Spotify vs. Apple Music 2019: Who Wins the Music War?
Having a music streaming subscription allows you to access a library of songs on-demand via any of your devices without having to make individual purchases. This means more choice for less money. So, without further ado, let’s meet the competitors who will be fighting it out.
The first contender needs no introduction, it’s Spotify! With nearly 100 million paid subscribers, this Swedish streaming service has dominated the music scene since 2008. It’s signature features include a discovery algorithm that easily crushes any competitor and free service that allows advertisers to capitalize on revenue.
The opponent comes all the way from San Francisco. This Silicon Valley giant has already gained a combined total of 50 million users on paid and trial subscriptions. It’s Apple Music! What is Apple Music? Why it’s the music solution made from the same DNA as Apple devices. Apple Music or Spotify? They’re great streaming services, but there’s only room for one subscription service in your life.
Launched in 2015, Apple Music has risen up the leaderboard with feature releases such as notifications when your favorite artists publish new music and marriage to Siri voice commands, so all you have to do is ask Siri to play what you want to hear.
Below, these heavyweights will face each other based on their pricing, sound quality, music selection, device support, social sharing, and music discovery.
Being an early mover in on-demand music streaming services, Spotify has had the time to develop many more useful features. One of them is “Crossfade tracks” which eliminates the silence between the tracks to have a more spontaneous transition. This should bring a DJ-like energy level to your surroundings.
For the social ones, there is “Friend Activity” that allows you to find out in real-time what your friends are listening to. Spotify’s algorithms are smart enough to predict your tastes accurately, and its “Discover Music” feature brings you slightly more choices and unknown artists compared to Apple Music.
While Apple Music does not have the algorithmic sophistication of Spotify, it checks all the basics you will actually need. Whether it is offline downloads or effortless streaming across multiple devices, the app has similar flair and functionalities like any other product in the Apple ecosystem. It has also started adding the cool Spotify-like features such as what “friends are listening to.”
Spotify has more features but Apple Music clearly does not fall short of relevant features. Therefore, we will consider this round a tie.
Music Collection and Artists
Apple Music has set the music collection bar very high by making you “lose yourself in 50 million songs.” In comparison, Spotify has 35 million songs which are not bad either.
The difference is negligible if you are mostly listening to Billboard music and well-known artists, but what works in Apple’s favor is the fact that your personal music is scrutinized more carefully, so your actual collection will be far more interesting.
Some of Spotify’s algorithmic suggestions are not really helpful, and you may find yourself sifting through a lot of mediocre content. For instance, I would not want to listen to some unknown garage band doing a knock-off of Metallica. Just because they sound similar does not mean they are.
Apple, in comparison, thanks to its legacy of iPod and iTunes, has a more intuitive understanding of what the next thing is you will want to listen to. The simple and elegant user interface of Apple helps you remain relaxed in selecting your favorite albums.
Apple Music is way more popular with actual artists and many leading singers debut their singles in this platform first since they are paid better. Apple Music allows you to add 100,000 songs to its library which is ten times higher than Spotify.
Apple Music has an advantage because the overall content can be more relevant.
Plans and pricing
Spotify Premium for Family and Apple Music’s family plans are $15 per month and give up to six users their own premium subscription account. Everyone on a Spotify family plan has to live at the same address, and you can’t change addresses once it starts; if you move, you have either go to individual plans or delete your accounts and start over. Apple Music’s plan lacks these restrictions, and Apple Music also has an annual billing option for individual plans that lets you save $20 a year.
If you’re in college, though, Spotify Student is what you want, hands down. It bundles Spotify Premium, Hulu (ad-supported), and Showtime for $5 per month, which is way better than just getting Apple Music for $5 per month. The only student bundle that even comes close to competing with Spotify Student is YouTube Premium’s student discount, but to most users right now YouTube Music is simply too unpolished for everyday use.
Spotify does have a free, ad-supported tier of service while Apple Music requires a paid subscription for all users, but Spotify’s free tier is pretty annoying to use since you’re stuck on shuffle all the time. Spotify recently bumped the trial period for students and individual Premium accounts to get 3 months free trial on apple music, but if you’re on a family plan, your trial is still only 30 days.
It’s also worth noting that for many countries, Apple Music is your only option if Spotify hasn’t made it there yet, but both are far more widely available than the rest of the streaming services on the market.
Overall Spotify sounded slightly better in this test than the Apple Music service, but as usual, that result comes with caveats.
The biggest is that both sounded very similar to our excellent system in a controlled environment; we really had to strain in some instances to hear any difference. Another is that we only listened to a select number of tracks across different genres we were familiar with. It’s entirely possible there are tracks that sound better on Apple Music than Spotify.
Are the subtle differences we heard between the two services enough to recommend one over the other? Not really. We would say that the size of the catalog, the price of membership and general ease of use will be much more important in the long run than sound quality. If you prioritize sound quality above all else, there are lots of better options available to you: vinyl, lossless streaming from Tidal or other sources, or any number of high-quality digital sources like high-resolution audio or even — gasp — actual CDs.