What is Streaming Music?

In an era where digital technology has revolutionised the way we consume media, music streaming stands out as one of the most significant advancements. Gone are the days when you had to physically own music in the form of CDs or vinyl records. Today, millions of singles and albums are available at your fingertips, thanks to the power of the internet and streaming technology.

This article delves into the concept of streaming music, explaining what it entails, the essentials you need to start streaming, and the comparative advantages of using Wi-Fi versus Bluetooth for this purpose. By the end of this guide, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of music streaming and how it fits into modern life.



Streaming music refers to the process of listening to audio content in real-time over the internet without the need to download and store it. Unlike earlier digital formats where you purchased and downloaded individual songs or albums and saved them to the memory on your iPod or MP3 player, streaming allows you to access vast libraries of music instantly.

This is made possible through platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music, which host extensive collections of songs and albums on their computer servers that users can access for a monthly subscription fee and playback on any suitable streaming device. They work in the same way as TV services such as Netflix and Prime.

When you stream music, the audio is sent in compact digital data packets over the internet to your device, where it is decoded and played back through that service's own dedicated app. This means that your device doesn't need to store large audio files, saving storage space and allowing you to switch between songs and albums instantly. The convenience and accessibility of audio streaming have made it the preferred choice for many music lovers worldwide.

What is Streaming Music? - Audizio Brescia Wi-Fi streamer with DAB and CD playerWhat is Streaming Music? - Audizio Brescia Wi-Fi streamer with DAB and CD player


  • Real-Time Access and Continuous Updates: Streaming music offers real-time access to an ever-expanding library of songs, albums, and playlists. Unlike physical media or downloaded files, streaming platforms continuously update their catalogues, adding new releases and exclusive content regularly. This ensures that you always have the latest music at your fingertips.

  • Personalised Listening Experience: Streaming services leverage sophisticated algorithms to personalise your listening experience. By analysing your listening habits, favourite genres, and artists, these platforms create customised playlists and recommendations tailored to your tastes. Features like Discover Weekly on Spotify or For You on Apple Music introduce you to new music that aligns with your preferences, enhancing your overall experience.

  • Flexibility and Mobility: One of the significant advantages of streaming music is the flexibility and mobility it offers. Whether at home, commuting, working out, or travelling, you can access your music library from any internet-connected device that can run the app. This mobility is further enhanced by offline listening options provided by premium subscriptions, allowing you to download songs and playlists to listen back without an internet connection.

  • Social Sharing and Connectivity: Streaming platforms also facilitate social connectivity and sharing. You can create and share playlists with friends, follow what your favourite artists are listening to, and even see what your friends are playing in real time. This social aspect of streaming fosters a sense of community and discovery, enabling you to explore new music through your social network. It’s a great way of enjoying the music you love, and broadening your tastes with new artists and genres.

  • Audio Quality and Technological Advancements: While early streaming services were criticised for lower audio quality compared to physical formats like CDs, advancements in streaming technology and internet speeds have significantly improved sound quality. High-fidelity streaming options, such as those offered by Tidal and Amazon Music HD, deliver CD-quality or even higher resolution ‘Hi-Res’ audio streams, satisfying even the most discerning audiophiles.

    It's worth noting that the ability to listen to high-resolution audio is currently dictated by the capabilities and audio ‘codecs’ that your specific device features, though new phones, tablets, and streaming devices will have these as standard.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Streaming music is a cost-effective solution for accessing a vast music library. Instead of purchasing individual albums or songs, a subscription gives you unlimited access to millions of tracks. Free tiers supported by advertisements make the services accessible to everyone, though opting for a premium subscription removes ads and unlocks additional features like offline listening and higher audio quality.

  • Environmental Impact: From an environmental perspective, streaming music reduces the need for physical production and distribution of CDs and vinyl records. This leads to a decrease in the use of plastic, packaging materials, and transportation resources, making streaming a more sustainable option for consuming music.

    In summary, streaming music revolutionises the way we access and enjoy audio content, offering unparalleled convenience, personalised experiences, high audio quality, and social connectivity. Whether you're an avid music enthusiast or a casual listener, streaming platforms provide a versatile and dynamic way to engage with your favourite tunes.

What is Streaming Music? - Ipad with SpotifyWhat is Streaming Music? - Ipad with Spotify


  • A Device: This could be a smartphone, tablet, home computer, smart speaker, or any internet-enabled device capable of running music streaming apps or a web browser service. Most modern devices come pre-installed with popular streaming apps or can easily download them from app stores.

    Personal devices like phones have become the new ‘walkmans’, with the addition of some wired or even wireless Bluetooth headphones giving you access to your favourite music from anywhere, all in the best digital quality.

    For home users, you can continue to use your mobile devices to stream, connecting to home Hi-Fi systems or active speakers over Bluetooth, or you can opt for a dedicated audio streaming adapter, which acts as an interface between your home internet connection and your audio system. These streamer units often include other digital audio options such as DAB radio or Internet radio.

  • An Internet Connection: A stable internet connection is crucial for streaming music. For home Hi-Fi use, decent Wi-Fi or a wired Ethernet connection is the preferred choice for reliability and speed. Your phone's mobile data can also be used, though it might incur additional charges depending on your data plan.

    As most homes have an internet connection of some kind, a streaming box or adapter is usually the best option for fuss-free home audio use.

  • A Streaming Service Subscription: Popular music streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon Music offer various subscription plans. Some of these services provide free access with advertisements, while premium subscriptions remove ads and offer additional features like offline listening and higher audio quality.

    Once you've chosen a streaming service, you'll need to create an account. This usually involves providing some personal details and, if opting for a premium service, payment information. With these essentials in place, you're ready to dive into the world of music streaming, enjoying your favourite tunes whenever and wherever you like.

What is Streaming Music? - Power Dynamics WT240A Wi-Fi Streaming AmplifierWhat is Streaming Music? - Power Dynamics WT240A Wi-Fi Streaming Amplifier


When it comes to streaming music, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have their pros and cons. Understanding these can help you choose the best option for your needs.

  • Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi streaming generally offers higher audio quality compared to Bluetooth. This is because Wi-Fi can handle larger amounts of data at faster speeds, which is ideal for streaming high-resolution audio files. Services like Tidal and Amazon Music HD, which offer high-fidelity streaming are best experienced over Wi-Fi.

    Additionally, Wi-Fi has a greater range than Bluetooth, allowing you to stream music throughout your home without interruptions and to multiple zones/rooms.

    Wi-Fi is included as standard on all home internet services, so your internet router will have Wi-Fi built-in, making your internet connection available to any suitable device wirelessly by using high-frequency radio waves.

  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth, on the other hand, is more versatile and convenient for short-range connections. It's perfect for connecting wireless headphones or portable speakers to your device. Modern Bluetooth codecs like aptX and LDAC have significantly improved audio quality, though they still generally fall short of Wi-Fi’s capabilities for high-resolution audio. Bluetooth is also incredibly easy to use, requiring minimal setup.

    Phones, tablets, laptops and many modern TVs feature Bluetooth as standard, though you want as newer ‘version’ as possible to ensure the best audio experience and things like lower battery drain. Bluetooth is currently at version 5.4 (released 2023) with any version beyond 4.2 being the ones to look for when device shopping.

    It's still a point-to-point communication though, with a maximum effective range of around 10m between the devices, meaning if you play music on the home Hi-Fi from your phone over Bluetooth and then wander out of range, it will stop playing. Depending on your particular phone it may also produce audible notifications or even phone calls over the sound system which can be annoying.

  • Comparison: Ultimately, the choice between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth depends on your specific needs. If you're an audiophile seeking the best possible sound quality and have a stable home network, Wi-Fi is the way to go. If you value portability and the convenience of quick connection, Bluetooth will serve you well for most casual listening scenarios.

    The important thing to remember is that either of these are only the link between your source device and sound system. Your internet connection either at home or on your mobile is retrieving the audio stream from your chosen service provider into the app on that device. You then use either Bluetooth or your homes Wi-Fi network to send that to active speakers, headphones, or distribute to additional devices in a multi-room audio setup.

    You can of course omit either of these wireless options and use a cabled stereo connection to your Hi-Fi amplifier directly from the streaming device.

What is Streaming Music? - Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for streaming musicWhat is Streaming Music? - Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for streaming music


The concept of streaming music has come a long way since its inception. Initially, digital music consumption was dominated by downloads, with platforms like iTunes dominating the market. The shift to streaming began in the late 2000s with the advent of platforms like Spotify, which launched in 2008, aided by advancement in the mobile Android operating system finally offering a viable alternative to Apple. These services changed the landscape by offering vast libraries of music accessible on-demand without the need for actual physical storage of audio files.


At the heart of music streaming is a technology that allows for real-time data transmission. When you press play on a song, the audio file is broken down into small data packets that are sent over the internet to be decoded by your device. The audio file is digitally buffered (time delayed and temporarily stored), which ensures that the music plays smoothly without interruptions. Advanced algorithms predict and preload data to maintain seamless playback even with fluctuating internet speeds.

Benefits Over Traditional Formats

Streaming music offers several advantages over traditional physical and digital formats:

  • Convenience: Access millions of songs anytime, anywhere. With smartphones and Bluetooth connections, it is easy to enjoy music just about anywhere you like via headphones, Hi-Fi systems, or your car audio system.

  • Cost-Effective: For a monthly fee, get access to entire music libraries without purchasing individual albums or songs, or listen for free with the addition of adverts.

  • Storage Saving: No need to store large audio files on your device.

  • Discoverability: Algorithms and curated playlists help discover new music effortlessly, leading you to expand your musical tastes.

  • Sync Across Devices: Seamless listening experience across multiple devices. Your services profile can be quickly accessed from a smartphone to a laptop, allowing you to listen to your favourite albums or playlists with ease.

Popular Music Streaming Services

Several platforms dominate the music streaming industry, each offering unique features:

  • Spotify: Known for its extensive music library, personalised playlists, and robust free tier, it is by far the most popular of the multi-platform services.

  • Apple Music: Offers high-quality audio and seamless integration with Apple devices. As with all Apple services, it is exclusive for use on Apple products only.

  • Amazon Music: Part of the Amazon ecosystem, it offers various subscription tiers, including a high-fidelity option.

  • Tidal: Caters to audiophiles with its high-resolution audio streaming.

  • Deezer: High-quality streaming service with lossless FLAC files for its premium users

  • YouTube Music: Combines traditional music streaming with video content.


To enhance your music streaming experience at home, consider investing in quality equipment:

  • High-Speed Internet Router: Ensure stable and fast internet connectivity. All home internet services offer a wired connection (Ethernet), or wireless (Wi-Fi) option as standard these days so if you have an internet connection you can easily set up a wireless network.

  • Smart Speakers: Devices like Amazon Echo or Google Nest allow for voice-controlled access to streaming services. They also offer portability as many feature rechargeable battery power and will double-up as Bluetooth speakers.

  • Hi-Fi Audio System: For audiophiles, a high-fidelity audio system with a digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) will significantly improve sound quality over any potable speaker device. Portable speakers are great, but they simply cant compete with a Hi-Fi system when it comes to sound quality and volume capability.

  • Wireless Headphones: Ideal for personal listening, with noise-cancelling features for an immersive experience. Bluetooth headphones with the latest AptX technology offer a cable-free immersive experience and are a favourite for exercise and travel use.

  • Streaming Device: Devices like Chromecast Audio or Apple TV, along with a large selection of third-party streaming adapters can connect your audio system to streaming services. Some will be designed as a Hi-Fi separate unit and may include other digital audio features such as DAB+ reception or Internet radio services.

Setting Up Your Home Streaming System

  • Choose Your Streaming Service: Decide which platform best fits your musical preferences and budget. All offer similar connectivity options so the decision is more about the audio quality they offer and the features of the particular service.

  • Connect Devices: Ensure all your devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network for seamless streaming.

  • Optimise Audio Settings: Adjust settings on your streaming service and individual devices to ensure the best possible sound quality.

  • Create Playlists: Organise your favourite tracks and discover new ones through curated playlists.

  • Integrate with Smart Home Systems: You can use smart home assistants to control your music with voice commands, and popular services such as Spotify use either web browser or app control. Many smart audio amplifiers and multi-room sound systems will include direct access to your music accounts as part of their own app-based control system.


As technology advances, the future of music streaming looks promising. We can expect higher audio quality with advancements in codecs and streaming technologies. Integration with artificial intelligence will further personalise the listening experience, predicting user preferences and curating content accordingly. Additionally, more immersive formats like spatial audio are gaining traction, promising a more dynamic listening experience.

Final Thoughts

Music streaming has revolutionised how we access and enjoy music. With the ability to listen to millions of songs instantly, it offers unparalleled convenience and discoverability. Whether you opt for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the technology behind streaming continues to evolve, providing better sound quality and user experiences.

By understanding the essentials and investing in quality equipment, you can enjoy your favourite music like never before. So, dive into the world of music streaming and explore the vast selection of music at your fingertips.