Whether you are in the heat of the music industry or an avid fan, you are using at least one of the many streaming services offered today. In the virtual world, many platforms have developed different ways to provide music entertainment to their listeners. Not only do you have the option to stream music to listen to, but you also can watch live streams in the absence of live shows.

For the Artists

If you are an artist trying to make it in the industry, the decline in live entertainment significantly impacted your life. Artists often need live shows to get their music out there. On the flip side, fans were unable to see the artists they know and love, perform. The rise of virtual live streams came to play. Here is a list of the most used streaming services for cyber entertainment and some ideas to think about when choosing between the different platforms.

Zoom

The Zoom platform rose at the peak of the pandemic as schools and businesses needed a streaming service to provide live calls for lectures and meetings. With all of the interactive options available, people started to use their accounts for other benefits such as live lectures and concerts! A much more entertaining use of time if you ask me.

The Zoom application offers interactive buttons such as the raise hand feature, the chat feature, buttons to queue the presenter to change speed, and the ability to add backgrounds to your video profile. Some benefits to this platform are the ability to share your screen and sound with all participants. This way the participants have access to sound and everyone can view the same experience while interacting in the chat.

“If you’re looking for a live-streaming service that provides the highest interactivity & engagement within your community of virtual festival attendees, Zoom would be best the software to utilize.” – Tomer Vagner, Up&Up College Music Festival Ambassador

The host can also control the experience by allowing people into the call, requiring registration, and even muting or kicking out participants. Through Zoom, the security aspect has improved a lot and is a top benefit to hosting interactive virtual events. To get participants, marketing Zoom events is a key factor since participants will need a link to access the call.

YouTube

Everyone has known and loved YouTube for MANY years. The best part now – YouTube allows us to view artists in a live format. There are different ways to engage with YouTube Live, but the most successful events I have seen included countdowns and chat features. There is no video aspect when it comes to these events, so it is more controlled while allowing participants to engage in the chat while watching a video. YouTube allows users to set a timer countdown for an event being streamed and then will automatically play the video uploaded for participants. The benefit to this is that the event does not have to be fully performed Live if the artist chooses not to, but can be presented Live to viewers for the first time!

“I’ve watched YouTube live streams for multiple artists shows and I think that’s a good way for the artist to do a show to a large audience because it’s an easy service to access and people will tune in” – Jack Tunkel, DJ and student at Pennsylvania State University

Instagram

Instagram has grown exponentially over the years! Starting as an app to document the food people were eating and the location they were eating it, this social media platform is one of the tops to showcase the lives of every user. A helpful feature to Instagram is being able to promote yourself through hard posts and story posts. If an artist chooses to showcase themselves through an Instagram Live Event, they can market it on the platform itself, which makes it easily accessible for viewers. Users can also receive a notification when an artist they follow goes live and a “Live Bubble” pops up on their Home Page.

The benefit of this platform is the quick and easy engagement offered. Instagram Live allows artists to hop on with little equipment and chat with their viewers through video while their fans type in comments. Most fans like this engagement because it feels more intimate when artists look at the chat and answer their questions. There are also buttons available where fans have the option to send hearts flying across the page as an artist speaks or performs.

Twitch

Twitch is interesting because it has been notoriously used for streaming gamers. However, artists are starting to see the benefit of using this platform since they can directly make money through it. There are widgets set up where people can donate money directly to an artist who is streaming. Artists can also require users to pay for a subscription to watch their streams. I have seen this particularly beneficial since artists have not been able to make money off of their usual hard copy ticket sales. Many artists have done benefit shows through Twitch and donated the proceeds to an organization being showcased at the top of their streaming page. Some benefits to Twitch are the monetary aspect and an entirely different crowd reach than the other platforms.

For the Listeners

If you are a fan just trying to listen to your favorite music, there are an overwhelming amount of platforms available for music streaming. How do you choose which one you want? Which one is worth paying for? Here is a list of the most used streaming services for listening to your favorite music.

Spotify

Spotify is one of those streaming services that are similar to social media. This platform has interactive features such as “Friend Activity.” Here users can see what their friends are listening to and have access to any public playlists. You can make as many playlists as you want and name it however you want! There is a lot of options to personalize your playlist with a name, description, and picture of your choice.

Spotify also creates “Daily Mix” playlists individualized to each user based on their music trends. The goal is to provide users with new music to enjoy.

This platform is completely free unless you want all the fun features and no ads. A Premium Account costs $9.99/month with no-ads, full access to playlists, and skipping songs as many times as you want.

SoundCloud

SoundCloud is a platform where anyone can upload a track and anyone can comment on it. Some platforms require artist authentication or an “artist invite link”, but SoundCloud is pretty open! This platform allows users to find covers, as well as original music not be present on other streaming services. This is where the Big Bootie Mixes from Two Friends started and many other electronic DJs first released their mixes.

The interactive portion of this platform allows users to comment on any part of the song. When other users listen to a track, the comment pops up at a certain point in the song. It is cool to see the reactions of users during transitions or drops as they happen in a track.

SoundCloud also started a tier program where there are different payments for users. There is a free option, which includes ads and an internet connection is needed. SoundCloud Go is $4.99/month which allows for offline listening and an ad-free experience. Lastly, SoundCloud Go+ is $9.99/month which adds access to a full catalog of music, high-quality audio, and DJ tools integration.

Apple Music

Apple Music is the replacement of our childhood friend, iTunes. Instead of paying per song, this platform allows you to pay for a subscription of downloaded songs. Users can create a library full of downloaded music, accessible on all of their Apple devices! The downside is that if users cancel their subscriptions, all the downloaded music disappears.

There is, however, a “Browse” feature to find new music and create playlists along with a “Radio” option. Users can choose Radios based on artists they enjoy or moods they are in. Apple Music will provide a Radio playlist with music based on that choice!

Apple Music does not have a free version, so users can only listen to previously bought music without a subscription. For the full experience including no ads, a subscription costs $9.99/month after a 3-month free trial.

“The Apple Music interface is more cohesive with an iPhone compared to other services.” – George Lewis, Executive Director for Movin’ On Music Festival 2021

Pandora

Pandora is a Music Radio that creates stations individualized to each user. This platform analyzes the user’s music taste with “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” on the station content. Different stations are available, similar to playlists, whether the user wants to listen to a particular artist or genre.

This platform contains a “My Collection” portion where users can save different stations to play again another time. The goal of this platform is to provide users with new music and to create stations that users will enjoy.

Pandora does offer a free version where users have access to stations are with support from ads in between songs. Other tiers include Pandora Plus for $4.99/month and Pandora Premium for $9.99/month. The difference in Pandora Premium is the ability to listen to stations offline and users can search for specific songs.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article proved to help no matter where you find yourself in the music industry! There are so many streaming services for many different types of engagement. If you found this article helpful, consider sharing it with your friends or on your social media platforms!

Written by: Madisen Mortensen

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