Digital music sales appear to be in the midst of a steep decline with sales of digital albums falling by 9 per cent in 2014 compared to 2013 figures while sales of digital songs fell 12 per cent over the same period.
One of the main reasons for these numbers is the emergence of digital streaming services which enable you to get the music you want for a small monthly fee; it is even possible to get free music as long as you can cope with the advertising you would need to endure.
Music streaming increased by 54 per cent in 2014 compared to the previous year's figure and this robust growth is expected to continue as more and more services become available.
Users seem to view these services in the same way as people view sports teams; each individual has a service they rate above all others and as the competition heats up, we have decided to take a look at 6 of the top rated music streaming services while paying attention to the user interface on each...
01. Spotify: the overachiever
With anywhere from 40-60 million users depending on the figures you believe, Spotify (opens in new tab) remains the streaming service of choice for most music lovers.
A combination of the low price tag (Free with ads, £10 a month without) and 25 million song catalog makes Spotify hard to resist while its social integration with Facebook enables you to share songs with your friends.
It can take a little time to figure out the UI but once you do, it's an enjoyable experience. The site cleverly combines a darker background with a lime green for activity while all four sides of the page have the most commonly used features and is divided into:
- An area for your playlists and library.
- An activity feed for the accounts you follow.
- The music player.
- Personal notifications and your profile.
02. Rdio: the minimalist
Rdio (opens in new tab) is similar to Spotify insofar as it allows for free usage if you don't mind adverts and it has a catalog of around 20 million songs while also allowing for social media integration.
While it doesn't have as large a community as Spotify, it is actually easier to navigate. This is mainly due to its minimalist design which features a list of suggestions against a white background.
The two main sections are your personal music collection which is neatly split into playlists, downloads and favourites and a list of new music split into recommendations, trends, new releases etc.
One great extra feature is the radio station which is based on your own music library while the notifications are found at the top right of your screen.
03. Beats Music: the artist
Streaming service Beats Music (opens in new tab) was recently acquired by Apple for $3 billion which makes it a likely success in future.
Apple may have plans to integrate the service into iTunes which would be an exciting development. It has a 20 million song library and costs $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.
The service is laden with square interfaces in homage to the history of album covers but the whole design is extremely well done and looks arty rather than rigid.
When you press the 'Play' button the music player appears at the bottom of the screen and on the left of the screen you can search for music, browse through your personal collection or update your profile.
Unfortunately, library modification can only be done through the app which is frustrating; this means you can only play your library on your computer.
Next page: three more online music services with killer UI