I got an email yesterday announcing that the Slacker Radio Plus subscription I have will no longer include offline streaming, as of 12/31/2017. This is a bummer for me, since that’s the main reason I pay $4 per month for Plus. My data plan from Verizon only includes 3 GB per month, and I get pretty close to that most months, so I can’t really stream music over Verizon’s network unless I change my data plan.
To keep the offline streaming feature of Slacker, I’d need to upgrade to their $10/month Premium plan. That’s basically equivalent to Amazon Unlimited, or Apple Music, or Spotify. I’d get full access to their whole catalog, being able to listen to whatever I want whenever I want. (The Plus subscription just lets you listen to streaming radio. You’d can’t pick exactly which songs you want to listen to.)
I started using Slacker back in 2014. Back then, I had a 4 GB data plan, so I could do a little online streaming (though not that much). I’ve been pretty happy with it. I’m currently also using Amazon Prime Music, which is free with my Prime subscription. The iOS app for Amazon Music is pretty good, and it does also include offline streaming. It doesn’t, though, have the same kind of variety in streaming stations that Slacker has, and it has only a limited subset of the music that would be available if I went the next step and signed up for Amazon’s Music Unlimited service, which would cost $8 per month (after a $1 three-month trial).
I could also give Apple Music a try. I thought about that when it was announced in 2015, but it didn’t look like a good idea then. Looking at it again now, it’s still maybe a little iffy. It does have offline capability, but I’d need to check on how easy it is to use. And I’d need to review things to make sure I can set it up without screwing up my iTunes libraries on my Mac and PC.
Spotify still seems to be the 800-pound gorilla of streaming services. I’m considering Spotify simply because so many other people are on it. I often see links to interesting Spotify playlists on Reddit or elsewhere on the Internet. (I never see links to Apple Music playlists, and I’m not even sure if you can share them.) But, last I checked, Spotify’s iOS app isn’t very good for offline streaming. It’s possible, but it apparently doesn’t give you much control.
And as long as I’m looking around, I might as well look at Pandora too. I used to pay for a Plus subscription with them, before I switched to Slacker. Pandora Plus is now $5/month, and includes limited offline capabilities. Probably not enough to justify the cost. Premium is $10/month, and lets you copy anything down for offline listening.
My cheapest option would be to drop Slacker entirely, and rely on Amazon Prime Music for offline listening, along with podcasts and old-fashioned MP3s synced to my phone. That’s probably what I’ll do for now. Maybe at some point I’ll talk myself into being OK with paying $8 or $10 per month for a streaming music service, but not quite yet.