In an age of streaming giants, two music services reign supreme. Apple Music and Spotify distinguish themselves with larger libraries and extensive features.
Each service has such a massive library that you’ll rarely come across missing songs. Apple has the occasional, temporary exclusive tracks, such as Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, which was exclusive for three weeks. While these songs are on Apple Music first, they always make their way to Spotify. Spotify, on the other hand, has loads of exclusive content including Spotify Sessions and commentary. This is great for people who like covered, acoustic, stripped, and live versions of songs. While individuals might have a preference over the library differences, they’re close enough to be considered a tie.
In the pricing scene, each service offers individual plans ($9.99/month, $4.99/month for students) and family plans for up to six people ($14.99/month). Spotify’s student plan also offers free subscriptions to Hulu and SHOWTIME, which is a temporary promo, but a nice addition. Only Spotify boasts an ad-driven free plan and it gives it points in the social category. A Spotify link can be listened to by anyone on any device, but if you have Apple Music, sharing a song requires a subscription. Spotify also allows friends to collaborate on the same playlist through shared link – a service Apple still has yet to offer.
There is one place where Apple Music shines brighter: auxiliary content. While you’re listening to Apple Music, the service will often suggest the music video, which adds to the listening experience. Apple also offers full lyrics for every song and the ability to pull up a song with just lyric fragments. Next time you only remember a few words from a song on the radio, you’ll be able to find it with Apple Music’s search engine.
Spotify’s parallels are cool additions, but definitely don’t beat out Apple. Their dynamic covers allow artists to loop a short clip while their song is playing. The app also syncs with Genius lyrics on a very limited selection songs to provide tidbits of information as you’re listening about the artist and song. Spotify offers 3rd party integration though, allowing developers to create web-apps that you can add on to Spotify. These apps can be super useful, like automatically creating playlists from concert setlist (through Setify) or populating playlists with every new song from artists you follow each week (Spotify Companion).
Spotify’s final strength is its suggestion algorithms. Spotify uses the playlists you listen to (curated and personal) and songs you listen to to create a “taste-map.” That taste-map then suggests songs to you in Release Radar, Discover Weekly and other personalized playlists. You can like and dislike songs, creating an even more tailored selection. Apple has similar alternatives, but Spotify’s suggestions are spot-on almost every time.
All in all, Apple Music and Spotify both have great features, and it’s mostly a matter of personal preference. For me it’s Spotify’s superior suggestion algorithms, web-app integration, ad-based free version and collaborative playlists that take the cake.
Graphic: Jiah Lee