With Christmas just days away, have you found a gift for everyone on your list? For some of us, leaving it down to the wire is one of our treasured holiday traditions! But let me suggest a gift that does not require you to brave the parking lot at the mall. Music streaming services are a gift that can be enjoyed by virtually anyone. And let’s be honest, is there anything better than a gift that keeps on giving all year long? But which service should you choose? There are a plethora of streaming services out there, and it can be difficult to find the right fit. Here to help is the ultimate guide to my top 5 music streaming services.


Price: $4.99/month

Yes, Pandora is still around, and for good reason! It’s great song-shuffling, radio-style play for the casual music fan who wants to hear more of their favourite style. Earlier this year, the service acquired subscription streaming service Rdio, which could indicate a streaming addition coming soon.



Price: $9.99/month for premium, $19.99/month for HiFi

While Tidal might be having a wave of CEO trouble (pun intended), don’t count this service out yet. Jay Z’s streaming service is the newest of the five services on this list, and has access to music by many super-star artists (Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Madonna, to name a few).

Users also get exclusive content and perks, like pre-sale tickets or music videos. The HiFi level also provides Lossless high fidelity sound quality, if you’re into that kind of thing.



Price: $9.99/month

Google Play Music is perfect for a friend with so much music in their personal library that they don’t have space to store it. This service allows subscribers to store 50,000 songs from their computer and stream it across multiple devices. Users also have access to 35 million songs and YouTube Red (so you can watch YouTube videos without ads). One more perk is that you can save videos/playlists for offline use in the mobile app.


Apple girl


Price: $9.99/month or $14.99/month for the family plan

Now I know you have someone on your shopping list who is an Apple purist; this is the service for them. But aside from having the Apple name, this platform really can do it all. You can stream music, build your own your library, or listen in on the Beats 1 radio shows from the likes of DJ Zane Lowe, Pharrell, Dr. Dre, Drake and Jaden Smith.



Price: $9.99/month

Aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly, Spotify is great for those who love a good playlist and discovering new music. No matter your mood, genre of choice, or special occasion, Spotify has a playlist for that. Additionally, the “Discover Weekly” feature compiles a list of songs based on the music you listen to. If you use the app, you can also save music for offline listening.

The Loudness War

Is music that much louder now? Is dynamic range a thing of the past? Yes!

For those who are not familiar with dynamic range, it is the ratio between the largest and smallest possible values of a changeable quantity in signals like sound and light.

The loudness war is the result of artists trying to make their tracks sound as loud as possible because listeners perceive loud music as better sounding music. This could potentially give the artist an edge over the other guy. As most of DJ’s and Producers know, however, pushing your tracks to be as loud as possible is no longer advantageous, as it has become the status quo. 

So what are the pros and cons of pushing your tracks this loud? Based on my experience as a DJ, louder music definitely sounds more energetic in a nightclub. The main drawback is our ears. YES I said it!!! The human ear can only take so much loudness at a constant level before it becomes fatigued to the point where sounds begin blending into one another, and therefor nothing sounds as good. 

When you listen to a big name DJ’s set, you will notice that most of them start with a big bang when they begin. How do they achieve this? By starting with a piece of music that is noticeably quieter than the rest of their set. When the music drops, the audience experiences a dramatic change in dynamic range. You might also notice that after 10-15 minutes of hard hitting club bangers, the DJ will give the listeners 4-5 minute breaks by playing less energetic music. These artists effectively use dynamic range to create a much more enjoyable experience. 

At the end of the day, most mainstream music will be pushed to its maximum, and display very little dynamic range. If you ask me this is a generational trend in the age of digital music. I’d like to have your input on this topic: what have your experiences been? Whether you are a DJ or just a music fan, let’s continue the conversation on twitter. You can find me at @iampixelthief.