Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which One is Right for You?

The two premium music services are neck-and-neck in quality and value

Spotify faces a strong competitor in Apple Music. Both services are leaders in the crowded music-streaming arena. We reviewed each service's pricing, music selection, user experience, and other features to help you decide which streaming music service is best for you.

Apple Music vs. Spotify

Overall Findings

  • Offers Premium and free plans.

  • Allows music downloads for offline listening.

  • Easy to use.

Apple Music
  • Enormous music library.

  • Monthly and annual plans.

  • Available for Apple and Android mobile devices and computers.

Spotify and Apple Music, both giants in the music streaming business, are available for iPhones and Android phones and tablets, as well as iPads, iPod touch devices, and Macs and PCs.

Apple Music is also available on Apple TV, Apple Watch, and in cars with CarPlay. Spotify is also available on game consoles, speakers, TVs, smartwatches, and in many cars. The prices of the two services are similar, and their music libraries are both vast.

Price: Very Similar for Both Services

  • 1-month free trial for Premium; 3 months free when you use PayPal.

  • $9.99/month for individuals; $12.99/month for two accounts.

  • $15.99/month for a family plan.

  • $4.99/month for students.

  • Free, ad-supported option with limited features.

Apple Music
  • 1-month free trial; 6 months free with purchase of eligible audio product.

  • $9.99/month for individuals; $99 annual plan for individuals.

  • $14.99/month for a family plan.

  • $4.99/month for students.

Spotify Premium and Apple Music are both ad-free and have similar pricing structures. Both offer a free one-month trial period. Apple also offers six months free if you purchase AirPods or another eligible audio product.

Spotify has a three-month free trial offer if you sign up with PayPal. It also offers a free tier, but it plays ads every few songs. Apple Music doesn't have a free tier.

Notably, Apple offers a $99 per-year Apple Music Individual Plan option, which brings the plan cost down to $8.25 per month if you're willing to pay for a year upfront.

You can also purchase an Apple One bundle that includes Music, Apple TV+, Arcade, and varying amounts of iCloud storage. Prices range from $14.95 per month to $29.95 per month.

Catalog Size: Apple Has a Larger Music Catalog

  • More than 82 million songs.

Apple Music
  • More than 90 million songs.

You want your music service to have a broad availability and selection of songs to stream. The size of a service's music library is crucial when comparing services.

Both Spotify and Apple Music provide similar catalogs and offer content exclusive to their subscribers. Apple reports its catalog holds about 90 million songs, while Spotify claims more than 82 million songs.

Major artists are represented on both music services, including Taylor Swift, who feuded with Spotify for years but is back on the music service.

Ease of Use: Spotify Is More Flexible

  • Easier to use than Apple Music.

  • Presents related artists accurately.

Apple Music
  • Expert-driven recommendations.

  • Offers spatial audio albums.

Along with price and music selection, consider the ease of use and overall experience of a service when making your choice. Spotify has the better user experience for now.

Spotify is easier to use than Apple Music, though Apple Music has a friendly interface. You can open Spotify and listen to music quickly without much experience. Users find that Apple Music acts inconsistently across devices, and the Android experience isn't as friendly as the iOS experience.

Additionally, syncing issues when using Apple Music and iCloud can result in some frustration for listeners who are used to managing the music on their devices. However, Spotify's free tier presents annoyances caused by the interruption of ads.

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

Apple hasn't integrated discovery as well, so finding new music on your own on a mobile device isn't as easy as it should be. However, its expert-driven recommendations from human music experts and algorithms are getting better.

Key Features

There are other areas where each service shines, or dims, when compared.

  • Offline playback: Both services offer the ability to download music with their paid plans.
  • Collaborative playlists: Spotify lets you work with other people to create playlists, while playlists are strictly solo in Apple Music. You can, however, share playlists with friends.
  • Integration with existing music file libraries: Apple shines here. Downloaded Apple Music songs are saved in the Music app, where they are indistinguishable from other tracks. With Spotify, they're separate and can't easily be combined.
  • Radio: Both offer radio statins, but with Apple Music 1, Apple's curated station, Apple stands out.
  • Audio Quality: Spotify streams at up to 320 kbps, while Apple Music is 256 kbps. However, the difference here is unlikely to be noticeable, except in the slightly larger consumption of data plan allowance for 320 kbps music if streamed over a cellular network. Apple also has its own AAC audio codec and defaults to the highest possible quality.
  • Streaming: Both services stream music, music videos, exclusive offerings, and other audio content.

Final Verdict

Apple has a huge music catalog and integrates seamlessly with other music libraries, but it's not as easy to use. Spotify is straightforward to use, has an enormous subscriber community, and delivers an excellent user experience. However, it has a slightly smaller music library, and it 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 and you'll prefer the continuity in interface. If you already use Spotify and are happy, Apple Music isn't good enough to contemplate a switch.

Spotify has a slight edge overall in our opinion, but these two premium music services are neck-and-neck in quality and value. If you don't currently use either service, we'd recommend sticking with the service that works best with your preferred operating system (Android or iOS).

  • How do I transfer a Spotify playlist to Apple Music?

    To transfer a Spotify playlist to Apple Music, use a tool like SongShift (iOS only). Download Songshift, tap Spotify, log in, and tap Agree. Select Apple Music > Continue > Connect > OK. Under Connect iCloud Library, tap Continue and follow the prompts.

  • How do I transfer Apple Music to Spotify?

    To transfer Apple Music to Spotify, use the web-based TuneMyMusic tool. Go to the TuneMyMusic website and select Let's Start > Apple Music and log in. Select Allow, choose the playlists you want to move to Spotify, and select Next: Select Destination > Spotify > Start Moving My Music.

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