From CDs to digital downloads to streaming, things have undergone such a drastic change. With the ability to access music catalogs with millions of songs, streaming does something its forefathers could not: listening to music in real time from anywhere in the world — as long as you have signal — without paying for it. Sure, there’s usually a monthly fee, but prices usually equate to purchasing 10-15 songs.

That’s the beauty of music streaming. In essence, you’re ‘renting’ music for a very low fee. Wait for a second though, how are you to listen to it? Easy, by getting a music streaming device that will become your musical best friend. Don’t know which to choose? No worries, here are some tips to help you out.

1: Choose a Device That Supports Your Favorite Streaming Services

First and foremost, when deciding between music streaming devices, you should always consider the streaming services you’ll be using. After all, what’s the point of spending hours choosing between devices if your favorite streaming service isn’t even supported? Exactly, if you haven’t narrowed on a station yet, and have queries in mind about choosing a streaming music service, resolve them all on Lifewire[1] and choose accordingly. If you’re having trouble narrowing, here are some of the most popular stations you’ll be able to stream on your music streaming devices.

Spotify has a large catalogue comprised of millions of songs, multiple playlists from other users or from yourself, and music for every occasion — partying, relaxing, studying and even sleeping.

SoundCloud is the largest music and audio platform in the world. It’s different than other services because you can actually share your own audio, by essentially opening an avenue for you to connect with other users and share music.

Pandora differs from its streaming colleagues in that it’s geared toward radio stations as opposed to the usual musical catalogue. For example, you can start with one of your favorite artists or songs, and then Pandora will help you out by curating hundreds of stations based on your preferences.

Similar to Pandora, iHeartRadio focuses on radio and presents thousands of the country’s live radio stations. You also have stations dedicated to artists, meaning that choosing a station for artist X will give you music that’s similar to X’s music. Apart from music, you also have the option of listening to their large collection of news stations and podcasts.

SoundCloud® is the largest music and audio platform in the world. It’s different than other services because you can actually share your own audio, by essentially opening an avenue for you to connect with other users and share music.

2: Make Sure That Your Country Supports Your Chosen Streaming Services

Similar to the tip above about choosing a device that supports your favorite services, zoom out a bit and consider where you live. Most reading this will be in the US and won’t be affected by regional restrictions, but others most definitely will. Don’t make the mistake of getting a speaker that supports your favorites, but the country you live in does not.

Going into detail, Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music are all available in several countries, particularly those in North and South America, Western Europe, and parts of Asia and Australia. Others like Rhapsody are only available in the US, but Napster, its sister service, is available in the UK, France, Italy, and other parts of Europe.

In other words, do your research before the purchase.

3: Think About Use: Will You Be Hosting Parties, Traveling, Or Using It Solo?

Our final consideration is use. How will you be streaming your music? If you’ll be on the go, you should go with a portable device that can travel with you wherever you go. If on the other hand, you’ll be in the comfort of your own home, your options will grow.

If this is the case and you don’t foresee any big gatherings any time soon, you’ll do well with a single speaker that’s strong enough as a standalone device — just make sure that you can stream with it! If the opposite is true, get a couple of speakers that can connect with each other for multi-room sound. For this, you’ll do well with WiFi speakers that can connect with each other with no wires whatsoever. Not to say that you should only get a multi-room setup if you’re going to have people over; by all means, get a couple of speakers and surround yourself in a cocoon of music!

For example, speakers in the HEOS by Denon family are all music streaming devices that have Bluetooth® and WiFi connectivity and support most of the famous music streaming services[2].

Tip Roundup

With all the music streaming devices out there, you might be in a deer-in-the-headlights scenario in which you have so many choices that you freeze up and can’t decide. Counter that with the tips above, conveniently condensed below:

  1. Do your research and make sure that your favorite stations are supported by your chosen device.
  2. Do more research and make sure that your country supports your chosen station.
  3. Think of the future and consider how you’ll be using your music streaming device — will you be riding solo or will you be hosting parties?

Best of luck choosing!