What’s the difference between streaming music and downloading music?

Streaming music and downloading music are two different ways of accessing and consuming music online. Here are the main differences between the two:

Access and Ownership

Streaming Music: When you stream music, you are accessing the content in real-time directly from the internet. You do not actually possess a physical or digital copy of the music file. It is more like listening to radio stations, where the content is played as long as you have an active internet connection.

Downloading Music: When you download music, you are obtaining a copy of the music file onto your device (computer, smartphone, etc.). Once downloaded, you can listen to the music offline without needing an internet connection, and you have ownership of the file until you choose to delete it.


Streaming Music: Since you are not storing the music files on your device, it does not consume any storage space. However, you need a reliable internet connection to stream the music seamlessly.

Downloading Music: When you download music, it takes up storage space on your device. The amount of space required depends on the file size and the number of songs you download.

Internet Connection

Streaming Music: You need a stable internet connection to stream music. If the connection is slow or intermittent, it may result in buffering or interruptions in the music playback.

Downloading Music: Once you have downloaded the music, you don't need an internet connection to listen to it. This is beneficial when you’re in areas with no internet access or when you want to conserve data.


Streaming Music: Many streaming platforms offer free versions with ads or limited features. However, to access the full catalog and additional features, you usually need a subscription, which comes with a monthly fee.

Downloading Music: Downloading music may involve a one-time payment per track or album, or you might opt for a subscription-based service that allows you to download as much music as you want during the subscription period. You may also choose to download music from Internet Labels, otherwise known as Netlabels, which often offer their music for free and legal download so that you may help spread the word. We, blocSonic, are one such netlabel with an extensive catalog of free music releases that you may download.

Legal Considerations

Streaming Music: When you stream music from legitimate platforms, you are generally adhering to copyright laws, as these services have obtained licenses to provide the music to users.

Downloading Music: Downloading music from unauthorized sources or through file-sharing websites can often lead to copyright infringement issues. Though, there are a wide variety of sources for legal downloads that will keep you well within the law.

Economic Considerations

Streaming Music: When you stream music, you are absolutely adhering to copyright laws, however you are also choosing the method of music listening that least benefits music artists and independent labels. It’s become increasingly apparent that artists benefit very little, economically, from streaming.

Downloading Music: If you’re choosing to purchase downloadable music via legitimate music platforms, you’re choosing a method of music listening that is far more econimically beneficial to music artists and independent labels.

Ultimately, the choice between streaming and downloading music depends on your preferences, internet connectivity, storage space, and budget. Many people prefer streaming for its convenience and vast music libraries, while others opt for downloading to have offline access and more control over their music collection. Either way, be sure that when you find artists you love, show them support by purchasing whatever physical goods that they’re selling. This is the number one thing you can do. Downloading the music for free and streaming it on digital outlets simply doesn’t provide nearly as much economic benefit to artists. It’s time music fans do all they can to help prop up artists they love!