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How to save money on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and more

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I’ve been living the life of a music streaming nomad for a while now.

Music streaming services including Spotify and Apple Music typically charge $10 a month or more for access to their vast on-demand catalogs, I’ve managed to pay far less by bouncing between them, taking advantage of cut-rate promotions, and free trials along the way. So far, I’ve gotten a couple years of streaming music for about $20 total.

I say this not to brag, but to point out that you may be able to follow the same strategy. All that is required is a willingness to be flexible and the ability to keep an eye on business.

Don’t miss TechHive’s recommendations for the best music streaming services.

The economic flows of Tidal

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Jared Newman / Foundry

My journey into streaming music nomadism began a couple of years ago when Best Buy offered a three-month subscription to Tidal’s HiFi Plus Family music plan for just $2 total. (The plan normally costs $22.49 a month.) I skipped on that deal, then canceled immediately after signing up to avoid getting billed at the end.

Just like Spotify and Apple Music, Tidal streams millions of songs on demand to a variety of devices, including phones, computers, and smart speakers. While Best Buy’s Tidal Deals used to be limited-time deals, they now appear to be a fixture. Go to BestBuy websiteand you’ll see all three Tidal plans: HiFi, HiFi Plus, and HiFi Plus Family, priced at $1 for your first three months.

Here’s where things get interesting: Apparently, these offers are only for new subscribers. But I have found that it is possible to register more than once, even using the same email address. If you wait until your current membership expires, you may be able to re-enroll at the discounted price.

Note that these subscriptions are handled through Best Buy, not Tidal. Once you have subscribed, you can unsubscribe Best Buy’s subscription portal. There’s also no need to wait until your three months are almost up. Canceling immediately should still get you the entire discounted period.

Apple Music’s extended trials

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Jared Newman / Foundry

Not to be outdone, Apple is offering their own multi-month trials of Apple Music, available at four-month increments through Best BuyAND quarterly increases through Target.

Again, you might assume that these offers are only available to new subscribers. But no, a quick look at Best Buy shows that returning subscribers—those who previously signed up and then unsubscribed—are also eligible. And while both Target and Best Buy say you can only redeem these offers once, I’ve had success redeeming them multiple times. (If you have adults in your family and you all use iPhones, you can also have their trials redeemed and used Apple Home Sharing to share access.)

As with Tidal above, you can cancel the Apple Music trial immediately after registration and still get the full trial period.

Amazon Music Unlimited Free Trial

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Jared Newman / Foundry

Over the years, I’ve redeemed several extended trials to Amazon Music Unlimited. In some cases, I’ve even bought a cheap Echo speaker as a promotional offer.

While the company doesn’t offer any Echo deals as of this writing, it does offer on a regular basis three months of Music Unlimited for free (as of this writing, the deal is limited to one month). If you haven’t signed up for a while, you may also be eligible to get this deal again. (A quick check shows they are, despite the times I’ve already tried the service.)

Again, make sure you do cancel the service immediately after signing upso that you are not automatically charged in the end.

Spotify offers

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Jared Newman / Foundry

While Spotify isn’t as generous with its extended trials, it often delivers too three months free for new subscribers (as of this writing, the deal is limited to one month). If you don’t mind leaving your playlists every time, you could theoretically use secondary or masked email addresses to redeem these trial offers more than once.

The company also sometimes offers return offers for new subscribers, so by signing up and then canceling, you could be opening yourself up to more music streaming offers down the road.

Pay attention to the gaps

The nomadic approach to music streaming isn’t without its drawbacks. It requires adapting to a number of different music services, each with its own interface, and you won’t be able to easily move your library and playlists between them. (Services TuneMyMusic AND Soundiiz they let you transfer playlists, but both limit how much you can move for free.)

However, the approach works for me as someone who isn’t married to music streaming subscriptions in the first place. I still prefer buying music rather than renting itand using a Plex servers to stream from anywhere. But picking up the one-time subscription helps when I’m in discovery mode and want to check out new bands or albums.

Even if you’re not a music collector, there are other ways to bridge the gap between discounts and extended trials. Tidal, for example, now offers a free tier to compete with Spotify, and you can listen to the complete catalogue without subscription on laptops and desktops. You can also control radio style apps like Pandora OR LastFMsettle for Amazon Prime Music’s shuffle modeor check out unusual streaming sources like Suite with pool, relistAND Taper section.

Ultimately, the dynamic reminds me of what we are also seeing in streaming video, where companies rely on inertia to keep subscribers after luring them in with trials or extended deals. By taking a more proactive approach, you’ll still be ahead even as the cost of streaming services goes up.

A version of this column first appeared in Jared’s Advisor newsletter. Registration get tips like this every Tuesday.