Data is expensive. And with many people having limited amounts that they can use each month, it is crucial that none of this data gets wasted.
One big data eater can be streaming music on the internet. While the amount music uses pales in comparison to the amount video streaming services use, it can still build up to a large amount.
Because of this, you may find yourself wondering the answer to the question "How much bandwidth does streaming music actually use?". Please read on to find out how Spotify, iHeartradio, and Pandora compare when it comes to data use.
How Much Data Does Internet Music Use?
The good thing about all these services is that you can actually choose the quality of the music you are listening. This means that should you be worried about the amount of data you are using you can choose a low quality setting for when you are using data and a higher setting for when you have wifi access.
The exact amount of data you will use streaming with Pandora depends on a number of variables. If you are a free user and listening on the web your data will stream at 64k AAC+. If you pay for the service it will go up to 192kbps.
However, this isn’t the case if you are using the app. Using the app, the maximum you will receive is 64k AAC+ depending on the quality of your network and your device. If you want to save data then make sure the “Higher Quality Audio” box isn’t checked on the app!
Spotify gives you many options when it comes to music quality. On mobile, the standard quality is 96 kbps per second which is comparable to other services.
However, Spotify really comes into its own due to its high bitrate streaming options. If you aren’t as worried about the amount of data you use then you have the option to increase the bitrate used to 160 kbps or even a massive 320 kbps to give you the best possible sound quality.
What Does All This Mean?
Well, now you know the bitrate settings you can choose, you probably want to know what that actually means for your data.
The manual way to work it out is using the rule of 2.4MB of data per minute using 320Kbps quality. So, let's say we want to work out how much data per hour a 64Kbps stream uses:
2.4MB divided by 320Kbps = 0.0075
0.0075 multiplied by 64Kbps = 0.48MB
0.48 multiplied by 60 (mins) = 28.8MB (Megabytes) per hour
So, back to business...
Well, the service with the lowest bitrate is Pandora. Using Pandora on the 64Kbps setting you will go through around 30MB of data per hour.
Step up a level and Pandora and iHeartRadio’s 128Kbps service will use 57.6MB per hour, while Spotify’s 160Kbps will use about 70MB per hour.
Moving into the higher level settings and Pandora’s 192Kbps option will use about 86.4MB in an hour, while Spotify’s 320Kbps service will use a massive 150MB in just one hour!
The Good News
The good news here is that if you are worried about your data usage you have plenty of options still available. All three of these services offer offline listening for customers on the premium membership levels.
This means that you can simply connect your phone to wifi and download the songs to listen to before you go out.
As well as this, you should take comfort from the fact that the amount any of these services use is significantly less than any video streaming services. In fact, if you chose to stream a video on Netflix using an HD setting you would be working your way through 3 GB of data per hour! Audio streaming seems like nothing in comparison.
So, the good news is that even if you are worried about data you have plenty of options when it comes to streaming music. Whether using a lower quality streaming setting or simply downloading music before you go out, there is a solution for everyone!
Of course, if you have an unlimited plan then it is hard to look beyond Spotify’s 320Kbps service for the best possible music quality on the move.