While Spotify has been around for longer than Apple Music, both apps feature a huge library of music and podcasts, tons of playlists and claim to have massive user bases. But which of the two is the best music streaming service?
Scroll down to discover the differences between Apple Music and Spotify in terms of price, interface, audio quality, features and more…
An individual subscription to Spotify Premium is priced at $9.99 / £9.99 / €9.99 a month, or $4.99/£5.99/€4.99 a month if you’re a student. Spotify also offers a Duo option for couples at $12.99 / £13.99 / €12.99 a month, as well as Family plans for up to six users at $15.99 / £16.99 / €15.99 a month.
The streaming service does tend to offer trial promotions for a month or three to those who haven’t tried Premium before.
Spotify has a free version of its service, which has the same library but features ads and doesn’t allow for the option to download music. Free users also cannot choose and play songs in any order and don’t have access to the highest bit-rate quality either.
Apple Music charges $10.99 / £10.99 / €10.99 a month for its individual membership, or $5.99 / £5.99 / €5.99 a month for students. The platform also offers a $16.99 / £16.99 / €16.99 a month Family plan for up to six people and an all-in-one subscription to multiple Apple services starting at $16.95 / £16.95 / €16.95 a month with Apple One.
There’s no free version of Apple Music, but those looking to save a bit of cash can subscribe to the Voice plan for $4.99 / £4.99 / €4.99 a month to access the service through the Siri voice assistant only.
Apple also runs promotions for its service, offering a 1-month free trial to new users, or a six-month free subscription when you buy certain Apple devices.
To summarise, Spotify cheaper for individuals and offers the best savings for couples, whereas Apple Music comes with a lengthy free trial if you’re an Apple user. Both services are on par for students and families when it comes to cost in the UK, however.
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Spotify makes use of a black background with white text to contrast against it. As far as we can tell, there isn’t a ‘light’ theme that reverses those colours.
The iOS and Android apps for Spotify can be a bit tricky to navigate at times, but feature sections like ‘Your Library’ which is where you can access saved songs, albums and playlists. ‘Search’ you see the latest charts, releases and Spotify-curated playlists, and ‘Home’ shows a mix of curated content based on your listening preferences, new releases, recently played content.
Apple Music has a much brighter user interface, though the transparency effects and album artwork are presented very similarly to Spotify’s when a track is playing.
The main sections in the app include ‘Listen Now’ for recently played music and recommendations, ‘Browse’, ‘Library’, ‘Search’ and a separate ‘Radio’ button.
Music and podcast catalogue
Spotify supports music, podcasts and has expanded to offer audiobooks. You can access a catalogue of over 100 million songs along with these podcasts and audiobooks with a free account or Spotify Premium.
However, only Premium members can play songs in any order, download music, listen ad-free and stream at up to 320kbit/s through the desktop, mobile and tablet apps. Free users are limited to a lower quality 160kbit/s.
Spotify doesn’t offer much in the way of exclusive music outside of its Spotify Sessions recordings. However, the service has a growing list of exclusive podcasts.
Apple Music offers its own Apple Music Sessions Content and has played host to exclusive content from the likes of Taylor Swift, Drake, Pharrell Williams and more in the past.
More generally speaking, subscribers can access over 100 millions songs and 30,000 playlists on Apple Music, along with live radio and curated playlists. However, there are no podcasts or audiobooks, with these instead found in the Apple Podcasts and Apple Books apps, respectively.
One of Apple Music’s biggest strengths is its audio quality. The streaming service supports lossless resolutions of 24-bit/48kHz or Hi-Res lossless at 24-bit/192kHz for CD-quality streaming, although none of Apple’s wireless headphones can play lossless audio, while the HomePod speakers can, but only up to 24-bit/48kHz. That’s a bit of an own goal by Apple.
Spotify has confirmed that it will be getting lossless audio with its highly-anticipated HiFi tier. However, this has yet to launch as of spring 2023.
Both Spotify and Apple Music offer an extensive range of curated playlists, content and recommendations to help you to discover and listen to new music.
Spotify also offers features like the Enhance button that adds suggested tracks to your playlists, as well as a Blend feature to generate a playlist with both your and a friend’s music tastes.
Apple Music has live radio stations, while both apps support voice commands with the help of Siri.
However, by far the most talked about Spotify feature is Wrapped – the app’s end-of-year breakdown of your listening habits from the past year. Apple Music offers a similar experience with its annual Replay feature, which includes similar stats and a personalised playlist to help lessen the FOMO when Wrapped drops each December.
Both Spotify and Apple Music are compatible with a range of devices.
Each service is compatible with iOS, Android, Mac and Windows, along with a web player that lets you access your music on a browser wherever you are. Spotify Connect enables an even wider breadth of support on wireless speakers and music systems, though you can connect to devices with AirPlay 2 on Apple Music, but the same can be said of Spotify too.
The two streaming services are also available to play on supported TVs (although Apple Music is not as extensive), cars, game consoles (including the PS5 and Xbox Series X) and smartwatches, as well as natively on Sonos speakers. Given the breadth of compatibility that Spotify offers, it gets the win here.
Overall, Spotify and Apple Music offer similar services. They’re priced similarly, and have roughly the same-sized catalogue.
The main benefits Apple Music has are audio quality, with lossless resolutions and Spatial Audio supported on the platform, and live radio. The app also comes with a lengthy free trial when you pick up certain new Apple devices.
Spotify, meanwhile, is cheaper on its standard Individual plan and ties in podcasts and audiobooks as well as music. There’s also the allure of Spotify Wrapped, with Apple’s Replay not quite getting the same hype when December rolls around. It’s also more widely available than Apple Music is when you factor in Spotify Connect support.
If it’s access to higher quality audio, then Apple Music is the better option, though you are somewhat restricted in listening to that higher quality audio on Apple devices.
Of course, Spotify offers a free plan too, so if you’re looking to save some cash in 2023 and don’t mind hitting shuffle and sitting through ads, Spotify Free is your best bet.