than 70 million tracks, include curated playlists in various genres, along with music videos. Tidal’s Premium service is similar to Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, and Spotify Premium. It streams music in the lossy AAC format at a bit rate of 320Kbps. After the trial, you’ll be billed $9.99 per month Tidal HiFi tracks are encoded using the lossless FLAC codec and are classified as at least CD quality (16-bit resolution, 44.1kHz sampling rate with an average bit rate of 850Kbps). Sign up for the HiFi tier, and you’ll also gain access to tracks encoded at much higher resolutions, including MQA (Master Quality Authenticated), Dolby Atmos, and Sony 360 Reality Audio. Tidal HiFi subscriptions cost $19.99 per month when the trial period ends. You can sign up for the trial offer here.