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

Spotify and Apple Music are the heavyweights of the music streaming industry, but which one is better is unclear. Music streaming is big business, and after years of services being available, it has become a very big market. In general, many apps are trying to keep the attention of subscribers willing to pay a monthly fee. However, two giants are gaining more prominence at the top of the chart: Spotify and Apple Music.

With many smartphone users listening to music regularly, a subscription to a streaming app is a must. As both are more prominent in the market, most users will choose one or the other as their service of choice.

The two look like similar music services from abroad, and are very interchangeable. Upon closer examination, there are a number of differences between the two audio entertainment options.

And while users of a service don’t necessarily have a willingness to switch platforms, there may be benefits in one that they don’t have in the other, but which would be interesting. So, here’s a comparison between them.

Apple Music vs Spotify: Age and Audience

In general, Spotify is the oldest, and has been in the market since 2006. Therefore, it has the longest consecutive time on the market. Apple Music was created much later in 2015, but it benefits from Apple’s history with iTunes, which was launched in 2001, followed by the iTunes Music Store in 2003.

Also, it wasn’t a project that Apple started from scratch, as the elements came from Beats Music, the service it bought as part of its broader $3 billion acquisition of Beats.

As a long-time streaming option, Spotify has established itself as the 800-pound gorilla on the market. That being said, according to a survey released in January, Spotify was the largest globally, with a 31% share in 2021, although down from 33% in 2020.

The same survey found that Apple Music ranked second, serving 15% of the nearly 524 million global listeners of music streaming services. As Apple does not provide the number of subscribers, there is no official word on how many subscribe. Spotify claims to have 182 million subscribers.

Apple Music is Spotify’s closest, albeit still distant, competitor. However, it is closely followed by Amazon Music and Tencent Music with 13% each and 8% for YouTube Music. Given this, it is possible that Apple Music will be overtaken by a competitor soon.

Neither the size of the subscriber base nor the age of the service will matter to end users, other than knowing that both have considerable knowledge and size that will be around for some time to come. They won’t disappear overnight all of a sudden. Both are here to stay.

Best choice: Apparently Spotify is the preference of most users.

Apple Music vs Spotify: Music and Audio Content

Credit: Disclosure/Canva
Credit: Disclosure/Canva

Something that can be very important for users is the catalog of songs and content available to listen to. It’s no use paying for a service if it doesn’t have the music you like.

According to Spotify, he has “more than 82 million tracks, including over 4 million podcast“. Meanwhile, Apple offers a more extensive catalog of 90 million songs to listen.

The difference in amount does not matter to most users as both will comfortably cover the vast majority of popular music tracks. But the point is that each one has a lot of music for you to pass.

There is a difference in terms of quality for listening to this music if you look at bitrates. Spotify apps offer Ogg Vorbis streaming quality equivalent to 160kbps for free userswhile your service premium goes up to 320kbps.

Apple Music default bitrate is lower in 256kbps for AAC streams, but it’s not the end of the story. There’s Lossless to take into account. Apple has introduced lossless as its high-definition audio option, which offers music with higher fidelity than usual. This includes two levels of quality: 24-bit/48kHz and 24-bit/192kHz lossless Hi-Res Lossless.

To get around these higher amounts of bits means that a greater amount of bandwidth is needed. For Apple Music Lossless, that means a bitrate up to 1411kbpsmuch larger than normal.

The main caveat here is that you need the proper hardware to listen to Lossless Audio. Spotify said it would introduce a similar high-fidelity service, called Spotify HiFi, but failed to launch despite its promotion, and in January, it was postponed indefinitely.

Both services offer curated playlists produced by music experts, but Apple Music does one better with “Radio”. Stations like Apple Music 1 and Apple Music Hits are effectively digital radio stations with curated hosts and playlists, with programming streamed live to all users who tune in simultaneously.

Best choice: In addition to having more options, Apple Music has superior sound quality.

Apple Music vs Spotify: Podcasts and Other Content

Credit: Disclosure/Canva
Credit: Disclosure/Canva

Both Apple and Spotify are familiar with podcastsas long as the long-lasting content they can provide to users, but they operate differently.

For starters, Spotify offers podcasts within its app, clearly like podcasts. Technically speaking, podcasts on the Apple platform are a separate entity held within the Podcasts app. Each side offers unique content that the other can’t and plenty of third-party podcasts to listen to.

Apple does a lot more with video, offering music videos alongside tracks, documentaries and other content. Spotify provides limited video like video podcast playback and some exclusive content, but it’s certainly not as big as Apple’s offering.

Best choice: By having a single app, both with music and podcasts, Spotify seems like the best option. That way, you don’t have to access multiple apps to hear something.

Apple Music vs Spotify: Other Resources

Credit: Disclosure/Canva
Credit: Disclosure/Canva

In addition to the aforementioned lossless, Apple Music provides a large collection of features that could benefit users. For starters, Audio Space with Dolby Atmos support means you can enjoy a 3D effect for specially produced music.

With necessary Apple personal audio devices like AirPods Max, you can enjoy listening to audio around you, changing as you move your head. Then there’s offline playback, with users able to download songs and listen to them from their device without internet access. Spotify also offers this under their Premium service.

Deep integration with Apple’s ecosystem also helps the service a lot, such as allowing Siri queries to reproduce anything in the catalog. Accessing music across all Apple devices, and delivering between items, such as an iPhone to a Mini HomePod, gives even more control over how a user listens to their music.

With the inclusion of a web-based player and apps for non-Apple platforms such as Android and Windows, Apple Music can also be used on a considerable number of devices that a person might own.

Likewise, you have extensive device support for Spotify, again with a wealth of apps to use. In most places where you can play Apple Music, you can do the same with Spotify.

Best choice: The two are tied in this regard.

Apple Music vs Spotify: Free Layers

One big difference is how each service treats free users. Apple Music does not offer a free tier, but it does provide a 30-day free trial of the service. Sometimes this trial can be long, up to six months with the purchase of some audio devices. But you will have to pay a subscription or leave after that time.

Meanwhile, Spotify offers a Premium subscription as well as a Free plan. This free tier is always available, but you don’t get the same experience as those who pay for the service. Free users will have to listen to advertising interrupting their playlists to begin with. This happens every 2 or 3 songs, which isn’t that different from commercial radio.

You are also not able to play a specific song on demand as you are limited to listening to random playlists such as an album or playlist that contains the song but in shuffle. This doesn’t apply to Spotify on desktop, but it can be annoying when listening through a smartphone.

Meanwhile, paying users have unlimited access to skip playlists. Those who don’t pay may find that they can’t skip tracks from time to time. If you’re in a spot with spotty Internet, you might have trouble listening to music in the first place, as there’s no offline listening option.

Lastly, you wouldn’t get the high quality music streams in the free tier as they are reserved for Premium. While you might get by with Spotify’s no-cost option, it will always be spurring you on with frustration to pay.

Best choice: Apple Music has a 30-day free trial, much better than Spotify’s free option.

Apple Music vs Spotify: Plans and Subscriptions

Apple Music Values:

  • students: Apple Music University Subscription for R$ 11.90 per month;
  • Individual: it costs only R$16.90 per month, after the free trial period;
  • Familiar: Up to 5 people can use your account in the Family Sharing group, and you pay only R$24.90 per month;
  • Apple Music Individual and Family subscriptions are also included in the Apple One, which brings together four other Apple services and is available from R$26.50 per month.

Meanwhile, Spotify’s plans work like this:

  • Individual costs R$ 19.90/month after the offer period, for up to 1 account;
  • Duo costs R$24.90/month after the offer period, for 2 accounts;
  • Family costs R$34.90/month after the offer period, for up to 6 accounts;
  • university costs R$9.90/month after the offer period, for 1 account.

Best choice: Apple’s plans are more affordable than Spotify’s.

After all, which is better?

In general, both plans are good. Both can stream music to users seamlessly, and you can listen to your favorite songs whenever you want for a reasonable monthly fee, but if you want more than just that, Apple Music is the best option.

The Spotify Free tier is undoubtedly an attractive option for those willing to listen to advertising and don’t particularly care what they listen to. Still, not all users are willing to do so.

For what Apple offers, new users with no experience with either service could look at the feature lists and easily side with Apple for most things. Those wanting a high-fidelity experience will also have to side with Apple Music, at least until Spotify decides to implement its version.

There aren’t many elements on Spotify to justify using it, but its user base is probably very happy to get music piped to them from a big name in streaming. A base that is too happy with what they have to worry about switching jobs.

Spotify is the gorilla in the market, and it got there by getting there early and providing good service to its users and a free plan. Apple is certainly growing, and with a compelling feature set and desirable long trial periods, it could continue to cut Spotify’s lead for quite some time.

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