When Apple unveiled its music streaming service Apple Music to the world, many people thought that it was the end of Spotify. In fact, many people still believe that. With ongoing troubles with various artists and a fierce competition from Apple, Spotify isn’t exactly in a great situation right now. However, Spotify still has the edge when it comes to music streaming service.
At least, that’s my take having used both streaming services for a considerable amount of time. People are right when they say that you’re more likely to use whatever came built-in with your device — Apple Music, case in point — and if you’re satisfied with it, you’re less likely to switch to something else.
While that is true, I didn’t know what I was missing until I gave Spotify an honest try. After my switch from Windows to Mac, iTunes — and with it, Apple Music — came integrated. I later bought an iPhone because that’s the best companion for a Mac computer. The iPhone also came with Apple Music as you’d expect. Plus, with three months of free trial, it was a no-brainer to give Apple’s foray into the music streaming business a try.
It’s been more than 3 months I’ve been an Apple Music subscriber. And the time has come to let it go. Because I’ve found something that’s much, much better. I’ve found the solution to the problems I’ve been facing with Apple Music. As a bonus, the solution comes with even more features that I wasn’t even expecting in the first place.
As you already know, the solution is Spotify. Apple Music’s biggest rival is actually still a better player in the market. Why? That’s the reason you’ve come to read this post. Let’s break down this review of Spotify Premium and Apple Music based on features and caveats.
Music Streaming Service
The fundamental service of both Apple Music and Spotify is streaming unlimited music with a monthly subscription fee. Make no mistake that both Apple Music and Spotify does a great job at that. I’m not a die-hard music fan, but I’m sure you can find die-hard music fans using both Apple Music and Spotify out there.
Both services have a huge collection of music that you can search for, stream, and even download for offline playback in a select number of devices. Both Apple Music and Spotify have dedicated radio stations that you can tune into, and if you’re not sure what to listen to, you can browse based on genres.
The biggest upside of Spotify is its large selection of playlists. I’m sure playlists are a thing of Apple Music, too. But during my months-long usage of both, I’ve come to feel that Spotify has a greater selection of playlists — both Spotify-curated and user-created — which is a big plus point for someone like me who just wants to discover music that interests me.
So, while both of the music streaming services win in this context, if you’re more like me who’s looking for relevant playlists to put on and just listen, you may find Spotify more interesting. Also, as a bonus point, you can actually listen to Spotify right now with a free account right on your browser here: [https://open.spotify.com/browse]. That’s a big plus since you can’t do that with Apple Music, at least, not in a way that’s easier than this.
Having said that, if there’s a particular artist who doesn’t release their tracks on either of these services, then yours will be an exceptional case, and you’ll need to decide for yourself. I’d still ask you to continue reading to find out some of the other differences between the two.
Discover New Music
For months, I’ve loved Apple Music because it’s “For You” tab — a tab full of playlists that caters to my interests based on what I’ve listened and ‘hearted.’ I’ve discovered tracks that I did end up loving. Apple Music does a really great job at connecting you with tracks that you’d love based on what you’ve already loved.
I still haven’t found such a ‘heart’ or ‘like’ feature on Spotify when listening to tracks. So, I’m not sure if there’s any way other than adding a music to my Spotify collection to let the system know what kind of Music I’m interested in. As a result, there is no playlist that’s curated ‘just for me based on my preference in what I’ve liked early on.’
However, Spotify’s Browse section is pretty elaborate. I can almost always find the kind of music that I’m looking for. While Apple Music, in its For You tab, would recommend playlists from all genre, in Spotify, I’m forced to hunt down the kind of music that I want to play. Sometimes that’s annoying because I’ve gotten used to Apple Music presenting everything in front of me.
But in the end, they both have different yet great music discovery systems and you can’t really go wrong with either one.
With many platforms out there, it really comes down to what you use on a regular basis. People would say that if you use Apple products — iPhone and Macs — then it’s a no-brainer that you should opt for Apple Music. I beg to disagree. Just because something inferior is already presented before you doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. It takes less than five minutes to install and get started with Spotify on both Macs and iPhones.
On the other hand, it may make sense to avoid Apple Music if you don’t have an Apple device. But that’d still be a wrong idea. Apple Music is available on Android. If you’re on a Windows computer, iTunes has been there for a long time now. Although iTunes is not so pleasant to use, Apple Music on Android actually works fantastic. I’ve installed it and I didn’t miss a thing. It keeps the same interface of Apple Music’s iOS app while maintaining the Android (Material Design) vibe.
So, the argument that you shouldn’t go with Apple Music if you aren’t on Apple devices doesn’t really stand anymore. Both Spotify and Apple Music works on Android, Windows, Mac, and iOS. If you’re on a Linux-based operating system, however, Spotify will be easier for you as it has a native app that you can download and install.
Compatibility Between Multiple Apps
If you’re a geek like me, chances are, you have more than one device. Perhaps a tablet, one or more laptop, one or more smartphones, TV, gaming console, Chromecast, etc. The true convenience lies in being able to streamline the use of a service across all of your devices. And that’s an area where Apple significantly falls back. It’s one of the major reasons why I’m leaving Apple Music behind and moving toward Spotify Premium.
In a connected home environment like mine, Spotify will really shine. With Apple Music, you can’t really control what’s playing on another device. If you started playing a song on your laptop, and you suddenly feel the need to lie down on your bed, you can’t control what’s playing from your bed with your phone.
A better scenario is if you have a Chromecast — the $35 wonder from Google that everyone must have — you can’t take advantage of it with your Apple Music subscription. It simply won’t stream to Chromecast. There is absolutely no way to stream Apple Music to your TV unless your TV is, well, an Apple TV.
So, how does Spotify shine in this area? Allow me to explain, happily.
When at least one Spotify player is on in a network, every other device connected to that same network will be able to control what plays on that device. So, if I’m playing something on my Mac, and I want to switch to a different track, I can do that from a different room on my Android or iPhone.
I can obviously cast Spotify to Chromecast or PlayStation 4, and control what’s being played from literally all of my devices. It’s remarkable how it works. From both of my computers, both of my smartphones, and even from my smartwatch — which is an Android Wear running on Moto 360 2nd Generation — I’m able to control what’s on TV via Chromecast or PlayStation 4.
As you can guess, having multiple devices in my room, it makes life tremendously easier to have access to the player from all of the other devices. Spotify enables me to do that. It’s a big win for Spotify. If I were to choose the main reason behind my switch, this would be it.
But that’s not it in terms of why Spotify is better. Let’s move on to a few other areas where I liked Spotify over Apple Music.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first, you can stream the whole collection of Spotify right from your browser. And that, my friend, is a big plus point. Sometimes you’re at a friend’s place, and you fire up the Incognito window of Chrome at your friend’s computer and log into your Spotify to stream music instantly. It’s a great feature that often goes overlooked.
Apple Music doesn’t have anything like that. And I’m almost certain that the Apple executives will not let that happen anytime soon.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the desktop experience.
iTunes — Same as Ever Before
With Apple Music, there’s not really new as it lives within iTunes. There’s not much to say about it. If you’re a Mac user, chances are, you’re already familiar with it. It feels okay to me. There’s nothing wrong with it nor is there something great in it to be excited about. It’s fairly straight forward and keeps somewhat the same user interface of its iOS counterpart.
That was my impression about iTunes — I had no impression. Until, one day, I gave Spotify’s desktop app a try.
Spotify — Nothing Like Ever Before
The first thing that crossed my mind after firing up Spotify on my Mac is how user-friendly and beautiful it is. I’m not saying iTunes is not user-friendly, but iTunes doesn’t have a lot of features to begin with. Spotify, on the other hand, has a certain charm to it that just made me want to explore it further.
The main navigation options are on the left side of the screen with the currently playing track on the lower left. On the far right is an ongoing activity of my Facebook friends who are on Spotify. It’s a great way to keep tabs on what my friends are listening and discover tracks that I would have missed otherwise.
Read What You Listen
The mid-section is where all the fun happens. It’s like the browser of Spotify where you look for music, see playlists, browse through the genres, and do a lot more. My favorite thing to do here is click the LYRICS link from the bottom and see the lyrics of the track that I’m listening to.
Can you believe it? Lyrics! I love having lyrics without having to search for it. And Spotify has this built-in! I didn’t know what I was missing by sticking to Apple Music just because it was already there!
You can even click on a particular line of the lyrics and the track will be right there. It’s really, really great and you’ll know it when you’ve tried it. As an added bonus, you can even search for tracks using lyrics. Simply click on the LYRICS link at the bottom, and click on Search by Lyrics on the upper right.
It’s a useful feature and you know it. The ability to view lyrics of a playing track would be the second reason I’ve made my switch to Spotify.
Share With Your Friends — Anywhere
Have you tried sharing a track from iTunes? What happens is an iTunes link is generated. When your friend clicks on that link, iTunes on their browser will be loaded. If they have iTunes, it’ll launch and load that track. I’m not even sure if that’ll work if that friend does not have Apple Music subscription. I’m guessing it won’t.
Enter Spotify. It’ll give you an open.spotify.com link that you can share with your friends anywhere. It’ll load the Spotify web player. Your friends will only need to sign up for a free account — which they can do with a Facebook account — and they’ll be able to listen to it right away! No download necessary.
To make matters even sweeter, if you have a website, you can actually embed a Spotify player so that your friends can just listen to it without having to do anything at all! Now, that’s just sweet, isn’t it? See the magic here.
Well, that pretty much wraps it up. Both Spotify Premium and Apple Music subscription costs $9.99 per month. I would say that it’s easier to pay for Apple Music than it is for Spotify Premium from an unsupported country like Bangladesh. iTunes cards are available everywhere. You can just top up your iTunes store credit and you can pay for Apple Music from there.
For Spotify Premium, you may have a hard time getting your hands on gift cards. But if you have a credit card or PayPal with a US billing address you won’t have any trouble subscribing to Spotify Premium. Also, if you’re a student in the US, Spotify has a special pricing for you that you check out here.
I Like Because…
I like Apple Music because…
- Great music discovery system.
- ‘For You’ tab features tracks I might like based on the tracks I’ve ‘hearted.’
- I can set up multiple Apple devices to automatically download music that I’ve downloaded on other devices (iPhone to Mac) without performing a manual sync.
- Easier to pay for using iTunes gift cards.
I love Spotify because…
- An intuitive design of the desktop app.
- A better collection — if not larger, too — of playlists for moods and occasions of all sorts.
- Spotify remote makes all Spotify-installed devices a remote control.
- The ability to see lyrics of a track when I’m listening to it.
- The ability to look up a track using its lyrics.
- The ability to embed a track — or an entire playlist — on my blogs.
- See what my friends are listening to on the friends’ feed.
- Casts to Chromecast and PlayStation 4.
Spotify for me. I guess, I made it clear on the title, too, didn’t I? Spotify may not have all the latest tracks from all of the artists — Taylor Swift comes to mind — but that’s okay. If I want to listen to Taylor Swift, I can go to YouTube and look her up. For everything else, Spotify wins, for now.
If you keep tabs on the tech news, you know the ongoing trouble Spotify is having with a few artists. I do hope more artists won’t stop releasing their albums on Spotify and Spotify will do something to resolve the situation. They have created a great service with insanely useful features. I’d hate to see it go to waste for some mistakes on Spotify’s part.
Do you listen to music from any music streaming service? What’s your take on Spotify vs Apple Music? Do you find any of the features mentioned above particularly useful? Let’s hear it in the comments! 🙂