Spotify vs Apple Music 2019: Advantages and Disadvantages11 min read15/02/2019
Spotify and Apple Music are the most popular music streaming services with the worldwide market share of 36% and 19% accordingly, states Statista. Each of them has its own benefits and drawbacks. They also have their fans and haters across the globe. Let’s sort things out: which is the best music app? Here’s our Spotify Premium vs Apple Music comparison.
“The subscription model of buying music is bankrupt”, Steve Jobs
During the Special Apple Event in 2003, Legendary Steve Jobs forecasted music streaming services to be stillborn. He introduced the iTunes Music Store and said that those services offering subscription plans treated users like criminals. The Apple co-founder supposed such services to be a wrong path.
He claimed that people preferred to pay for music to download it and further listen to their favorite songs wherever they go. Just like we used to do when using LPs, cassettes, or CDs. However, these words referred to iPod times when you had better download a song rather than play it online. The Internet data transferring speed wasn’t as fast as today. The 3G network wasn’t available in the U.S. as of 2003.
Since that time, technologies have drastically changed. Furthermore, streaming services have become as popular as never before. We no longer pay for downloads to watch a movie. Instead, we use Netflix. We no longer download songs. Instead, we use Spotify or Apple Music. Although, we often can’t understand which music streaming app is better. Let’s compare them now.
Any iOS- and Mac OS-based device has Apple Music installed by default. In addition, Android and Windows fans also can download this mobile app. Moreover, you can download the music streaming app to your Apple Watch and listen to favorite songs in the gym or while jogging on the street. Furthermore, you can transfer music from your iPhone to any other device via Bluetooth including wireless headphones.
When it comes to Spotify, it’s available for all platforms. This service even has a Web app so you can use it using your desktop computer. In fact, you can use Spotify on a wide range of devices: Amazon Alexa, Chromecast, Xbox, PlayStation, etc. However, a free mobile app is available only for iPhones.
Spotify uses the Ogg Vorbis format with up to 320 kbps. This format hardly differs from traditional MP3. Unlike Spotify, Apple Music uses AAC with up to 256 kbps. It may seem that Spotify has a higher sound quality due to a higher bitrate. However, these formats have different data compression technologies so they can’t be compared by the single indicator. When listening to music using AirPods, you will notice no difference between Spotify and Apple Music.
According to CNET, Spotify sounds better than Apple Music. Researchers conducted a test using advanced hardware and concluded that Spotify’s sound was somewhat brighter that Apple Music’s one. They claimed that the saxophone sound felt to be more volumetric while the player’s articulation was more clear. The tests also have shown that Apple Music generates sound felt like coming from far away and seemed less vivid. However, the total results of both services are similar.
In a controlled environment and with high-end equipment, music sounded almost the same. To identify the difference, researchers had to use specific songs. Therefore, the test results can be considered as subjective since the CNET employees couldn’t all the music genres or songs. Hence, there hypothetically are tracks that sound better with Apple Music than Spotify. This is exactly the conclusion the guys from CNET have made.
When it comes to a user interface, It’s hard to highlight a single winner in the Apple Music vs Spotify competition. The former solution has several tabs you can navigate between:
- Library – contains all your songs
- For You – songs and albums sorted by user preferences
- Browse – world trends, popular songs, and albums
- Radio – the Beats 1 radio and radio stations.
The app has a typical Apple-styled design and it’s easy-to-use. The only design issue that may disappoint you is a tag cloud containing the most popular music genres. It may feel difficult to find a required genre in this chaos.
Spotify seems to have a better genre navigation menu. At least, it’s more familiar. Spotify’s user interface looks stylish and original. It has the following main tabs:
- Home – the recommendation screen
- Browse – here you can explore new tracks, artists, and albums
- Search – search for tracks, albums, and artists you like
- Radio – online radio
- You Music – your saved playlists, tracks, artists, and albums.
Both music services have a modern design with comprehensive navigation even though Apple Music has that bizarre genre tag cloud. So it’s a fair draw.
Apple Music recently added video clips to their service so their number is continuously growing. The app also has a social sharing feature. You can subscribe to your favorite artist and follow his news. In addition, you can see which music your friends are listening to. One of the important advantages of Apple Music is its synchronization. You can access your favorite tracks from any device within Apple’s ecosystem since you have one iTunes library for iOS-based devices. You can connect to it using your Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Furthermore, you can add tracks from your music collection to Apple Music.
Both Apple Music and Spotify offer personalized radio stations. By determining your preferences, services broadcast tracks of specific genres or songs of your favorite artists. Spotify also has a social component that allows you to share playlists and songs as well as view your friends’ subscriptions. The Spotify mobile app has rich functionality. For example, you can listen to a few tracks with a long tap on a playlist or album.
The synchronization is even better that you can’t expect. You can start listening to the song on your smartphone and then launch the web app on your computer to make magic happen. The track will continue right from the moment it has been paused on your mobile device. Unfortunately, you won’t have access to your tracks if you use Spotify on someone else’s device. You can’t add songs from your own media library to the service.
Winner: Apple Music
Both Spotify and Apple Music offer a huge variety of tracks. Apple Music’s catalog contains about 45 million songs. The service also provides exclusive content since it conducts contracts with artists without intermediaries. Spotify reports about 30 million tracks along with other exclusive content like podcasts.
Both services offer a wide range of music genres: from classical to jazz and rock. With Apple music, you can synchronize your media library with your iOS devices via iCloud and then listen to your tracks when offline by downloading them to your mobile device. Furthermore, you can download the entire album or playlist.
At the top of track lists, Apple Music shows the most popular songs. It seems to be logical solutions in the case you want to listen to tracks you’re familiar with. However, if you want to discover new artists in a certain genre, this isn’t the approach you will appreciate. Apple is said to invite music experts like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork to properly categorize songs. This allows users to find necessary tracks in an easy and fast way.
Winner: Apple Music
The main advantage of Spotify over Apple Music is recommendations. Its algorithms quickly understand which genre of music you prefer and offer a set of albums and playlists you will definitely appreciate. With Spotify, searching for tracks is an easy and intuitive process. The service recommends more playlists based on your preferences compared to Apple Music. In addition, they’re more diverse. When it comes to Apple Music, it has a poor recommendation system. Its algorithms are obviously not that accurate.
Besides ordinary playlists, Spotify has the “Your Daily Mix” section that contains dynamic playlists getting updated every day. Their number depends on artists and genres you listen to. These playlists have new songs as well as those already existing in your media library. Over time, the accuracy of Spotify’s recommendations become higher because of the self-learning neural networks the service relies on. It seems like it knows you better than you do. Spotify also has other playlists like Release Radar – with new weekly updated music you may like and New Music Friday containing new tracks appeared within the current week.
Apple Music has a playlist with new tracks. The service generates it using your music preferences. In addition, the app has a section called My favorite tracks. It’s supposed to contain tracks you’ve liked. However, it often offers tracks you have marked with a dislike. It’s hard to understand the working principle of this section and algorithms it relies on since many tracks your mark with the like sign may not get in there.
Spotify’s recommendations may sometimes be imperfect but they’re much more accurate compared to Apple Music. The latter service often recommends the same playlists in those sections where you would like to discover those tracks you’ve never heard of. Furthermore, it seems unclear why the mobile app allows users to like or dislike tracks while ignoring these marks at the same time.
Spotify offers a free plan so you can listen to your favorite music without any fees. However, its quality has been limited to 160 Kbps and you won’t be able to download tracks in order to listen to them when offline or in locations with the poor Internet connection. Moreover, you will regularly listen to annoying ads encouraging you to purchase a paid subscription and won’t be able to skip track in a playlist.
Another good news about Spotify is that it offers a 30-days free trial. Once expired, it turns into a paid plan with the $9.99 monthly payment. Here’s a full list of Spotify’s plans:
- Free: Ad-supported
- Premium: $9.99 per month
- Family: $14.99 for 2 users per month, $19.99 for 3 users, $24.99 for 4 users, and $29.99 for 5 users
- Student: $4.99 per month. To get access to this plan, you have to be a student of one of the U.S.-based universities
Apple Music also offers a free trial for 3 months. In general, the service offers quite similar plans:
- Premium: $9.99 per month
- Family: $14.99 per month
- Student: $4.99 per month
- Individual: $99 per year
The annual plan becomes available when you purchase a monthly plan. To enable the hidden plan, you should proceed to your subscription settings where you can find 4 plans instead of 3. While choosing the annual subscription, you will see a notification that the app will charge you once your current monthly plan will expire. Therefore, you will save up to $20 annually with Apple Music compared to the Spotify Premium plan.
Winner: Apple Music
|Spotify vs Apple Music|
|Audio format||Ogg Vorbis||ACC|
|Audio bitrate||320 kbps||256 kbps|
|Media library||30+ million tracks||45+ million tracks|
In our Apple Music vs Spotify Premium comparison, the latter service gained 3 points.
- Audio quality settings
- You can continue listening to a track right from the moment it has been paused on another device
- Accurate recommendations
- Available for many different platforms;
- User-friendly interface;
- The wide Family plan.
- Unavailable in many countries
- The highly limited free plan
In our Spotify vs Apple Music comparison, the latter service also gained 3 points.
- Excellent integration into the Apple ecosystem;
- The well-designed user interface;
- You can use up to 6 devices for one account within the Premium subscription;
- A free 3-month trial period
- Video content.
- The rich media library.
- Apple Music has a lower audio bitrate than Spotify
- The poor recommendation system
People like to dispute on things: electric or hydrogen cars, iOS or Android, Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto, etc., especially when discussed things hardly differ. Spotify and Apple Music are very similar music streamings services. They have comparable pricing plans and almost identical sound quality. The only feature they differ with is recommendations. This is exactly the area where Spotify leads the way.
However, Apple Music is a suitable app for Apple fans. The app has a rich media library and can easily integrate into the Apple ecosystem. What’s better: Apple Music or Spotify? – Well, our comparison resulted in score 3:3. So if you use an Android-based smartphone and appreciate personalized content, then choose Spotify. If you prefer devices designed in Cupertino, then go for Apple Music.