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Which Is the Best Music Streaming Service?

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Spotify and Apple Music are the two biggest players when it comes to music streaming services. Both companies offer more songs than you could listen to in a lifetime, available to stream or download on almost any device.

But choosing between Spotify and Apple Music is no small task. We’ve compared the key features of each service below to make the decision as easy as possible.

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Price

Spotify Apple Music
Standard $9.99 $9.99
Ad-Supported Free Not available
Voice-Only Not available $4.99
Duo $12.99 Not available
Family $15.99 $14.99
Student $4.99 $5.99

Apple Music and Spotify offer a range of subscription plans at similar price points, with each service offering a standard individual plan for $9.99/month and Apple offering a discounted rate if you sign up for an annual plan at $99/year.

You can try out either service for free with a one-month free trial. However, when that trial ends, Spotify is the only service that lets you keep listening for free forever on its ad-supported tier.

Listening to ad-supported Spotify means:

  • Adverts appear in the app and play after every few songs.
  • It’s not possible to download music for offline listening.
  • Mobile users can only listen in shuffle mode, with six skips per day.

The cheapest Apple Music option is the Apple Music Voice plan, but this plan is severely limited and only lets you play music through Siri commands. So it’s only worth considering if you only ever listen to music through a HomePod.

Both services let you link six accounts for a discounted family plan. With Apple Music, you all need to be part of the same iCloud Family Sharing group. In contrast, Spotify only asks that you each have the same address linked to your account. Spotify also offers a Duo plan for couples, which is cheaper if only two of you are signing up.

To get a student plan, you need to prove your eligibility using UNiDAYS for Apple Music or SheerID for Spotify. Both streaming services require you to be a college or university student, with Apple Music limiting you to a maximum of 48 months on the student plan.

As a student, you also get extra freebies. Apple offers a limited subscription to Apple TV+, but Spotify gives you access to both SHOWTIME and ad-supported Hulu.

All options considered, these services are priced similarly, but Spotify wins out thanks to offering more options.

Winner: Spotify

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Library

Both Spotify and Apple Music have over more tracks than you could ever hope to stream or download. Technically, Apple Music has a bigger library, with over 100 million tracks, while Spotify lags behind with 80 million. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any mainstream artists that aren’t available on both services.

Spotify also expands its music library with a huge selection of podcasts available directly in the app. All of the biggest podcasters are there—many of them exclusively on Spotify—making it easy to keep all your audio entertainment in one place. Spotify even uses your musical preferences to suggest new podcasts you might like.

Although Apple Music doesn’t offer podcasts in the same app, it’s much better than Spotify at handling local music files. Spotify keeps local files separate from the rest of your music collection and forces you to sync whatever you want to listen to from a computer.

In contrast, Apple Music integrates local files with the rest of your library. It also lets you upload to the cloud with iCloud Music Library, so you can stream or download local files from anywhere in the world like you would stream anything else. The same goes for any music you purchased in iTunes, which automatically appears in your Apple Music library.

Winner: Apple Music

Spotify vs. Apple Music: New Music Discovery

The best part of a music streaming service is discovering new music that you might have never found without it. Spotify and Apple Music each offer a range of tools to help you find new music, including curated playlists and radio stations.

Spotify and Apple Music both let you create “radio stations” inspired by certain tracks. But Apple Music also has live digital radio stations that are broadcast all over the world. Keep up with your local stations or check out Apple Music 1 to hear shows from the world’s best radio presenters.

The Search section in Spotify and the Browse section in Apple Music let you look for popular music by selecting a genre or mood that you like. But the best place to discover new music is in the Made For You section of Spotify or the Listen Now section of Apple Music.

Made For You in Spotify creates five Daily Mix playlists for you to listen to throughout the week, each angled around a different genre you like. It also creates a Discover Weekly playlist, which resets every Monday, and a Release Radar playlist with all the latest releases from your favorite artists.

Apple Music offers fewer personalized playlists to choose from, although each is significantly different from the last. You get New Music, Friends, Favorites, Get Up!, and Chill playlists to choose from. You can also find a New Releases section in the Listen Now tab, along with various suggestions based on artists or albums you listen to.

Although the curated playlist selections appear similar across both services, popular opinion suggests that Spotify is far better at finding new music that you might actually like. This is likely due to the fact that it’s been in the business—and harvesting data—for much longer than Apple Music.

Winner: Spotify

Spotify vs. Apple Music: App Interface and Availability

Spotify and Apple Music offer very similar apps. Each app is easy to navigate, with a sidebar available on the desktop, and tabs running along the bottom of the screen on mobile.

Apple Music presents a clean white design while Spotify opts for black and green. Although you can also darken Apple Music by putting your device in Dark Mode.

Both services are available on Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS. Although, the Apple Music app can be unstable on Android devices. You can also access either service from a web browser by visiting open.spotify.com or music.apple.com.

When it comes to smart speakers, TVs, and games consoles, Spotify is far more likely to be available than Apple Music. That is, unless you own an Apple HomePod, which only works with Apple Music.

Despite Apple’s famed ecosystem, Spotify even offers better playback continuity across multiple devices. If you’re listening to music and want to switch devices, tap the Devices button in Spotify to choose from your available options and seamlessly switch playback. There is no such option for Apple Music, unless you want to switch playback from an iPhone to a HomePod, which you do by tapping your phone on top of the speaker.

Winner: Spotify

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Lyrics, Credits, and Artist Information

Scroll to the bottom of the artist page on Apple Music to read a brief biography, including where and when the band formed. Popular albums even include a review or description at the top of the page, highlighting the best tracks.

Spotify takes this a step further by also giving you track credits, telling you how many monthly listeners an artist gets, and even selling physical merchandise in the app. You can also use Spotify to get alerts about the latest concerts in your area from your favorite artists, so you’ll never miss a show.

Both streaming services let you view the lyrics to a song as you listen to it, but Apple Music features lyrics for much more of its library. You can also use Live Lyrics in Apple Music to view karaoke-style lyrics, letting you tap a different line to jump to that place in the song.

Apple Music is the only service that lets you find songs by searching the lyrics, making you far more likely to find a song that’s stuck in your head if you don’t know who sings it.

Winner: Draw

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Audio Quality

For the audiophiles out there, this is likely to be the most important category for you, and it’s one where there’s actually a considerable difference between the two services.

Both services offer a range of audio quality settings, to help you find the right balance between high-fidelity audio and streaming data charges. Spotify lets you choose between 24kbps, 96kbps, 160kbps, and 320kbps.

In contrast, Apple Music streams at 256kbps at standard, but can drop down to 64kbps to save data if you enable the High Efficiency setting. But to take audio quality a step further, Apple also offers Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless audio that streams music at up to 24-bit/192kHz. That’s the equivalent of over 9,000kbps.

The downside to Lossless audio is that it only works with wired speakers or headphones. Spotify has promised a similar HiFi option, but we’re still waiting to hear when it will come out. It’s also likely to be limited to wired speakers and headphones.

Another feature that lifts Apple Music a step above Spotify is that it offers Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio. This technology simulates a surround sound speaker setup using headphones or regular stereo speakers.

Winner: Apple Music

Spotify Has More to Offer Than Apple Music

Apple Music and Spotify are both excellent streaming services. Spotify definitely comes out on top in most categories, but if you have a lot of local files in your library or want to listen in Dolby Atmos or Lossless audio quality, Apple Music is still the better option for you.

That said, most people are better off with Spotify, thanks to its free tier, superior curated playlists, broader compatibility, and exhaustive artist information. Whichever streaming service you decide to go with, it’s easy to transfer your existing library using third-party apps like SongShift, so you don’t need to worry about losing any music.

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