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Apple Music vs Spotify: Which is Better for Music Streaming?

30th July 2021

If you want a good chuckle, head to YouTube and watch the first ad for the iPod way back in 2001. It’s hard not to feel sorry for the guy as he loses his mind over a brick that can only hold a measly 1000 songs, not to mention the process of copying the tunes over from his enormous laptop (seriously, that thing is HUGE). 

Whether you remember the days of cassette tapes, grew up with the first iPod, or have been around smartphones for your entire life, we can all agree that streaming makes it easier than ever to listen to our favorite tunes. But with multiple platforms begging us for our hard-earned dosh, which is the better choice? Today, we look at the two heavyweights of the digital music industry – Apple Music and Spotify – and pit them against each other to see who comes out on top. 

Music library

A music streaming app is only as good as its catalog, and both apps get a big tick in this regard. Spotify claims to hold roughly 70 million songs in its library, while Apple says it takes the cake with around 75 million. It’s neck and neck, and Spotify is catching up with tens of thousands of songs added every day. 

Since both apps offer just about every song you could ever dream of listening to, we’re better off focusing on things like exclusives and personal libraries. Spotify and Apple Music are quick to release new singles and albums, though the latter seems to have a slight edge thanks to deals that give Apple early access to new tracks from some of the world’s biggest artists. Apple also makes it easy to integrate your old iTunes library – like old album purchases and ripped CDs – for quick listening. 

Streaming quality

Streaming music tends to come with a catch: the quality is lowered to prevent any interruptions. It’s still more than good enough for casual listening when you have a half-decent internet connection, and Spotify Premium and Apple Music both let you bring up the quality to a pretty high standard when suitable. But with unlimited data plans, there’s a big push to please audiophiles with the best possible standards of music streaming. Spotify is working on the mysterious but much-hyped Spotify HiFi service, which may come for a higher monthly fee. But Apple is also making big improvements, announcing support for Dolby Atmos and rolling out lossless, high-quality audio to all users at no extra charge.

Music discovery

Streaming music isn’t just about listening to your old favorites, but also about sharing and discovery. Spotify is an incredible platform for finding new music, with features like Discover Weekly and Release Radar helping you keep track of the latest tracks and unearth your next top artist. There are also plenty of automatically generated playlists based on genres and artists you like, not to mention those put together by other listeners. Apple Music is also stacked with playlists and recommendations, though they take a more curated approach with live stations and unique artist collaborations. You’ll make new discoveries on either app, but Spotify Premium is hard to beat. 

Price

For some of us, price is a concern. Spotify is attractive from the get-go since you don’t actually need to pay anything to listen. Free accounts have ads in between songs and limited features, but it’s fine if you just want something on in the background. Upgrading to Spotify Premium gives you access to the full library, offline listening, high-quality streaming and instant access to new releases, much like Apple Music’s offering.

Both platforms have similar pricing structures, though Spotify has an extra option for duos living at the same address. Remember to take advantage of Spotify Student or the equivalent Apple Music subscription if you’re eligible! 

Price per month:

Spotify Premium

  • Individual: $9.98
    • Student: $4.99 
  • Duo: $12.98
  • Family: $16.98 

Apple Music

  • Individual: $9.98
  • Student: $4.98
  • Family: $14.98 

The final verdict

The tough part about separating Apple Music and Spotify Premium is that they’re both just that damned good. The way we see it is this: if you use an iPhone, Macbook, iPad or other Apple devices, Apple Music is so well integrated that you can’t really go wrong with it. You can still use it on Android and web browsers, but Apple devices are really where it shines. As for Spotify, it’s still the cross-platform king and the free tier might be enough to sway you if you’re a casual listener.

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