Spotify vs Apple Music – Which is Better?
I’ve been switching between using Spotify and Apple Music for well over six months now. So if you’re stuck choosing between these two music services, I’m gonna take you through the advantages of using Spotify versus Apple Music, what made me switch between these two services and which one I think is ultimately the better music service. First, let’s take a look at Spotify.
It’s by far the most popular music music streaming service globally and has some clear advantages over Apple Music, the first one for me being its mixes. This is why I started originally using Spotify, their mixes are fantastic. and after using both services for well over 6 months Spotify for me just does a better job creating way more personalized mixes for me to listen to compared to Apple Music. The first type of these mixes I’ve loved using are called Daily Mixes, the thing about Spotify’s Daily Mixes are instead of just taking a user’s favorite songs and matching those against a predefined genres, Spotify uses what is called clustering technology and identifies distinct subgroupings within a user’s, listening patterns, and then it will build its recommendations off of those.
So you’ll get some songs you’ve liked along with new songs Spotify thinks you’ll like. Here’s what mine looks like, you’ll see in my Daily Mix 1 it’s grouped together artists like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, The Chainsmokers etc. But in my Daily Mix 2 it’s grouped together Sam Fender, WALK THE MOON, and Bastille, and that music definitely has a different vibe from Daily Mix 1. And I’m really feeling a different mood and want something a bit slower or more show-tuney, I’ve got Ben Platt, Andrew Garfield and the Central Park Cast in Daily Mix 5, which is quite a bit different from the type of music in my other daily mixes.
The more different types of music you listen to will result in getting more daily mixes and as the name suggests, these mixes are updated every day. So, as you listen to artists and new types of music, your mixes will be updated to reflect that. Spotify recently expanded their personalized mixes to now include artist mixes, genre mixes, and decade mixes. Artist mixes are personalized mixes that start off with your favorite songs from a particular artist and then other songs you like from other artists, and then songs Spotify thinks you’ll like. So you’ll see in my Sam Fender Mix, it’ll start off with one of my favorite of his songs, Hypersonic Missiles, followed by a track by The 1975, and then others with more of my favorite Sam Fender tracks mixed in.
What I like about this feature is you do get to listen to your favorite tracks from a particular artist but Spotify also intelligently mixes in songs that you like, as well as its recommendations. So the mix never feels like it’s getting old like you’re listening to the same artist over and over again. The genre mixes group together songs you like into their genres and your decades does the same for the music you like into specific decades. And I like that Spotify makes it easy to save your favorite mixes to your library. A few other personalized mixes Spotify gives you that I enjoy are On Repeat, which is the playlists of the songs you’ve been listening to a lot recently, and Repeat Rewind, a playlist of your past-favorite tracks.
Spotify also has a Likes Playlist, which will show you all of the songs you’ve liked, and oddly Apple Music doesn’t have a similar playlist. Actually, Apple Music has very few personalized mixes. When you look at the made for you section within the Apple Music app, You just have a Get Up Mix, Chill Mix, New Music Mix and Favorites Mix, which are all based on your listening history. Occasionally you’ll see Replay playlists for a particular year as well but that’s about it. The next advantage Spotify has over Apple Music is generally, Spotify is available on more devices than Apple Music. Though Apple Music is certainly catching up.
One really unique thing Spotify has in this space is Spotify Connect, which allows you to use one device to remotely control listening on another and it’s available on all types of devices: Speakers made by Sonos, Bose, Amazon, Google etc., your computer, Tesla and other vehicles and many more devices. Here’s an example of how it works, I can open Spotify on my iPad Pro, select the Spotify Connect logo at the bottom left corner and from there I can select to play music on my Google Cast speakers, my Amazon, or Sonos speakers, or you can also select AirPlay speakers like my HomePod Minis or Bluetooth devices like my AirPods Max or Sony XM4s.
Now, another cool thing about this feature is once I start playing music and let’s say I move over to another device like my computer and then I open Spotify, Spotify Connect will show the music currently playing on my devices in the Spotify Mac app, so I can control music currently playing with any device that has the Spotify app on it, including my Apple Watch. That’s why Spotify Connect is such a cool feature and quite unique. The next advantage Spotify has over Apple Music are its algorithms and recommendation engine and this historically has been what’s kept me coming back to the service over and over again.
I think that Spotify just has better recommendations for what to listen to next based off the original song I asked for compared to Apple Music. Some of this is likely due to the clustering technology we talked about earlier that Spotify uses to identify listening patterns, which is why I’ll likely never start playing Ed Sheeran on Spotify and then have it recommend the Star Wars theme by John Williams, like I’ve had happen on Apple Music. Spotify is smart enough to know that while I have both of these songs in my library and I like both of them, I don’t normally listen to them within the same listening session.
Apple Music for a while touted that it doesn’t rely solely on algorithms and has human curated playlists, which can be good for discovering something outside of your normal listening mode, but overall, I’ve found Spotify’s algorithms recommend better songs to me. Another major benefit with going with Spotify is it has a free tier so if you want to not pay for a music service, but still use one, just with ads, Spotify is your only option since Apple Music does not have a free tier. Another benefit you get with Spotify is it’s a more popular service, which can benefit you socially if all your friends or family are using it and you want to easily share playlists with them, and with Spotify you of course get Spotify Wrapped which is a cheeky end of year summary on everything you’ve listened to that you can share with friends and family and something Apple Music has no comparison for.
The last advantage, for some at least, that Spotify has is podcasts. Spotify not only has podcasts you’ll find on other apps but has also paid for exclusive distribution rights for podcasts like the Michelle Obama podcast, the upcoming Harry and Megan podcast and of course, one of the most popular podcasts out there, The Joe Rogan Experience. For me, I don’t like the podcasts clutter the home screen of Spotify without any way to turn them off. So for me, the podcasts being with music is a bit of a downside but it might not be to you. So those are all of the advantages I found with using Spotify.
But what about Apple Music? Why would you use Apple Music over Spotify? The first reason I think you would is Apple Music support for lossless audio and Dolby Atmos at no extra cost. Right now, Spotify doesn’t support either format. They’re still using a max quality of 320 kbps Optus, and 256 kpbs AAC on the web play, even though in 2021 they announced they would be rolling out a lossless tier by the end of the year. As of February 2022, that feature is nowhere to be found on Spotify. And in general, I do find the tracks that I listen to on Apple Music versus Spotify tracks on Apple Music, to me, on better audio equipment, they sound just a bit more dynamic and just a bit better.
And I’m not even talking necessarily about lossless versus not lossless here. I’m listening to most of these tracks on my AirPods Max, AirPods Max do not support the lossless audio format, so I think it just comes down to what codec Spotify is using versus Apple Music. Now, another feature of Apple Music has that might also explain,it’s better audio quality is called Apple Digital Masters. These badges on albums signify that the album has been mixed in a way that results in audio that is virtually indistinguishable from the original 24 bit studio masters, though of course you also have the ability to stream the lossless version for many albums, guaranteeing you’re getting the best version of music possible.
Dolby Atmos Music is a newer format that allows you to listen to music in a more immersive way, making it sound like the music is all around you vs. the tight stereo sound we’re currently used to. And with spatial audio on the AirPods, AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, it can make it feel like you’re there in the recording studio with the artist. Now, in my experience, unfortunately, a lot of Atmos tracks suffer from muffled vocals or vocals just being completely overpowered by the instrumentals. I think this feature right now, it’s still in its early stages as people get better at mixing at most tracks. The next thing I’ve really liked about using Apple Music over the past.
Six months is the radio feature. Unlike most streaming services where a radio station is an auto-generated playlist based off a particular song or artist, the radio tab in Apple Music is actually old school radio with different stations and hosts like Zane Lowe and my personal favorite show, Rocket Hour with Elton John. And you don’t have to listen live to a radio station, you can play your favorite shows on demand as well. And when you’re listening to a radio episode and like one of the songs you’re listening to, you can easily add the song to your library and give it a like I found the radio feature to be great for discovering new music.
I’ve discovered so many new artists and songs from this feature that I don’t think I would have otherwise because they’re so far outside my normal listening patterns. Related to the radio feature, Apple Music also has a lot of video interviews with artists and other extras that you’ll only find on Apple Music. Apple Music will pay artists to record specific versions of their song made for the Apple Music platform, like their most recent At Home sessions. And sometimes the songs are quite good, like this most recent duet from Sam Fender, one of my favorite artists. Another major benefit of Apple Music is it’s integration with iTunes, so you can import your iTunes library into Apple Music. You can also upload any music that Apple Music doesn’t have to Apple Music’s cloud library, making your uploaded music available to play on all of your devices.
And this is something I had to do during the holidays for Michael Buble’s original Christmas album, which you can’t find on Apple Music or Spotify. This is a major benefit and reason to choose Apple Music over Spotify. Spotify does not allow you to upload songs to a Cloud library. What Spotify allows you to do is import local files that you have on your computer into the Spotify app on your computer. And then you stream those files to other devices, like your phone, but only if those devices are on the same Wi-Fi network, as your computer. And that’s a major limitation for this feature.
Now, the last two reasons I think you would choose Apple Music over Spotify are one, Spotify is still not natively supported on the HomePod Mini, but Apple Music is. Second, with Apple Music, you have the ability to save on an Apple Music subscription through an Apple One Bundle, so if you already subscribe to other Apple services like Apple TV+, you can save some money by going this route. Alright, so those are the advantages I found with using Apple Music and Spotify. So which one do I think is better? Well, if music quality is your top concern, then I think you would choose Apple Music. It has better sounding tracks. Plus it has lossless support and Dolby Atmos.
Now if you want a service that has better recommendations and personalized mixes, Spotify is the clear winner there. If you want a free service or a music plan just for couples, Spotify is your choice there as well. Now if you want a music service with live radio, pick Apple Music. And if you want the ability to upload music that you own, Apple Music is the clear winner there as well. If you want to listen to music on Google or Amazon smart speakers, pick Spotify, and if you want to listen to music on the HomePod Mini, pick Apple Music. Overall, I think if Spotify had Dolby Atmos support, support for lossless audio, if it had a similar radio feature to Apple Music, a cloud upload feature, and it had the ability to clear the podcasts that are cluttering the home screen UI.
I think it’d be the clear winner. But Apple has enough differentiation with Apple Music to hold its own against Spotify’s better algorithms and personalized mixes. For me, it’s hard to choose, but I’ve mainly been sticking with Apple Music because of its better sound quality, radio feature, and the cloud library upload feature. Now, hopefully everything I’ve gone over up until this point has helped you decide between these two services.
But if you’re still stuck, there is one more thing I haven’t mentioned yet that may help you decide and that’s price. Here’s the price breakdown here in the US. Spotify has free tier, a student play for $4.99 a month which includes access to Hulu and Showtime, an individual tier for $9.99 a month, Duo tier, perfect for couples for $12.99 a month, and a family plan for $15.99 a month with up to 6 accounts, and. Apple Music meanwhile has a voice plan for $4.99 a month, which is perfect for those who just want to use the service with their smart speakers. It also has a student plan for $4.99 a month which comes with an Apple TV+ subscription, an individual plan for $9.99 a month and a family plan for $14.99, one dollar a month less than Spotify.
If you have any further questions about Spotify or Apple Music, How to use Apple Music, YouTube Music, and our comparisons between Spotify and Youtube Music, and YouTube Music vs. Apple Music,