Depending on how important new music is to you, you may have a paid streaming service doing all the legwork when it comes to finding something new to listen to. The two main competitors are Spotify and Apple Music. Both offer different features but which one is actually more worth the cost of a subscription? Let’s take a look.
Spotify debuted in 2009 and quickly became the world’s most popular music streaming service, making Pandora old news. Although it still holds that title today, Apple Music is actually the most popular music streaming service in the US.
It’s safe to say that Apple Music’s popularity in the country is due to the fact that the iPhone makes up 9 of the Top 10 Smartphones in the US. On top of that, Apple makes it easier to use its streaming service because it’s built right into the iPhone and Mac music apps so you don’t have to download an extra app to use it. More on that later. They offer a version of Apple Music for other platforms but it isn’t as functional as the iPhone version.
On the flip side, Spotify is available to anyone who has any type of smartphone as well as any type of computer. This easily explains why it’s #1 in the entire world.
If you’re counting by numbers, Apple Music wins with 45 Million songs against Spotify’s 35 Million. But if we’re being honest, you probably wouldn’t notice one way or the other. However, Spotify offers some low-key artists that originate from Soundcloud or YouTube, whereas Apple Music and iTunes usually stick with the legit, more established artists.
Apple is much better for those with iPhones and iTunes because the fact that Apple Music is built-in, you can easily add tracks to your personal library with the touch of the ‘+’ button next to each song. You actually don’t even have to purchase the song to add it to your personal playlists, but if you decide later on to cancel your subscription, those songs will disappear from your iTunes Library.
Spotify has the advantage when it comes to playlists made by other users that you can listen to and follow. This is a very useful feature when curating a list of songs for school or your personal blog and you want to add to something you already have. Apple does not yet offer this feature nor do I think they will anytime soon.
Spotify also recently started including podcasts available through the app which is very convenient for podcast junkies. Apple doesn’t offer this in their Apple Music app as of yet but they will probably eventually merge the Podcasts app with it.
Although you can’t listen to podcasts directly through Apple Music, they do offer Beats1 Radio. It’s like your average radio station but available exclusively through the app. It’s a great way to get exposed to new music and artists and listen to cool shows. A personal favorite is Time Crisis, hosted by Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig.
The only issue with Beats1 is that it’s incredibly complicated to navigate and although you can go back to listen to past episodes of its shows, the app doesn’t really allow you to save the last spot you were listening to during a show. It’s really annoying to have to go back to the episodes of the shows you were listening to and guess where you were before you got out of the car.
If you’re already an iPhone user then you will probably feel more at home with the Apple Music App. It’s pretty much just iTunes with the ability to listen to entire songs and albums instead of just a 20-second clip. However, if you are a non-iPhone user who has Apple Music then it may take some getting used to. It’s pretty self-explanatory when searching and adding songs to your playlists and especially easy to find exactly what you’re looking for without search results being muddled with random content.
Spotify’s user interface isn’t terrible but I would say it’s a bit complicating. All music apps are generally similar in usability but sometimes it seems like Spotify overdoes it. So much information is thrown at you from the moment you sign on, albeit sometimes useful information that can lead you to some new music. I also find it sort of annoying that when I’m searching for a particular song I get a list of covers and similar sounding titles that hide the actual song I’m looking for. As for deciding who’s better in this category, I’d say it’s subjective. Apple Music for iPhone users and Spotify for everyone else.
Side Note: Spotify is compatible with Alexa if you use an Amazon Echo and all you have to do is tell her to play a song or one of your playlists. You can use your Apple Music with Alexa as well, but it requires an extra step to have the Echo connect to your phone or computer via Bluetooth and then having Siri play the music. Once Siri is playing something, only then can you have Alexa take the controls. It’s not as hard as it sounds.
Unlike Apple Music, Spotify offers a free version of their app that includes commercial ads but if you want to take advantage of their full content then you may want to opt for the premium subscription. The price for either premium streaming service is pretty much the same. They both run at $10/mo, which isn’t bad at all. If you’re a student you can get both for an even better cost of $4.99/mo. You just apply via the subscriptions page and use a valid student email address and it’ll automatically adjust the rates. Or you can just go to MyUniDays.
Again, it’s hard to say which is better in this category without being biased, but I will say that you’ll get more bang for your buck with Spotify due to the type of content it offers. Once again, Apple users will benefit and hit the ground running with Apple Music.
If I had to make a choice between the two without copping out and calling a tie, I’d say that the winner is Spotify. Does that mean that I’m going to pay for the subscription? No, I’ll just keep using the free version and stick with my trusty Apple Music subscription.
What are your thoughts? Which service are you using and what do you like about it?