Spotify vs. Apple Music – Which Is Better?
Spotify and Apple Music are two of the most popular music streaming services available right now. We’ve compared these services across a bunch of different factors to help you decide which one is the best choice for you.
The most significant pricing difference between Spotify and Apple Music is that Spotify has a free tier, which is ad-supported and it has some particular limitations (you can only ‘pick and play’ songs from specific playlists that you choose, otherwise you can only listen on shuffle). However, Apple Music does offer a three months free premium trial, which is matched by Spotify.
Spotify’s premium accounts significantly improve raise the stream quality to 320 kbps from 160 kbps (the free tier quality is slightly lower for free accounts on the desktop application).
A premium account also comes with Spotify Connect, the option to skip and search tracks on mobile devices, offline listening, and removal of ads.
Apple Music’s paid tiers are similar to those of Spotify, with around $5 entry levels (for students) and $15 family plans. As a result, Spotify can be considered superior in terms of pricing because of the free option.
Note: A point not mentioned in the comparison below is the announcement of Spotify’s new HiFi service, which will deliver lossless audio quality (i.e. CD quality audio) to select markets for its premium tier. Apple Music does not currently a lossless option.
When it comes to casual listening, the quality of both services is very similar.
To get into more detail, Spotify uses ‘Ogg Vorbis’ compression, and mobile users can choose the bit rate they prefer for streaming. This is very beneficial when worrying about mobile data costs.
The desktop playback quality ranges between 160 kbps and 320 kbps for premium users. When using Chromecast, the Spotify Web Player streams using AAC (128 kbps for free accounts and 256 kbps for premium accounts).
Apple Music uses AAC files at 256 kbps. This makes the quality a little superior when comparing Apple’s service with Spotify’s free tiers, but not necessarily when compared with the paid tiers.
Some users prefer apple’s AAC format, and state that they prefer the sound in comparison to Spotify’s sound quality, even at lower bit rates.
However, let’s call a spade a spade here, both services use compressed audio. Unless you have a great quality DAC/audio interface and an amazing pair of headphones, speakers, or audio monitors, you’re simply not going to be hearing a massive difference between these services.
Music Catalog Size
Both Apple Music and Spotify currently have music catalogs of about 70 million songs.
The big difference between the two streaming services is that Apple Music lets you access your iTunes library across all owned devices. Spotify enables you to play local audio files, but they are not stored in a cloud account. With the use of iCloud, Apple Music uploads and downloads songs from all connected devices.
Apple Music gains the advantage in this category because of the music library integration, but if this is not important for you, we can say the streaming services have a very similar music catalog.
This feature is very important for users and the main reason why streaming services are used by a large part of the user base. Apple Music and Spotify give you recommendations based on the songs you’ve already listened to.
Spotify’s recommendation algorithm is very advanced, and it is very good at creating user-specific playlists automatically.
Apple Music has similar recommended playlists, but we found Spotify’s to be more accurate to the listener’s tastes.
Spotify gives you a much better ability to analyze your listening habits through their ‘Spotify wrapped’ year in reviews that they send you. There are also a bunch of other websites that can analyze your listening history in lots of cool different ways (using the Spotify API).
Apple has created the ‘Apple Replay’ feature in Apple Music, which is somewhat similar, but it’s not as comprehensive.
Spotify and Apple Music both have simple, intuitive, and clean layouts.
Apple Music is organized into 5 sections: Library, Radio, Browse, For You, and Store/Search. Within the Browse section, you find Curated Playlists and New Music. All tracks are placed in the library, including files stored on personal devices and uploaded to the cloud. iCloud sharing allows you to see all your music inside the app.
Spotify’s interface has a pretty cool arrangement because of its accessible, practical, and logical sidebar menu layout.
Comparing the two services, we have to say that the user experience is pretty similar and it’s very much a matter of preference for you.
The big difference between Apple Music and Spotify is the latter’s ad-supported free tier. This is not available with Apple Music. However, the Family Plan from Apple does not force users to live in the same home, which is the case with Spotify’s Family Plan.
The other difference we have to highlight is that, with the use of iCloud, you can easily add the music you have on your computer to the Apple Music cloud for access on any connected device. Spotify does not offer such connectivity.
However, it does make it up by being available on most possible platforms.
Who Pays Artists More?
All music streaming services pay per streamed track. The amounts are low and were investigated by authorities. BBC News reports that, in the UK, the amounts paid are the following:
Apple Music: $0.0076 per stream
Spotify: $0.0026 – $0.0049 per stream
These amounts are paid to all rights holders. Every payment is split between the artist, the composer, and the record label. BBC claims that artists receive 13%, which would mean Apple Music pays $1 for 10,122 streams.
It has to be mentioned that these figures only apply in the UK, and we have to take Spotify’s free tier into account.
Soundcharts reported in 2019 that Apple Music had 56 million subscribers. Spotify had 96 million paid accounts in December 2018. However, Spotify also had a full active user base of 207 million, including the free ad-supported accounts. The ad-supported service users make up a separate content/revenue pool.
At first glance, Apple Music pays artists more, but this cannot be verified because of the volume of users, including Spotify’s free tier.
Spotify and Apple Music are available on Android and iOS. There are desktop apps available for Mac and Windows, and you can listen to music from a browser with both streaming services.
With Spotify Connect, you can cast your music to all compatible devices. When a device has the “Spotify Connect compatible” label, the Spotify app can be used as your remote for control playback. Also, Spotify can be used on numerous devices, like PlayStation and Xbox, and with Amazon Alexa speakers.
Amazon Music can use Siri voice control to access HomePod and is fully compatible with the Alexa App (feature only available in the US) and the Echo smart speakers by Amazon.
Overall, Spotify offers more compatibility because of its use across more devices.
To conclude, there is no clear winner when comparing Apple Music and Spotify. If you want to use a free streaming service, Spotify is the service to go with. But if you’re prepared to pay, the decision is complicated and subjective.
Apple Music has better connectivity with Apple devices, but Spotify has higher cross-compatibility. If you want to listen to music when playing PS games, Spotify is the only option available.
Spotify is considered better for music discovery, but Apple Music offers the advantage of adding songs from the music library. If you have previously purchased a lot of music then this might be quite a big deal. Also, those used to the Apple interface might prefer it to that of Spotify.
The last thing we should mention is that Apple Music and Spotify are not the only music streaming services available. Other options like Tidal and Amazon can be considered if you are not happy with Spotify or Apple Music.