Spotify or maybe Apple Music? Music streaming industry is growing like never before. We have some big players on the market and even if those streaming services may seem very similar to each other at first sight, they differ. A lot. To help you decide which service to choose, we have created a comparison of those two biggest services.
In this article:
What was first—Spotify or Apple Music?
Let’s start with some numbers and basic info.
Spotify is a company created in 2008 in Sweden. It totally changed the way people listen to music, and today, with 271 Million users across 79 counties, Spotify is the most popular music streaming service in the world (but is it the best music streaming service? 🙂) Spotify has over 100 Million active subscribers, who have unlimited access to their catalog of over 50 Million songs, over 700 Thousand playlists and 3 Billion playlists.
Apple Music was launched in 2015 by Apple Inc in over 100 countries. Now, it gives access to 60 Million songs and Internet radio station Beats 1, which broadcasts 24 hours a day. One of the creators of Apple Music was the famous frontman of rock group Nine Inch Nails—Trent Reznor.
How much is Apple Music and Spotify?
Spotify, as well as Apple Music, offers a free three-month trial period, so users can test their premium features on all devices and get access to the whole music catalog before they decide to buy a full subscription.
You leave your email address or log in with Facebook, and boom! You’re in.
During the trial period, users can test all the features of both streaming services, such as ad-free streaming songs, downloading tracks, playing them offline listening to their fave hits across all devices.
After the end of the free version, the price is the same in both cases. The cost of unlimited music on Spotify and Apple Music is $9.99 per month in the United States. This is a regular price, however, both music streaming services have prepared student and family plans.
If you are a student, Spotify and Apple Music have a pretty sweet offer for you: you can listen to unlimited music for only $4.99 per month. It is also possible to buy a family plan in which up to six people can listen to music for $ 14.99 per month. Therefore, you and your friends or family can enjoy multiple accounts for a really low price. That’s great value for money!
As you can see, those two competitors have a pretty similar offer…
Both, Apple Music and Spotify subscriptions, automatically renew each month.
You can cancel the service at any time. Your access to the full version of Apple Music or Spotify will be restricted at the end of your current billing cycle.
One of the main differences between platforms is that a canceled Spotify premium subscription brings your account back to the free, ad-supported version. Therefore you’re still able to listen to your favorites jazz musicians, pop singers or whatever is your jam.
As you can see, there is no winner in this category, because Apple Music’s monthly subscription offer is the same as Spotify. However, if you want to listen to music for free, with some limitations like ads or shuffle playing… Spotify wins.
Let’s move to the next part of our comparison between Apple Music vs Spotify. Now time for the next category which is…
How many songs are on Spotify and Apple Music?
Spotify gives you access to over 50 million tracks, while Apple Music allows users to stream over 60 million songs. The difference is that Apple Music often gives listeners access to exclusive perks and original content such as special video content.
You can also connect your Apple Music account with iCloud Music Library. It will give you access to your personal library of tracks across all your devices.
In this way, you can store up to 100,000 songs and listen to them wherever you want. Spotify also offers you access to your local music files, but they aren’t stored in the cloud.
So, if you’re an iOS user, you’ll appreciate Apple Music for perfectly synchronized music libraries on all of your Apple devices. The integration of Apple Music with iCloud creates a kind of ecosystem which is a big advantage for a premium package.
One cool thing about Apple is that they have exclusivity deals with some music artists. Spotify is lagging behind here.
If you’re an iPhone fan, the winner in this category is Apple Music, so it means that we have a draw in this Apple Music vs Spotify comparison.
Quality of sound
Spotify uses the Ogg Vorbis format with a bit rate that will vary depending on your subscription.
The standard quality of the desktop app is the Ogg Vorbis 160kbps format and premium users can take advantage of 320 kbps. On iOS or Android smartphones and tablets, Spotify offers different levels of audio quality, but note that the higher the quality of streaming music, the more data it will use. That’s important if you listen to music on a mobile device.
Whenever possible and depending on your mobile plan, choose the highest configuration to enjoy the best music quality.
Apple Music uses a bit rate of 256kbps, which seems lower than Spotify’s 320 kbps but is still pleasant to your ears. On the other side, Apple Music uses AAC files (Advanced Audio Coding). Apple also defaults to the highest sound quality, when the device is connected to Wi-Fi. However, when streaming over iPhone using data transmission, the sound quality is lower. You can change this in App settings.
Spotify’s higher bit rate seems to give the advantage, but you probably will not notice much difference between the highest-quality Spotify and Apple Music while enjoying to the same song on these two music streaming apps unless you are an audiophile.
However, the numbers and data are ruthless, and we give a point to Spotify in this category.
Interface and navigation
Let’s move from technical data to something more pleasant which is listening to the music we love.
To do this, we must first find it… It is time to deal with the music search engine. Like I mentioned before, both music services have huge musical libraries. But how easy is it to find a song or music album that interests us? The interface, navigation, the technology behind the search, and overall user experience are key for this case.
There is no chance to mistake Spotify with Apple Music in this category. Spotify’s mobile application is maintained in dark colors, while Apple Music presents us with the interface in white.
Navigation on these two applications shouldn’t cause problems for anyone—even for those who are using those apps for the first time.
Thanks to good design, using both mobile applications is a breeze and you will easily find every feature you are interested in.
Albums have visible covers, so everything looks very clear in both applications. All the main tabs like home page, library, radio and so on, are placed at the bottom of the screen and you can go to any feature only with one click.
Spotify has a lot of visual content such as short videos and animations that appear while listening to certain songs. On the other hand, Apple Music has a very helpful function that allows you to find a song, even if you don’t know the title. All you need to do is to type a piece of lyrics in the browse tab. Now that’s something!
We think that this is a more useful function than displaying fragments of clips, which, in addition to being aesthetic, download more data and unload battery in the phone much faster.
We are not buying it, so in this category of Spotify vs Apple Music comparison, we give a point to Apple.
Radio and discovering music
Thanks to music streaming services, you can discover new songs and artists. This is one of the main reasons why users decide to buy a full subscription, so it is very important that the algorithms display us the music that we may love.
Spotify offers personalized playlists created weekly, just like Discover Weekly and Release Radar.
Discover Weekly is a playlist with music suggestions based on what you were enjoying lately.
Release Radar is a playlist of just-released songs that you might like.
Such lists, with undiscovered music selection, are automatically created each week and they allow you to discover music without any effort. But you don’t have to wait a whole week to discover more new songs. As a Spotify subscriber, you get an option called Discover, that offers a set of songs by artist, album or individual song based on your listening preferences and favorite tracks at any time.
The browse function is also noteworthy. We will find there ready-to-use music lists created based on the state of our well-being, favorite genre or the best songs. This section also contains new releases and listeners. can listen to top hits around the world. Music recommendations in this section change depending on the time of day or day of the week.
Apple Music has a New Music Mix playlist which is very similar to Spotify’s playlists and it’s also created weekly. In Apple Music, we have the For You section and, just like Spotify, it shows playlists based on user experience. For Apple, the recommendations include albums and playlists.
Both services give you the possibility to enjoy your time with their radio. In the case of Spotify, you can listen to the radio connected with your favorite artists or even single tracks. By selecting the content you really like, you can listen to automatically generated radio stations with similar music.
Apple Music is a bit different at this point. It has a live radio called Beats 1 Radio, which you can listen to in real-time and it’s hosted by DJs and their guests. You can launch Beats 1 Radio in the Apple Music app just by clicking on the radio tab from the menu.
But how does Spotify and Apple Music know what I may like?
It is all about algorithms. When you sign up to Spotify or Apple Music, at the beginning you select your favorite music artists and genres that will help to create later recommendations special for you. That’s enough information to provide you with some primary personalization.
To sum up this point—Spotify is more concentrated on algorithms and based on the music you have listened to before. In general, in most cases, the recommendations really match our musical tastes. But if you are looking for a more traditional live radio station, Apple Music will be your choice.
In this category, we give points to both Spotify and Apple Music because both methods are good. It’s only up to you which one you like more.
Swedish music streaming app allows users for social media integration: you can connect Spotify accounts with Facebook, so subscribers can follow each other and see what they are listening to.
It also gives the ability to share and recommend songs, music albums, and playlists. Subscribers can publish their music library to Facebook, where other people have an opportunity to Comment or Like on the activity. Subscribers can also share their new music discovery with their followers on Instagram’s Insta Story.
Another smart feature Spotify has is a special code for each song. By scanning such code using a smartphone camera (switch from the search bar in the Spotify app) it allows you to immediately play the song. Spotify codes can help music lovers to share music and their favorite artists with others.
By subscribing to Apple Music, you can also share your music library with friends and see what they are listening to. To do it, go to the For You section in the app, then scroll down to Friends Are Listening To.
If you want to share the playlist with your friends or family, turn on a feature called Connect in your profile. When you make a playlist public, other people can find it using the Search tab. You can also send your music lists to friends using the Messages, Mail, Twitter, Facebook app, using AirDrop and many other methods. We can say that Apple Music doesn’t offer many social sharing options.
Most of the main features are within the application, thus creating a kind of ecosystem. Spotify offers very advanced integration of many social services, as well as the ability to see what people you follow are listening to in real-time.
To sum up—Spotify is the undeniable winner in the category of social media integration.
This way we have come to the end of our comparison of Apple Music vs Spotify. The table below will help us take a look at the features of Apple Music and Spotify once again.
$9.99 a month
$9.99 a month
$4.99 a month
$4.99 a month
Price of family plan
$14.99 a month (up to 6 people)
$14.99 a month (up to 6 people)
Yes, 3 month
Yes, 3 month
Up to 320kbps Ogg Vorbis
10 000 songs per device
Up to 100 000 while using iCloud music library
Yes, Beats1 Radio
Yes, Apple Podcasts
Yes, Spotify app for iOS and Android
Yes, only for Apple devices
Desktop app (PC)
Yes, for Windows and Mac
Yes, for Windows and Mac
Both services introduced many new features to their music services which have the task of improving our listening habits, but the winner is only one.
And it’s Spotify.
Spotify’s victory consists primarily of the interface which is clear and accessible for everyone. Features such as playlists generated automatically, allow users to make each week a new music discovery and listen to uncountable radio stations depending on the listener’s taste and mood. But Apple Music features and continuous improvements make it a worthy opponent for Spotify in 2021. They are still a great alternative for iPhone and Mac users. It's up to you to decide which service you like best. If you make the call to move from Apple Music to Spotify, here's how to transfer your playlists.
So what is your choice? Leave your comments and questions below!