Stream driven: the best digital music services

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 June, 2015, 6:13am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 June, 2015, 8:58pm

Buying CDs and records may become a thing of the past as the music industry moves towards digital music. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s report for 2015, digital music revenue has increased each year since 2009. Last year it generated US$6.9 billion.
Despite the progress, some countries are taking more time to take up payable music streaming services. The report says that progress on the mainland is slower due to an “undeveloped culture of paying for music and a history of piracy.” The situation has seen improvement though, with the digital music market increasing by 5.6 per cent in 2014.
Although there are over 400 digital music services worldwide, only a fraction are available in Hong Kong. What is the difference between them? See for yourself.


Spotify Premium
60-day free trial
Cost: HK$48/month
Family option: 50 per cent off each added account
Play any song (unlimited skips)
Download playlists and listen offline
No ads
Better sound quality
Customise playlists
Music search engine
Ready-made playlists
Artist/song radio  

Free alternative: Spotify Free

Apple Music
3 month free trial starting June 30
Cost: US$9.99/month 
Family option: US$14.99/month, max 6 people per account
-Includes music already in iTunes library
-Can add any album/song from music library to personal iTunes account
-Listeners can see anything artists want to share about their music (photos, explanations of songs, etc.) Listeners can comment on these posts and artists can directly reply
-Siri voice command to play music
-iCloud feature to store music
Customisable stations

Free alternative: iTunes Radio

Line Music App
2 month free trial
1,000 yen (HK$63) for unlimited access
500 yen for 20 hours
1.5 million tracks from Sony, Universal, Apex (plan to reach 30 million by 2016)

Tidal (Jay-Z’s music app)
30 day free trial for Premium and HiFi
Tidal Premium
Cost: HK$48/month
-Standard sound quality
-High definition music videos
-Music streaming guided by editorial suggestions
-Available offline
-Access to more than 30 million songs and 75,000 music videos
Tidal HiFi
Cost: HK$98/month
-Lossless Hi-fi sound quality
-High definition music videos
-All other features of Premium version

KKBOX (Taiwanese company)
7 day free trial
-10+ million tracks from more than 500 international music labels
-Available offline
-Rolling lyrics during songs
-Users can interact with singers through texting in the app
-Hong Kong version only available in Chinese, mainly for users who like Mando-/Canto-pop