What is the best music streaming service?

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 your life, available to stream or download on almost any device.

But choosing between Spotify and Apple Music is no mean feat. 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
Speech only Not available $4.99
Duo $12.99 Not available
Family $15.99 $14.99
Pupil $4.99 $5.99

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

You can try both services for free with a one-month free trial. However, when that trial period ends, Spotify will be the only service that will let you listen for free forever at the ad-supported level.

Listening to ad-supported Spotify means:

  • Ads appear in the app and play every few songs.
  • It is 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 very limited and only lets you play music through Siri commands. So it’s only worth considering if you’re only listening to music through a HomePod.

Both services allow you to link six accounts for a low-cost family plan. With Apple Music, you all have to be part of the same iCloud Family Sharing group. Spotify, on the other hand, only asks that you each have the same address associated with your account. Spotify also offers a Duo plan for couples, which is cheaper if you sign up as a couple.

To get a student subscription, you need to prove your eligibility with 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 comparably, but Spotify wins thanks to offering more options.

Winner: Spotify

Spotify vs Apple Music: Library

Both Spotify and Apple Music have more than you could ever stream or download. Technically, Apple Music has a larger library, with more than 100 million songs, while Spotify lags behind with 80 million. However, it is difficult to find mainstream artists who are not available on both services.

Spotify is also expanding its music library with a huge selection of podcasts available right in the app. All the biggest podcasters are here – 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 does not offer podcasts in the same app, it is 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 everything 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 just like you would stream anything else. The same goes for any music you’ve purchased in iTunes, which will automatically appear in your Apple Music library.

Winner: Apple Music

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Discovering New Music

The best part of a music streaming service is discovering new music that you might never have found without. 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 allow you to create “radio stations” inspired by certain songs. But Apple Music also has live digital radio stations broadcasting all over the world. Stay tuned to your local stations or visit Apple Music 1 to hear shows from the world’s top radio hosts.

The To search section in Spotify and the To leaf through in Apple Music, you can search 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 centered around a different genre you like. It also creates a Discover Weekly playlist, which resets every Monday, and a Release Radar playlist of the latest releases from your favorite artists.

Apple Music offers less personalized playlists to choose from, although each playlist 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’re listening to.

While the curated playlist selections for both services seem similar, popular opinion suggests Spotify is much better at finding new music you might like. This is probably due to the fact that it has been in the business and collecting data 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 on the desktop and tabs that run along the bottom of the screen on mobile.

Apple Music presents a sleek white design, while Spotify opts for black and green. Though you can also make Apple Music darker by putting your device in dark mode.

Both services are available on Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS. Though Apple Music app may be unstable on Android devices. You can also access both services from a web browser by going to open.spotify.com or music.apple.com.

When it comes to smart speakers, TVs and game consoles, Spotify is much 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 continuity of playback 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 switch to playback seamlessly. There’s 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 the speaker.

Winner: Spotify

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Lyrics, Credits & Artist Info

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 songs.

Spotify takes it one 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 notifications from your favorite artists about the latest concerts near you, so you never miss a show again.

Both streaming services let you view the lyrics of a song while you listen to it, but Apple Music offers lyrics for much more of its library. You can also use Live Lyrics in Apple Music to view karaoke-style lyrics so you can tap another line to jump to that spot in the song.

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

Winner: Draw

Spotify vs Apple Music: Audio Quality

For the audiophiles out there, this is probably the most important category for you, and it’s one where there’s a significant difference between the two services.

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

In contrast, Apple Music streams at 256 kbps by default, but can drop to 64 kbps to store data if you use the High efficiency institution. But to take audio quality one step further, Apple also offers Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless audio that streams music up to 24-bit/192kHz. That’s the equivalent of over 9,000 kbps.

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 comes out. It’s probably also limited to wired speakers and headphones.

Another feature that takes 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 certainly 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, wider compatibility, and extensive artist information. Whichever streaming service you choose, it’s easy to transfer your existing library with third-party apps like SongShift so you don’t have to worry about losing your music.

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