Music streaming has been a commonplace staple of life for over the last decade. While Spotify once held its fair share of the market, many have questioned whether there might be a more appropriate application for their tastes and needs.
Are you wondering whether Spotify or Apple Music is right for you? Read on to see how each of these services stacks up in comparison to one another.
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Before you sign up for a membership to either of these services, it’s important to know whether the device you intend to use is supported. There can be a little bit of confusion regarding this, especially where Apple Music is concerned.
One reason people are confused about Apple Music is that Apple is a well-known manufacturer of proprietary electronics. A common misconception here is that you need to have an iPhone or a Mac computer to run Apple Music.
However, this could not be further from the truth, as Apple Music is available for Android phones, and computers running Windows/Linux operating systems. Apple has essentially created applications designed to run specifically on these systems, though there is a fair chance you will need to download and install iTunes to use it, which can be a deal breaker for some people.
With that being said, both Spotify and Apple Music can be run with full functionality through an internet browser window. This means that no matter what device you use, you’ll likely be able to access the service(s).
Let’s take a closer look at the devices that support each of these services. This, alone, might be enough to sway your decision in one direction or another.
Apple Music is supported on:
- All Apple devices running iOS 10
- All Apple Watch devices running watchOS 2.2
- Apple TV
- Google Nest
- PlayStation 5
- Samsung Smart TVs (dated 2018-current)
- Amazon Echo
On the other hand, Spotify has made the claim that its service has the ability to be used on over 2000 different products from over 200 different brands. This includes a wide range of different items, including:
- Smart thermostats
- Gaming consoles (including Xbox One, Series S, Series X, and PlayStation 3, 4, and 5)
- Smart TVs made by Philips, Sony, Samsung, LG
- Smartwatches by various manufacturers
- Wireless earbuds by various manufacturers
- Integration with vehicles from BMW, Mercedes, GM, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Tesla, Volvo, VW, and more
- Peloton exercise equipment
- Wide range of home stereo and wireless speaker setups
If being able to utilize a music streaming platform on a wide range of different devices, Spotify has the clear upper hand. Plus, when multiple devices with the same account are active on the same WiFi connection, you can use the Spotify application (with Spotify’s “Connect” feature) to change what is playing and what is next in the queue.
Apple Music does have a bit of an advantage when it comes to listening in the car. If you’re on a road trip, everyone who has Apple Music can curate what is being played through the car’s speakers.
If we are to judge both of these services based on the number of devices that support it, Spotify has a clear advantage.
Audio quality is a bit of a tricky subject, especially when it comes to streaming. There is a bit of a debate as to whether streaming services can provide lossless quality due to the natural compression of data, especially when Bluetooth devices are being utilized.
Nevertheless, a streaming platform’s audio quality capabilities are going to be important for those who require the best quality possible. This is one area where Apple Music really does outclass what Spotify has to offer.
Apple Music is one of the only music streaming services offering 24-bit, 192 kHz lossless audio. It’s also one of the only services that provides spatial audio, which can be enjoyed with Dolby Atmos or headphones that support spatial audio.
Not sure what spatial audio is? Think of it as being a 3-D space of sound, where turning your head one way or another will allow you to hear specific things in the mix as if they are coming from those directions.
How does Spotify stack up to this? Well, to be frank, Spotify has been promising lossless audio for a long time, but nothing has exactly come to fruition in this area.
It’s hard to say exactly when Spotify’s HiFi program will be rolled out. Until then, users are able to select the streaming quality of their choice, which ranges from “low” to “very high,” and is generally meant to help users maintain their data usage when streaming away from an internet connection.
For Spotify users, it’s been kind of a bummer that this service hasn’t seen the light of day. Spotify has been teasing this promise since 2021, so one could assume that this feature would be coming soon.
At the end of the day, Apple Music does take the cake when it comes to audio quality, though you need to make sure you have the proper equipment to take advantage of it. Streaming with a Bluetooth device will negate this altogether because of Bluetooth’s inability to handle the data sizes without compression.
Who Has The Biggest Library of Songs?
Something else you might want to consider when choosing between these services is the number of songs each has in their library. Both Spotify and Apple Music claim to have over 100 million songs in their catalog.
However, if you’re interested in listening to podcasts and audiobooks alongside your music of choice, Spotify is going to be a better fit. This might come as a bit of a surprise to those who remember that the podcast was essentially invented during the epic reign of Apple’s iPod music devices.
To date, Spotify has one of the biggest catalogs of podcasts available, with over 5 million titles being offered. Because of this, Spotify has become one of the main platforms that just about every podcast production team uploads to.
One of the more recent additions to Spotify’s catalog is its offering of audiobooks. Currently, over 350,000 titles are offered, though the availability of this subset of the service is not available to all premium tiers, which could be a deal breaker for some users.
Because it offers more than just music, Spotify gets the upper hand when it comes to this category. But, in terms of sheer music being offered, it’s relatively the same.
Playlists & Algorithmic Recommendations
While having a massive music library is always a plus, the reality is that the common listener will likely only scratch a very small fraction of this when it comes to what they choose to listen to. Some people just enjoy listening to what they already like, while others can find it a bit difficult to find something new that jives with their own unique musical tastes.
Because of this, algorithmic recommendations have become a staple in both Spotify and Apple Music. This feature essentially recommends new music for you to listen to based on your previous listening history.
Spotify has historically had the upper hand when it comes to this feature. The service is famous for the fact that it creates playlists curated specifically to one’s tastes, often incorporating songs you’ve heard with songs you probably have never heard before.
Spotify’s algorithmic playlists (called the Discover Weekly) are generated every week and tend to run about 2 hours in length. The service also has Daily Mix playlists that are updated every day so you always have an opportunity to discover something new alongside old favorites.
Furthermore, Spotify has historically been the go-to service for creating custom playlists. You can even collaborate with other Spotify users to create a group playlist that features everyone’s contributions.
On the other hand, Apple Music also offers the ability to create custom playlists. A recent update even allows non-Apple Music users to participate in the curation of the playlist’s songs which can be accessed with a handy QR code.
One of the best features that Apple Music does offer is its Radio, which is very reminiscent of traditional radio. These stations are live and in-the-moment, featuring DJs who curate their own shows.
Apple Music users have found the Radio feature to be a great way to discover new music. It’s also been proven to be a great go-to during those times when you aren’t exactly sure what you want to listen to.
While Spotify doesn’t have a live radio feature, it does have its own take by offering Artist Radio stations. These algorithmic playlist “radio stations” can be found on most artist profiles and contain songs that fit the artist’s style, as well as the tastes of those who commonly listen to that artist.
At the end of the day, it really just depends on what your personal preference is when it comes to what is being offered. Spotify’s algorithm has historically been unmatched, but Apple Music’s recent developments have shown to be quite worthwhile.
If you don’t care about the live radio function, then Spotify might be a better fit, as it does provide ample opportunity to discover new things. Plus, the service has made a name for itself with playlists, offering editorial playlists as well as user playlists to keep listeners in discovery mode for all moods and occasions.
Apple Music’s radio feature is something that really does tap into the traditional way that music used to be discovered. It might not be as “personal” as Spotify’s algorithmic playlists, but the fact that live DJs are broadcasting their own shows provides a personal touch of its own.
Can I Manage My Own Library?
Both Spotify and Apple Music offer something unique for their users when it comes to managing their libraries. While this might not necessarily make or break your decision one way or another, these features are quite convenient for the right users.
For instance, Spotify Premium members will have the ability to download songs, albums, and podcasts. While you can’t export them from the service, you can play them without needing to have an internet connection, which is a must for those who frequently enjoy listening to music while driving in areas with poor cellular reception.
On the other hand, Apple Music will allow you to upload your own music to the platform. Keep in mind, this isn’t the same thing as artists distributing their music, but rather, it allows you to upload your own song library to be played within the Apple Music application.
Apple Music’s feature is especially tasty for those who already have a sizable library of physical or purchased MP3s. It essentially means that you can listen to your favorite long-lost and forgotten hometown band from years past that had an album but isn’t available on streaming platforms.
Plus, Apple Music will even allow you to edit the metatags and upload custom artwork for each song. Not to mention, you can even do this with songs that you don’t own.
Because each of these features is unique, it really just depends on what you value the most when it comes to your streaming preferences. For that reason, both services are tied with respect to this categorization.
Do Spotify and Apple Music Provide Song Lyrics Or Extra Features?
One thing that seems to have gone to the wayside with digital music streaming is the “physical” experience of being able to hold an album’s liner notes in one’s hand while listening. The ability to read along to the lyrics while the song is playing allows one to forge a deeper connection to the music.
Fortunately, both Spotify and Apple Music offer the ability to read the lyrics of songs as they play. However, it’s important to note that this might not necessarily be the sole responsibility of the streaming service, alone.
With Spotify, for instance, artists can incorporate their song lyrics through Spotify’s integration with Musixmatch. If the artists do not take the initiative, then their songs will simply not have any lyrics on the Spotify platform.
Plus, it’s also important to note that, even if an artist does upload their lyrics, they might not be synced correctly to the music. This could be a little problematic if the song has a crazy number of verses while being at a fast tempo.
Apple Music also offers lyrics, but again, this might be solely at the discretion of each artist. With that being said, Apple Music’s lyric feature does seem to have a better rate of success in regards to being synced correctly to the music.
Apple Music does have another small advantage in the fact that it offers karaoke capabilities at the click of a button. By clicking the little microphone icon, Apple Music will remove the vocals altogether, allowing you to sing to the track on your own.
A few years ago, Spotify began introducing other aspects to help make the listening experience more immersive. This includes things like short movie clips and animated artwork that play during tracks.
Again, these kinds of features are solely up to the initiative of the artist. But, the fact that Spotify offers this capability shows that they are prioritizing the enhancement of the listening experience.
Apple Music has been dabbling with similar features by incorporating the animated artwork aspect. But, again, this is likely dependent on the artist and not the streaming service itself.
If there is to be a winner in this category, it would have to be a very close tie. Spotify has the advantage of being the trendsetter while Apple Music seems like they are playing catch-up, but both are pretty similar regardless.
If the karaoke feature is important to you, then Apple Music is definitely the way to go. Not only could this feature make road trips more fun, but it means you can host a karaoke night at a bar without having to have a catalog of ready-made karaoke CDs.
What About Classical Music?
If you’re into classical music, you’re probably well aware of just how atrocious the categorization of this genre can be. Part of the issue is that there can be thousands of different recordings of just 1 movement, which is then multiplied for essentially every single movement ever written.
Unless you know exactly the recording and performance you are looking for, you’re bound to spend quite a bit of time trying to find the best representation of the piece. In many instances, casual classical music listeners will settle for what’s easiest to find, regardless of whether it is considered to be one of the best performances.
In all truthfulness, Spotify does not do any favors regarding this. Trying to navigate the realm of classical music on its platform is an absolute nightmare.
For starters, the layout for each composer remains intact with what is used for every artist outside of the classical music genre. This means that, when you search for Mozart, you’ll be granted a list of popular songs (by play count), and then you’re left to your own devices having to find the recording of your choice.
When you do click on the albums, prepare to spend most of your day scrolling. You’ll have to navigate releases from the present day all the way back to the first by year, which can be troublesome considering that some years have over 100 releases.
Not to mention, some composers have their own unique way of cataloging their own works. You’d be a fool to think that every recorded performance keeps this intact.
Are you starting to get the picture of just how poorly designed Spotify’s platform is regarding classical music? While this genre likely only makes up a very small percentage of its user base, the fact that Spotify has let this exist in its current state for this long shows that there will likely never be any proper attention given to its cataloging and categorization of classical music.
Apple Music has gone the extra mile in providing some sense and reason in its cataloging of classical music. There is a separate application called Apple Music Classical which has been designed specifically to solve these issues.
This additional application does not cost extra to use. If you’re already a subscribing member of Apple Music, you will be able to use the full functionality of the Apple Music Classical application.
In the Apple Music Classical application, you’ll be able to view all of the recorded works of the composer of your choice. However, this is made easy as Apple Music gives you recommendations for which recordings are historically considered to be the “go-to,” which is great for any newcomer who is just getting their feet wet in the genre.
Furthermore, Apple Music Classical even provides pertinent details about the recordings themselves. You’ll even be able to see who the musical director was during the recording’s performance.
Just like Apple Music’s main application, you’ll be able to listen to classical music in lossless audio formats. You can even engage spatial audio for an immersion that you can only otherwise experience by attending an orchestral performance.
It goes without saying that, if you’re really into classical music, Apple Music is the choice for you. Heck, even if you’re only an occasional, casual listener of the genre, this facet is well worth the time you would save not having to navigate the depths of Spotify’s poor catalog management.
Social Media Integration
While it might not be everyone’s biggest concern, integration with social media can be important for sharing with friends. But, if it is important, you should know that Spotify has pretty much dominated this area of life.
Whether it be Instagram, Snapchat, or even Tinder, you can plug songs from Spotify into your content. Of course, with applications like Instagram, you don’t necessarily need to have a Spotify account, as Spotify is just the platform’s streaming service integration of choice.
But if you’re like me and have found yourself having to make an online dating profile, sharing your music tastes can be important. How else can you screen a potential partner’s music tastes to ensure that you won’t drive each other crazy with their preferred music genres?
Tinder has gone all-out to allow its users integration with their personal Spotify account. This feature lets them select a theme song (kind of like an old-school Myspace profile) and displays the top artists one has listened to, directly on the dating profile.
Just about anybody who spends a little bit of time on social media platforms has likely encountered end-of-year posts that display one’s listening statistics. Spotify has essentially made the yearly review a bonafide event, providing its users with slides that show their top albums, most played songs, genres, and more.
Users will typically screenshot these various slides, which makes it easy to share on different social media platforms. Plus, it’s a great way to start a conversation and compare your tastes with your peers and others in your community.
Up until recently, Spotify has practically been the only streaming service offering this feature. It’s only been within the last few years that Apple Music has made an attempt to offer something of similar value.
With that being said, Apple Music has a bit of a way to go to outcompete Spotify in its yearly review. Since Apple is known for innovation, it will be interesting to see if they have any tricks up their sleeves regarding this function within the next few years.
Overall, when it comes to the social aspect of music streaming platforms, Spotify is the clear winner. Part of this definitely has to do with the fact that Spotify has long been the dominating force of music streaming for years.
Application Function & Aesthetics
Now that we’ve discussed at length what both Spotify and Apple Music have to offer, it’s time to examine how the actual application itself works as well as the design of its interface. Having excellent features is only great if the application itself allows you to easily access and use them.
Fortunately, when it comes to how Spotify and Apple Music are designed, there are only minor differences at best. Spotify’s design leans more toward darker colors for a sleek design while Apple Music opts for brighter colors for a clean and fresh look.
Finding an artist to listen to is as simple as entering their name or your album/song of choice into the search bar. Clicking the album will essentially produce the same layout of songs across both platforms.
Spotify’s layout is a little bit better in the sense that its window is divided into different sections. You can easily access your playlists by using the sidebar.
As far as application performance goes, Apple Music has a bit of an advantage. In all of its years of being a service, Spotify’s application has been notoriously slow at times, even if you are connected to the internet.
There’s nothing worse than having to wait for your Spotify account to connect while you’re in the car. Despite Apple Music being an Apple product, its applications seem to work relatively flawlessly across any device, even those that aren’t Apple products.
Granted, Spotify’s application has gotten better in recent years, but it’s still not as lightning-fast as one would hope. However, after a little time, this just becomes something that you get used to and might not be the biggest deal after all.
So, really, there’s no clear winner when it comes to this category. Much of this aspect is going to depend on your aesthetic preferences as well as what you are willing to be okay with in terms of load time.
Now it’s on to one of everyone’s favorite discussions: what is the cost of these streaming services? Historically, Spotify has always been about $1 cheaper across the board, but that’s all changed now.
Currently, both Spotify and Apple Music have the exact same price in each tier of membership. At the time of this writing, the prices are as such:
- Individual account – $10.99
- Family account with 6 included accounts – $16.99
- Student account – $5.99
Spotify has one additional tier (Premium Duo), which features 2 accounts for $14.99. It would be nice if Apple Music had a similar tier, and it remains to be seen whether such a package will be offered in the future.
Both services include additional incentives with its Student tier. Spotify includes access to Hulu (the ad version), while Apple Music provides access to Apple TV+.
Both services also offer a free trial period, with Spotify offering 1 free month, and Apple Music offering 2 free months. If this is important to you, there’s a chance you’d find the additional free month to be helpful in deciding if Apple Music is right for you.
However, Spotify does get the advantage overall as it’s the only one to offer a free tier, though its advertisements can be excruciatingly annoying (but that’s pretty much the entire gamut of commercials in general). Many of the excellent features are gone, but you’ll still be able to access Spotify’s massive library of songs.
Which Is Better, Spotify or Apple Music?
Spotify still continues to dominate the market, primarily because it was essentially the first service to make music streaming a reality. Since then, Spotify has continually blazed a trail of possibilities, with other streaming services playing catch-up.
With that being said, Spotify is not without its drawbacks, and Apple Music certainly has its advantages over Spotify. Both services have their own dedicated and loyal user base who prefer one experience over the other.
Spotify Vs Apple Music, Final Thoughts
Both Spotify and Apple Music offer features that are worth any serious music fan’s time. While Spotify has been the leading service, Apple Music’s developments prove that Spotify has a serious contender to compete with.
If you’re unsure which service is right for you, there’s really no harm in trying both. Despite offering different features, their similarities will overlap, ensuring that there really is no learning curve required.