Spotify vs Apple Music: The pros and cons of both

[EDITED/UPDATED ON MAY 24, 2017]

I first subscribed to a music streaming service in 2005 and I haven’t looked back since.

I have zero regrets.

The first service that I subscribed to was Yahoo! Music Unlimited. Yes, this was really a thing. It worked just like streaming services do now, basically. For example, you could stream millions of songs on their desktop app and you could build playlists. The service even supported various MP3 players, although it did not support the iPod. The service was limited, but better than the also limited competition, and eventually closed down in 2008.

After that, I used Microsoft’s Zune service. I wanted a high quality MP3 player and settled on the Zune (over the iPod) because it had an accompanying streaming service. The service worked well…but a few years later I bought an iPhone 3GS.

Good-bye Zune. Hello App Store.

On my new 3GS, I first subscribed to MOG. It was a nice service (it eventually got bought by Beats, who later got bought by Apple), but I soon discovered Rdio, which had a much better web interface and a more tastefully designed app. I subscribed to Rdio for a very long time before switching to Spotify. Some where in there I tried both Rhapsody and Beats, but I wasn’t impressed enough with either of them to leave Spotify.

Then Apple Music came around and I switched over to that as my primary music streaming service. However, after about one year of Apple Music use, I went back to Spotify. I just missed those Discovery Weekly playlists too much.

Today there is a lot of debate and discussion about who has the better streaming service, Apple or Spotify. For those of you trying to decide, I would urge you to try both, as they both have ways to try the service for free.

If you have tried both, but still cannot decide, I have provided some information below to help you along. I tried to remain as nuetral as possible, which was actually pretty easy, since they are both excellent services.

Spotify vs Apple Music: Pros and Cons

Apple Music:

Pros:

  • Great Siri integration with the iPhone and iPad.
  • Beats 1 shows are available on-demand and with playlists.
  • There are various exclusives, usually lasting for a week or two before coming to other services, such as Spotify.
  • There is a three month free trial.
  • If you have a billing question, you can call and talk to a human being.
  • The “My New Music Mix” personalized playlist is good. It is updated weekly and consists of personalized song recommendations. (This is very similar to Spotify’s Discover Weekly.)
  • The “My Favorites” personalized playlist is somewhat similar to the “Your Daily Mix” playlists from Spotify. The “My Favorites” playlist is a playlist that includes the songs you listened to the most that week.
  • The Apple Music phone and iPad apps include lyrics, so you can view the lyrics to the song you are listening to without having to use a 3rd party app or web site. (Note: not every song has this feature, but most of them do.)
  • There is a 99.00 dollar per year individual plan. (Both services have a 4.99 per month student plan and a 14.99 per month family plan. Both services also have a 9.99 per month individual plan. But on Apple Music, if you pre-pay for a year, you can get the 99.00 individual rate.)

Cons:

  • Offline saving remains buggy.
  • There is no access through a web browser.
  • The iTunes integration is (arguably) poorly done.
  • There are only two choices for streaming quality while on a cellular network.
  • There is no free tier, although the Beats 1 live stream is free.
  • User-created playlists cannot be found by searching, only by direct-link.
  • There is no last.fm integration.

Spotify:

Pros:

  • Offline saving works dependably.
  • There are three choices of quality when on cellular networks.
  • The Discover Weekly personalized playlists are great.
  • The Release Radar personalized playlists are great.
  • There is web browser access.
  • There is a highly polished desktop app.
  • There is a free tier.
  • User created playlists can easily be found by using the search feature.
  • In-app Sonos integration.
  • Spotify Connect works with speakers other than Sonos as well, including the Amazon Echo.
  • Last.fm integration.
  • The Daily Mix playlists are updated every day. Here is how Spotify describes the Daily Mix feature.

Cons:

  • No Siri integration.
  • Dark mode is the only theme for all apps and web access.
  • If you have a billing question, you have to rely on questionable email and/or Twitter help.
  • Very limited access to song lyrics.

Both services:

  • have access to tens of millions of songs from various record labels.
  • have a radio option.
  • have iOS and Android apps.
  • have 9.99 individual plans, 4.99 student plans, and 14.99 family plans.
  • can be used through Sonos.
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