Apple Music vs Spotify: Which Is the Best Music Service?

It's not a tie, but it's close

Apple Music vs Spotify
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Spotify was the undisputed champion of music streaming services until the arrival of Apple Music. Is the challenger ready to dethrone the champ? Compare the services on price, music selection, user experience, and other features to decide which streaming music service is best for you.

Spotify and Apple Music Prices Are the Same

 Apple MusicSpotify
Free90-day trialUnlimited w/ ads

Unlimited music
+ ad free
+ mobile app

$9.99$9.99
Family plan (6 people)$14.99$14.99
Student$4.99$4.99

Spotify offers a free tier, but it plays ads every few songs. Apple Music is ad-free, but its free period is only 90 days. Spotify's premium account is free for the first 30 days.

To use Spotify or Apple Music on an iPhone or another mobile device, you pay $9.99 per month for an unlimited, ad-free streaming and offline listening experience.

Winner: It's a tie.

Apple Has a Bigger Music Catalog

Low price is nice, but you also need a big selection of songs to stream. The size of the music libraries available on Apple Music and Spotify is crucial.

Both services offer different, but similar, catalogs. Apple reports its catalog holds 45 million songs, while Spotify claims "30 million plus" songs and adds another 20,000 songs to its library daily. All the major artists are represented on both music services. Even Taylor Swift, who feuded with Spotify for years, is back on the music service.

Winner: Apple Music

Spotify Is Easier to Use and More Flexible 

Along with price and music selection, you have to consider the experience of using a service when making your choice. Spotify has the better user experience—for now.

  • Ease of Use: Spotify is easier to use than Apple Music. You can open Spotify without much knowledge or experience and start listening to music quickly. Apple Music is a tangle of overstuffed menus and inconsistent behavior across devices. Even though Spotify is better, its free tier doesn't work very well. 
  • Music Discovery: A music service should help you discover new music you'll love. On this front, the competition is a tie. Spotify is fairly good at presenting related artists, but some recommendations are dead ends. Apple, on the other hand, hasn't integrated discovery as well as it could, but its expert-driven recommendations are promising and should mature with the service.

Winner: Spotify

Both Services Have Strengths

  • Offline playback: Both services offer it with their paid plans.
  • Collaborative playlists: Spotify lets you work together with other people to create playlists, while playlists are strictly solo in Apple Music.
  • Integration with existing music libraries: Apple shines here. Downloaded Apple Music songs are saved into iTunes or the Music app to make them indistinguishable from other tracks. With Spotify, they're separate and can't easily be combined.
  • Radio: Both offer it, but between Beats 1, Apple's curated stations, and the reinvented iTunes Radio, Apple stands out.
  • Audio Quality: Spotify streams at up to 320 kbps vs. Apple Music's 256 kbps, but let’s be honest—can you tell the difference?
  • Streaming: Both services stream music and music videos.

The Bottom Line: Spotify Wins—for Now

Apple has a huge music catalog and integrates seamlessly with other music libraries, but it's hard to use.

Spotify is simple to use and delivers a better user experience, but has less music and doesn't easily integrate with other music libraries.

If you're an Apple user with lots of music in your library, Apple Music offers a great experience. If you already use Spotify and are happy, Apple Music isn't good enough to demand that you switch.

Even though Spotify might have a slight edge now, these two premium music services are neck and neck in quality and value. The choice may just come down to personal preference.