“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Warren Buffet
Streaming music update: I used spotify premium for about 4 months and then decided to try Apple music too. I have been using Apple music for about 2 months now. Full disclosure – I am an Apple fan boy – its madness actually – we have 2 iphones, 2 apple tvs, 2 ipads, an iMac, and some beats headphones. I wanted to give an update on my personal experience – mostly as a comparison of Spotify vs. Apple Music (I realize there are other streaming services out there but believe these 2 are the biggest (based on number of subscribers) and believe both have a ridiculous number of songs – in excess of 30 million (don’t believe other services have libraries this large).
My first reaction to Apple Music, after having used Spotify premium for 4 months, was that there are a number of differences in how these 2 services deliver their content. I guess I would have supposed that they would be fairly similar, as they are both popular music streaming services and both cost $9.99 per month. However, my experience is that they each have a distinct style and quite different interfaces as well as options and features.
I was quite comfortable navigating the various tabs and screens within Apple music (user interface) and it seemed quite intuitive but I am also already familiar with iOS. I primarily used the app on my iPhone 6S but also used it on my Apple TV as well as via iTunes on my iMac. One of the features that drew me to Apple music is their “curated playlists”. I am not an expert but know there are differences in how Spotify and Apple music compile their playlists. I believe Spotify relies on algorithms while Apple music playlists are curated by people. Both Spotify and Apple music have extensive libraries that make on-demand searches quite easy. I noted that the playlists however, were very different. For example the daily playlists from Spotify premium employ a tactic that appeared to be about 50/50; 50% songs I already knew (and liked) and 50% “new” songs that I was unfamiliar with – that a Spotify algorithm thought I might like based on the other 50% that I already had in my library or via heavy rotation. I found these playlists to be pretty accurate and I admit they did a pretty good job of providing me with additional songs that I might like based on what I already had been listening to.
Apple music uses a different approach. Upon initially signing up for Apple music, I was asked a series of questions about my musical preferences – favorite genres, artists, etc. This was used to develop the “for you” tab in Apple music. Each day Apple music includes 4 or 5 playlists for that day – these playlists are based on my preferences. For example, one of today’s playlists for me is “alternative hits: 2001”. This is a typical playlist – curated songs from a certain year in a particular genre. Most playlists are fairly short – 20 to 30 songs, with a few being a little shorter and a few having as many as 100 songs. Most of the playlists were to my liking but they didn’t seem as accurate to my individual tastes as the Spotify premium daily playlists were. Depending on the playlist, I find myself skipping numerous tracks that don’t particularly suite my taste. It seems to me that Apple music isn’t really learning based on which tracks I am skipping. Spotify premium seemed to “learn” my preferences over time and the daily playlists “honed in on” my preferences. I have noticed that my daily Apple playlists have a fair amount of redundancy with the same playlists popping up frequently. I find myself somewhat bored with some of the playlists after a few days. On the “for you” tab it also has “my new music” playlist and “my favorites mix” playlist. The new music playlist wasn’t very accurate – at least not for me – I thought spotify’s weekly discover playlists were better and more in line with my preferences. The Apple favorites playlist did seem to be accurate and presumably is based on which songs/playlists I listen to most frequently.
I don’t think Apple music is as advanced as Spotify at social networking (for example, Spotify has Facebook integration). It is easy to follow your friends on Spotify and see which playlists they have added. Apple music doesn’t appear to be that strong in social networking (believe iOS 11 will address some of this shortfall); however, you can send a friend a personal playlist (e.g., via text) and they can then add it to their favorites. I also noted that any changes I subsequently made were also reflected in my friend’s list as well. I did appreciate the top charts feature in apple music (under the browse feature). I also appreciate how Apple music incorporated my existing playlists alongside new ones. I did something similar with spotify but had to import my existing playlists.
I think both services are well polished and easy to use. Both are priced at $9.99 per month (although there are some differences in their family plan pricing – Apple seems to be a better value if you have a large family). Both have extremely large libraries of songs – more than you could possibly ever listen to. . .
Being an Apple fan boy I prefer the navigation within Apple music but believe an objective analysis would give the edge to spotify. I think spotify is better for music discovery (better playlists in my opinion) as well as social networking. Also, spotify has both a free and premium service (unlimited skips). Apple music does not offer a free version. Apple does have some exclusive content (e.g., Taylor Swift – you know you like to listen to 1989 – admit it!) as well as beats 1 radio as distinguishing features. IMHO spotify is the clear winner.
I also recommend the CNET review of these services in a side-by-side comparison on Youtube – Apple music vs. spotify (cnet prize fight).
Drop me some comments below and let me know which streaming service you prefer.