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

Apple Music vs Spotify
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Spotify is the undisputed champion of music streaming services, but with the arrival of Apple Music, is the challenger ready to dethrone the champ? 

I compared the services on price, music selection, user experience, and other features to help you decide which streaming music service is best for you.

RELATED: The Best Streaming Music Apps for iPhone

Price: Spotify Has More Options, But They're The Same Where It Counts

 Apple MusicSpotify
Free90 day trialUnlimited
Unlimited music
+ ad free
$9.99$4.99

Unlimited music
+ ad free
+ mobile app

$9.99$9.99
Family plan (6 people)$14.99$34.94
StudentNo$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 offers a US$4.99/month ad-free service, but it doesn't work on iPhone.

In order to use Spotify or Apple Music on an iPhone (or other iOS device), you'll pay $9.99/month for unlimited, ad-free streaming, and offline listening.

Apple offers better deals for families: $14.99/month for up to 6 users. For 6 users on Spotify, the price is $34.99, more than double than Apple's price.

Winner: Spotify overall, but for iPhone users, it's a tie.

Music Libraries: Apple Has a Bigger Catalog, But Not By Much

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 exclusive songs and albums, and have slightly different catalogs. Apple's is a bit bigger and the company has a huge position in the music industry and good relationships with many artists, all of which are advantages.

For now, here's a look at how many releases by select artists—across genres and popularity—each service offers.

 Apple MusicSpotify
Dr. Dre10+2
Emmylou Harris4028
Guided By Voices2134
Jay Z20+25
John Coltrane11696
Katy Perry155
Metallica1913
Nicki Minaj246
Taylor Swift10+0
Willie Nelson11485

 

Winner: Apple Music

User Experiences: Spotify Is Easier To Use, 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. When I use it, every second or third song can't play due to errors (though it's eventually possible to make them work).

RELATED: Become an Apple Music Expert

Music Discovery

A music service should help you discover new music you'll love. On this front, the competition is really a tie. Spotify is fairly good at presenting related artists, but some recommendations dead end. 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

Other Features: Both Have Different Strengths

  • Offline Playback: Both services offer it, but it's included in Apple Music's basic $9.99 plan; Spotify's free and $4.99 plans don't offer it
  • Collaborative Playlists: Spotify lets you work together with other people to create playlists; playlists are strictly solo in Apple Music
  • Integration with Existing Music Libraries: Apple shines here. 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 really stands out
  • Audio Quality: Spotify streams at up to 320 kbps vs Apple Music's 256 kbps, but let’s be honest—can you really tell the difference?

The Bottom Line: Spotify Wins—For Now

Apple has a huge music catalog, great family pricing, and integrates seamlessly with other music libraries, but it's hard to use. Spotify is simple to use, has appealing prices, and delivers a better user experience, but has less music and doesn't easily integrate with other music libraries.

RELATED: How to Sign Up for Apple Music

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. Yet.

And that's key. Apple Music is much newer than Spotify, so there are problems that need solving. But when Apple fixes its user experience, recommendation, and technical problems, Apple Music may be better than Spotify for many people. For now, those of us using Apple Music have to put up with its weaknesses in order to enjoy its benefits.