With Apple’s huge announcements at WWDC this year, along came Apple Music. The world has been waiting for a while to see Apple’s take on streaming music, and in the meantime, Spotify has risen to become the most popular platform. So now that Apple has entered the ring, which service should you use?
We’ll start out easy. Price-wise, all the major streaming services cost $9.99 per month, with the exception of Tidal’s $19.99 HD Audio option and Amazon Prime’s yearly subscription (Amazon’s cost works out to $8.25 per month). Apple definitely tried to get the record labels to slide that price down a bit, but could not get them to budge. The one large advantage here is Spotify’s free tier. While the free version of Spotify has lots of visual and audio ads, as well as a severely-limited mobile experience, it is still an option, which is more than you can say for Apple Music.
Winner: Spotify thanks to the presence of multiple options.
Spotify claims to have 30+ million tracks in its library. Apple claims that Apple Music will also have 30+ million songs. Sadly, Apple Music does not necessarily include all the songs from the iTunes library because separate deals must be made with each label for their music to be streamable. Most notably, The Beatles’ music will not be on Apple Music at launch.
Apple Music also unveiled a few ways that users can discover new music. First, there are Genius-like playlists that find music similar to what you like as well as human-curated playlists that focus on a particular genre or mood. In addition, Beats 1 will be a radio station broadcasting 24/7 with superstar DJs and exclusive performances. Spotify can match Apple with thousands of human-made playlists in the service as well as the ability to follow your friends’ playlists. It is possible, however, that Beats 1 could be a great way for listeners to hear new acts. Kinda like that radio thing that used to be popular.
Winner: Apple by a hair.
This is a big one. There have been countless articles hating on Spotify’s royalty system, claiming artists get paid measly fractions of pennies per stream. Regardless of how bad the system is for the income of artists, every service (except for the very inferior Tidal) pays the same amount to the artist. Apple recently released their figures, which are (you guessed it) equivalent to Spotify’s.
Community / Social Integration
One of Apple Music’s biggest unique features is Connect, a social platform for artists to share exclusive or behind-the-scenes content that fans can comment on, favorite, or share. While it is yet to be seen whether or not this will be a repeat of Apple’s failed music-based social network Ping, Spotify has very minimal social integration. Yes, you can post/share songs on a variety of social platforms and you can message and follow your friends, but Apple Music will likely have those same exact features.
Winner: Apple because we’ll give Connect the benefit of the doubt.
User Interface / Ease of Use
One of Apple’s trademarks is making things simple and easy to use, so we have no doubt that Apple Music will be very intuitive and user-friendly. Also, there is the added convenience of having it automatically installed in every single iPhone and iPad in the world. But Spotify has done a fantastic job of making its service as easy to use as possible, integrating it well with Facebook and Twitter, and cleaning the desktop and mobile apps until they are perfectly streamlined. Honestly, the services will likely be extremely similar in their layout; a smartphone screen is only so big.
All in all, these two competing services are awfully similar. However, Spotify has been around this block a few times and already has 75 million users, 20 million of whom pay monthly for the service. Since nobody likes switching services, we award this preliminary battle to Spotify, mostly because they got there first.