Data may come handy in many situations, but it can be very expensive and users try their best to save it. In general, due to the limited amounts and high costs, people tend to use data only when it is strictly necessary. It is important to avoid wasting data, but you may still want or need to use it for tasks like streaming online media. Compared to video, music streaming consumes less data, but over time, it can build up to be a high amount. This is why you may wonder how much bandwidth is actually used when you are streaming music. Here we will take a closer look at the amount of data that popular streaming solutions like iHeartradio, Pandora and Spotify use.
How much data is used when you listen to music online?
Thankfully, all these music streaming services give you the chance to choose in which quality you want to listen to your music. If you are concerned about the amount of data that is being used, you can select a low quality option and leave the high quality only for when you are using a WiFi connection.
How much data does Pandora use?
The precise amount of data that you will use when you are streaming with Pandora will depend on different factors. If you have a free account and are currently listening to music using the web version, the data will stream at 64k AAC+. If you are a paid user, this will be increased to up to 192kbps. The situation is different if you are using the app because in that case, you go up to 64k AAC+, depending on the quality of your network and your device. In order to save data, you need to ensure that the Higher Quality Audio box is not checked on the app.
How much data does Spotify use?
Spotify provides many options in terms of music quality. If you are using your mobile, the standard quality is 96 kbps per second which is competitive when compared to other solutions. The high bitrate streaming options supported by Spotify is what makes the service stand out. If the amount of data used is not a major concern for you, then you can increase the bitrate that is used to 160 kbps, or even go as high as 320 kbps in order to get the best possible sound quality that you can get.
How much data does iHeartRadio use?
This music subscription service was launched after the other options that we have mentioned here. The music plays at 12kbps, meaning that it is in the middle range when compared to Spotify and Pandora.
What does this mean for your data?
We have discussed the bitrate settings that you can select, but what is the actual impact that this has on your data. This can be worked out manually using the rule of 2.4MB of data per minute with 320Kbps quality. For instance, if you want to find out how much data per hour a 64Kbps stream uses, you will do the following:
2.4MB divided by 320Kbps = 0.0075
0.0075 multiplied by 64Kbps = 0.48MB
0.48 multiploed by 60 mins = 28.8 Megabytes per hour
Pandora is the service with the lowest bitrate and when you use Pandora on the 64Kbps setting, you will use about 30MB of data per hour. If you increase a level, Pandora and iHearRadio’s 128Kbps uses 57.6MB per hour, while the 160Kbps supported by Spotify uses around 70MB per hour. If you opt for the higher level settings, the 192Kbps setting that Pandora offers, uses nearly 86.4 in one hour. Spotify’s 320Kbps service can use 150MB in one hour, which is a lot.
What are the options available?
Thankfully, if data usage is a big concern for you, there are many alternatives that you can consider. If you have a premium account with the services mentioned in this list, you will be able to listen to music without requiring an internet connection. You can simply connect your phone to a WiFi network, download the music that you want to listen to and then you will have a playlist ready for when you are offline. In addition, it should be mentioned that the amount of data that these services use is significantly lower than what video streaming services consume. Keep in mind that if you decide to stream a video on Netflix with an HD setting, you will use 3GB of data in just one hour. The amount of data used with audio streaming services pales in comparison.
While consuming a lot of data can be a major concern due to the high costs associated and the caps imposed by providers, the good news is that there are many solutions that you can try in order to be able to stream music without using up your data. You can use a lower quality streaming setting or just download music before going out. There is always something that you can try. If you have an unlimited plan and want to get the best possible quality to enjoy your favorite music, it is advisable to try Spotify’s 320Kbps service as it offers an incredible listening experience when you are on the go.