Spotify is the undisputed king of music streaming on demand. It was the service that established the current streaming market model and has tens of millions of paid subscribers more than the competition, not to mention countless millions more free users. But Apple Music, known for its exclusive high-level releases and its full integration into Apple's popular iOS ecosystem, is on its heels, which makes the next question difficult to answer: between Spotify and Apple Music, what is the best?
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The truth is that Apple Music has also had impressive growth, reaching about 60 million monthly subscribers since it was launched in June 2015, almost a decade after Spotify's debut. In fact, right now it is the most popular payment transmission service in the United States. What are the greatest virtues of these services? What do they falter in? Do you know what is best for you? We analyze everything in the following comparison.
Spotify won its dominant position by force of its impressive catalog of more than 30 million songs. If we put this together with the fact that it adds more than 20,000 new songs every day, the service offers more music than your ears can hear.
Although it is true that your library has some important gaps to cover -Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift or Tool-, the Spotify catalog is extremely large.
In addition, the Swedish streaming service offers the latest releases, exclusive live sessions and several new singles directly through its New releases tab every Friday, providing an excellent range of songs from numerous artists.
However, Apple service has about 40 million songs, exceeding in this case the figure of "more than 30 million" Spotify. In addition, Apple has taken steps to obtain more exclusive than the competition, Taylor Swift's work being an excellent example.
In fact, Spotify is not very happy with the artists who sign exclusivity agreements with Apple. According to what is said, the firm will be able to alter the search rankings for those who join the Apple platform first.
In addition, there is another area where Apple Music takes advantage of its competition: the integration of the iTunes library.
Any music you have, whether purchased through the iTunes Store, taken from a physical CD or uploaded to iTunes Match, appears in your Apple Music library, giving you the option to freely explore your own content along with the standard catalog of Manzana.
Spotify offers a similar function, placing your local music files on a separate tab, but you cannot access your local music through extensive searches like you can do with Apple Music.
Winner: Apple Music
Despite all its songs and lists, the Spotify library can be a bit daunting for those who want to find new music. Anyway, the company offers a lot of useful tools to find new topics.
Playlists like Release Radar, New Music Friday and Discover Weekly offer fantastic opportunities for subscribers to get hooked on the new music. In fact, this program has 32 base genres to choose from – and at least 20 other selectable playlists and other custom playlists, such as Daily Mixes, are constantly added to the mix.
Discover Weekly in particular deserves numerous compliments. This feature, which is added to your feed every Monday morning, offers a two-hour playlist of personalized music recommendations based on your listening habits, as well as the habits of those who hear similar artists.
In addition, these playlists are often filled with music that you have not heard before, as well as selections from your favorite artists, thus expanding your musical repertoire with a wide selection of songs.
Do you often listen to Black Keys? Then, your weekly playlist could include The Arcs, a parallel project by the band's guitarist, Dan Auerbach. In addition, Spotify gives you the opportunity to create, share and follow lists of any kind – including those shared by friends – with a simple click, along with lists of songs selected by experts for any mood or genre.
As for Apple Music, when creating an account users have to select some of their favorite artists so that the service can have your tastes known. In addition, you can always reseal your tastes in the Account tab – accessible by pressing the icon in the upper right corner – and re-selecting your favorite genres and artists.
While this option is visually attractive (with bubbles or pink balls on a white background, which is very "Apple-chic"), the style breaks with the utility a bit. On mobile devices, in particular, these selections slowly obstruct the screen by bouncing each other making it difficult to select more artists.
Fortunately, once the process is complete, Apple Music does a great job with the development of playlists.
Playlists can be based on some style, a particular artist or even a specific activity such as driving. Apple says the playlists are made by a "team of experts." If so, these taste producers do a good job creating varied playlists that are both familiar and fresh.
Also, Spotify offers “expert” playlists, but Apple Music playlist selections come from Apple DJs.
The Beats 1 radio feature of Apple Music also plays an important role when it comes to discovering music. It is entertaining to see Apple move beyond sophisticated algorithms to facilitate music discovery, but Spotify also has its own magic wand and its custom playlists are growing.
The truth is that Spotify playlists, especially Discover Weekly, give this service some advantage. Until Apple Music can compete with this algorithm-based approach, we give Spotify the victory.
Possibly the area in which Spotify is a little behind its competitors is the radio. Based on our own personal tests, it does not offer the experience you will gain in services such as Pandora.
The choice of artist Gary Clark Jr. on Spotify, for example, calls similar artists such as The Black Keys, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, although the service tends to focus primarily on the music of the former.
While choosing a specific genre for a Spotify radio station allows for a wider selection of songs, the service also tends to focus on successes. It is true that it is a worthwhile experience, but it is somewhat limited.
In a time when automation is prioritized, Apple Music's preference for the human touch really helps with radio programming. This philosophy is seen in Beats 1, the main Apple Music radio station that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
While DJ and Zane Lowe do an admirable job, the most intriguing shows in Beats 1 are those of notable musicians like Annie Clark, Q-Tip and Ryan Adams. These shows give listeners a unique look at the tastes of the artists they admire.
In addition, with Beyond Beats 1, Apple Music offers a number of more generic radio stations for those who simply want to listen to classical rock, jazz or the successes of the moment. The BBC News and ESPN service are also available.
Winner: Apple Music
Apple Music has a standard cost, that is, about $ 10 dollars a month, as does Spotify Premium and Tidal Premium, the service on demand from Pandora. Amazon Music Unlimited costs the same and $ 8 dollars with an Amazon Prime subscription.
Originally, Apple hoped to hit its competitors by offering its service for $ 8 dollars, and even for $ 5 a month, but that plan was blocked by major record companies that own the rights over the vast majority of the company's catalog.
To make a subscription to Apple Music or Spotify a bit more attractive, both companies offer special family packages that allow customers to add up to six individual accounts for a total of $ 15 dollars a month.
If you are considering Apple Music, there is another way to save some money. Current users can receive a year of service for $ 99 dollars. First, yes, you should subscribe to Apple Music (no matter what subscription you have). Then, you should go to your Subscriptions in the App Store application (accessed through your Apple ID at the bottom of the "Featured" tab) and select Apple Music. You should see an option “Individual (1 year)” for $ 99 dollars. Select it and you can save as much as 20 percent.
Given that Apple gives each possible subscriber three months of Apple Music for free, the service may be growing in front of Spotify more than the CEO, Daniel Ek, would like to acknowledge. However, and this is key, Apple does not have a free level based on ads like Spotify, which is a big reason why the Swedish company was able to hook so many users in the first place.
Most Spotify users listen to their favorite songs for free, and that's better than any three-month trial or one-year discounted subscription Apple can offer.
User interface and mobile experience
Despite Apple's predilection for minimalist design, Apple Music's mobile interface was less intuitive. However, with later versions of iOS 10 and iOS 11, cumbersome design became a more optimized experience that music lovers should appreciate.
The library is now on the homepage of the Music application. All content can be accessed from this tab, and you can easily select from Playlists, Artists, albums, Songs and downloaded Music.
When you tap the For You or For you tab, several different custom options now appear. My New Music Mix and daily themed playlists offer even more ways to discover new songs, while the Browse or Navigation tab offers a way to explore popular music, videos and Apple exclusives.
Those looking for something specific can also use the Search tab, which allows you to quickly search through your personal library or the Apple Music library.
Apple has also integrated Siri with Apple Music, allowing subscribers to issue voice commands through the iPhone or a Mac computer. So, if you ask Siri to play song number 1 of 2001, for example, start reproduce quickly. It is an interesting feature that Android users will not get, since they do not have access to Siri.
The Apple Music Android application is aesthetically different from the iOS version, as it hides its menu on the left side of the screen, as many Android applications do.
If users need to navigate, they can see the menu as a drawer. This keeps the design clean and makes good use of the limited real estate of your phone. Although Apple Music is available for iOS and Android, Apple Music works best on iOS, especially with the Siri function added. Spotify, on the other hand, is more device independent.
Spotify has long been the industry's leading platform in terms of ease of use. Mobile and desktop applications provide users with an easy way to explore music, access playlists, listen to Internet radio and discover new music. The navigation bar of the program, which is divided into three separate sections: Main, Your Music and Playlists, runs on the left side.
Each section presents its own set of simple subcategories, which gives users easy access to the many features of the service. The search window actively fills the results field, just like the Google search engine, and often provides exactly what you are looking for after entering some characters.
Speaking of external integration, Spotify also supports Amazon's Echo ecosystem, allowing subscribers to play songs on the company's smart home systems with simple Alexa voice commands such as "play songs by Ryan Adams."
Spotify even offers integration with Google Cast, which is especially useful for those who like Google streaming devices such as Chromecast, allowing a quick and easy way to stream music from your home theater system.
Also, Apple Music has its own speaker / horn, the HomePod. In addition to being able to transmit through this speaker, leading companies such as Bose, Bang & Olufsen, Denon, McIntosh and Polk also make their speakers available on the Apple platform, and Apple TV users can also integrate Apple Music playback on their larger screens.
The social functions of Spotify allow subscribers to follow friends, see what they hear and who they follow. It also offers users the ability to share or recommend playlists, in addition to offering users the ability to post their listening history on Facebook, which gives their friends the opportunity to comment on their activity or musical tastes.
While these features give Spotify some social influence, we would like the service to add a simple system to chat with who follows you. It has also removed the Inbox / Messages function, which allows users to send private messages within the application, something the company said that most users simply did not use and that it was too expensive to maintain.
The main social feature of Apple Music comes from what it calls the Connect function, which brings together artists and fans and effectively serves as a full access pass to your favorite bands. From backstage photos to the first cuts of an upcoming music video, artists have the ability to share a large amount of exclusive information with their fans. Apple also allows users the ability to comment or share the messages of any artist, in addition to the possibility of the artist responding again. In addition, these messages can be shared on Facebook and Twitter, along with individual songs and albums.
However, while Connect is an interesting feature, other social aspects are missed in Apple Music. Even without messages, the solid integration of Spotify Social Media, as well as the ability to see what friends and followers are listening gives the service some advantage.
Many people listen to music while practicing some sport and one of the most intriguing features of the Spotify mobile application is its ability to provide a playlist adapted to the speed of the user.
Users can choose from a variety of playlists, sorted by environment (cold weather, night), by genre or even popularity.
And there are also the Running Originals, original music playlists composed by artists like Ellie Goulding and Tisto.
On smart phones with the appropriate sensors, Spotify also automatically estimates how quickly a user runs or plays sports and selects a playlist with the corresponding time.
For phones that lack the necessary sensors, users can manually enter the tempo they want (according to the steps per minute). During use, Spotify cuts some parts of the songs, which allows to keep the rhythm constant, although it can be annoying or shocking for music purists.
However, Spotify Running is far from perfect. The selection of music can be a bit disconcerting with the introduction of a ballad that does not seem to be the best option to exercise. The biggest weakness of Running is that the quality of the transmission can vary drastically depending on your connection. That said, it is a unique feature for Spotify and a very good option for people who do not want to plan a specific music session or edit the songs to adapt them to their workouts.
Apple Music, on the other hand, does not have a function dedicated to exercise, so Spotify wins again in this regard.
Apple Music allows you to download music on 10 different devices, with no real limit of how much you can download. Technically, the upper limit is 100,000 songs, but it will be difficult to reach that number, unless you literally download every album you see on screen. Even after making the total number of offline downloads up to 10,000 (up to 3,333) and five devices (up to three), Spotify is left behind in this area.
Winner: Apple Music
Spotify wins. While Apple Music has made some serious advances, Spotify remains the king in this market. Its user interface is accessible, orderly and simplifies the management of playlists. Their new options discover new playlists, especially Discover Weekly, and it's also free for those who still can't commit. The catalog is larger in Apple Music (although it is not very clear) and exclusive releases and features such as Beats 1 radio make this platform a serious competitor. But for now, Spotify still dominates.
* Updated by Daniel Matus on November 22, 2019.