Although there are many music streaming subscription out there, Apple Music and Spotify have solidified themselves as the top two. But whether you’re Team Spotify or Team Apple Music, or deciding between the two, it’s good to know what you have been paying for – and more importantly, what you’ve been missing out on.
The number one difference between the two is, of course, Apple Music on mobile is only and limited to to Apple devices. So if you don’t have an iPhone, sorry.
Free vs pay to play
The second outstanding difference is that you can use Spotify for free but you can’t use Apple Music without paying. The free model of Spotify does come with significant disadvantages. The first one is that every few songs you play you’ll have to listen to an ad or two. The most infuriating one is that you can’t really make your own playlists. While you can add a bunch of songs to one playlist, Spotify will add more songs of the same flavour to that playlist. And no matter what you do, you can’t remove them and you only have a set amount of 6 skips per hour. With that plus the earlier mentioned ads, it’s easy to get irritated at the app when you keep hearing all the random songs. On the flip side, it
forces allows you to discover new tracks that you might like.
While this is probably an important criteria for many, it doesn’t really matter as much in this situation if you listen to pop songs and current music. If you have different tastes, however, your decision to choose which to use is going to be much easier. As someone who enjoys anime and Japanese music, I personally found that the Apple Music library had more songs that I wanted. Certain tracks that Apple Music had, Spotify didn’t.
But the thing about the more obscure tracks is that even though either app might have that specific song/album/artist, they might not have another song and album also by the same artist. The good thing is you can always search in both apps whether they have that song you’ve listened to since 2008 or you can get it the old fashioned way by buying the digital of the song/album or ripping it from a CD.
User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)
Let’s be honest here, for flaunting your music taste on Instagram Stories, Spotify does have a better aesthetic. But in general, in terms of usage, both Apple music and Spotify work great. I know most users would prefer the dark theme that’s Spotify has though, so maybe Apple should look into that. As for the UX, Apple Music’s kind of spotty while Spotify’s is great.
One of the biggest issues with Apple Music is your downloaded music not being able to play. What? Yes, it’s true. This is a known issue for all Apple Music users including myself. One of my friends actually left for Spotify because of this. What happens is, out of the blue, the track(s) will appear grey and you can’t play it. There’s no way to solve this unless you fiddle with some settings. While there is a known solution that’s easy enough to do, I really wish Apple would fix this. Though the problem seems to be pretty big, it must be noted that it rarely happens. In the 3 years I’ve used the service, it has only happened about three times. So while it’s not really a dealbreaker, it still sucks.
With Apple Music Connect (the social media for Apple Music which no one used) getting the boot just a week ago, you can no longer see what your friends are listening to on Apple Music. But if you really want to know what all your friends hearing, Spotify still has this service. Both the apps have a ‘Radio’, however, you’ll quickly discover that this radio isn’t like one at all. Apple Music’s radio just consists of a number of songs sorted in a station according to a genre or theme like ‘Holiday Classics’. When you click on the station you’ll start hearing songs being played one after another, and unlike a real radio or Spotify’s free version (haha) you can skip the song if you don’t want to hear it. As for Spotify’s radio, you basically just pick a song or playlist and a station is created based on it. If you like the station you can add it to your library.
Both Apple Music and Spotify have 3 different per month pricing models, student, individual and family. For Apple Music, the student price is SGD $4.98, for individual $9.98 and for the family of up 6 users, $14.98. In comparison to Spotify’s $4.99 for students, $9.90 for individuals and $14.98 for the family plan of up to 6 users as well. So there’s barely any price difference with the plans but my general recommendation is to get the family plan, for either service, with any number of people (just not yourself) to get the most value. Something to be aware of with the student plans is for Apple Music, they use Unidays to verify if you’re a student – and only university students get to use the student plan. For Spotify, you can be a Polytechnic student and still have access to that sweet $4.99 plan.
Overall, the two services have a lot in common and a few differences here and there. You should choose which to pay for depending on your needs and preferences!