Apple Music vs Spotify — Who’s gonna win the streaming race?

There’s a lot of hustle and bustle in the streaming race today. Lucky for ya’ll, I’m the only person I know who willingly pays for both Apple Music and Spotify Premium. I’ve hand picked the topics of sound quality, pricing, content + library, and artist royalties and put the two services head to head to see which streaming service will come out on top.

Sound Quality

To put the two streaming giants against each other I’ve picked six records to listen to. I picked these records for their variety in genres and element of instruments used in each record. I’m listening to all of them with 10/16 volume on a JBL Flip 3 blue toothed to my Iphone se. I will be giving a review of each record the same way I was taught to review music in my music production course at Berklee School of Music. These are the songs I am listening to:

Red Hot Chili Peppers — Scar Tissue

System of a Down — Lost in Hollywood

Lana Del Rey — Born To Die

Travis Scott ft Kendrick Lamar — Goosebumps

Boombox Cartel — B2U

Party Pupils — Ms. Jackson

Let’s get to it and if you like certain songs more than others, feel free to pick and choose which reviews you read.

Scar Tissue (Apple Music): Overall the mix was very clean. The vocals were nice and clear. John’s guitar was crisp. Very warm feeling to the mix as well. And could feel the emotion in the solos.

Scar Tissue (Spotify): Overall the mix was not as bright or crisp as the Apple Music mix and seemed quieter. I feel as if the mix here is favored for Chad’s drums even in the solos. Everything seemed to blend with an accent on the drums.

Lost In Hollywood (Apple Music): Clean, warm, and in layers. I am starting to see trends with Apple Music mixes. I didn’t know there was a tambourine in the end of the song before hearing it on Apple Music. I feel this is a testament to their sound quality. I really liked the clearness of Daron’s voice and guitar.

Lost In Hollywood (Spotify): As with the Chili Pepper record I feel this mix is more of the drums. Also, I hear Serj (backing vocals) more vocal wise in this mix. Overall I thought it was a nice mix.

Born To Die (Apple Music): Lana is one of my favorite artist and I found this song 4 years ago. For the first time I feel as if I’m in the studio and can hear every layer one by one. The reverb is unreal and I can feel it in terms of the space and delay. The Apple mix on this gave me a new appreciation for this song.

Born To Die (Spotify): This mix I feel is leaning towards the vocals and I also feel that they have a filter on them that wasn’t in the Apple mix. One of the reasons I loved the layers of the Apple mix is that you can hear the electric cowbell ding in the verse in the chorus. I never knew that was there and didn’t hear it in this mix. Overall, the mix was like every other mix I have heard of this song and it was nice.

Goosebumps (Apple Music): As always, clean and warm. I feel like I can hear more deeply Travis’ range. For me I like my rap records to have a lot of bass and I feel like the bass wasn’t there for this one. I feel it was too focused on the vocals.

Goosebumps (Spotify): Even though the lossless isn’t there, I love this mix more. Here’s why, drums + bass. With trap music, that is essential and this mix nails that. Nice one Spotify.

B2U (Apple Music): This mix was perfect on every front except for one. The most important part, BASS. How am I supposed to to listen to bass music if the drop isn’t going to smack me in the face? Loved everything else, however. Clear and warm.

B2U (Spotify): Atta kid Spotify. With this mix I feel as if I’m at Space Yacht getting blasted by bass with my buddies. Really enjoyed this mix. Overall everything seemed to blend well with slapping bass.

Ms. Jackson (Apple Music): I’m going to be honest, reviewing the last couple songs involving electronic elements, I was really scared for Apple Music. However, with this future bass record you proved something. 10/10.

Ms. Jackson (Spotify): As always, with electronic elements Spotify does really well with the mix. I’m starting to believe this is Spotify’s niche.

Final Thoughts: Half way through this review, I was already thinking it was no contest. Apple Music by far had better sound quality. But once we hit the records with the electronic elements, I honestly feel that’s where Spotify starting to make it’s come back. Overall I give this one to Apple Music. But they still need more bass.


Apple Music: $9.99

Spotify: $9.99

Final Thoughts: Tie, duh.

Content + Library:

Apple Music: Apple’s big thing is their radio stations that are run by artist. To be honest with you, I’ve never really been into them. The only one I’ve used is OTHERtone by Pharrell. Apple Music also gives you the ability to download music videos which Spotify does not. They have a bunch of extra Ep’s that I couldn’t find on Spotify. For example, the Red Hot Chili Peppers whole discography is on there. This goes all the way down to the b-side Ep’s and etc.

Spotify: Playlist. That’s where I feel like Spotify is winning. People want to listen to what they want to listen to and not think about it. I am addicted to making and listening to Spotify playlists and it’s so easy. The main reason behind this I feel is Spotify’s UI. The playlist are easier to get to and not squished with all your music like with Apple Music. Also playlist like Discover Weekly break new music easier than radio stations like Beats 1.

Final Thoughts: Spotify is winning the race with playlist and that’s why Apple Music is number 2.

Artist Royalties:

Apple Music: I couldn’t find exact numbers down to the micro penny like Spotify but due to Apple Music not having a free tier they pay between $12 and $15 per 1,000 streams.

Spotify: I’m going to quote this from an article on

“In February 2017, a single ad-supported stream generated $0.00014123 on the streaming service. This means an artist would earn $100 in mechanical royalties after 703,581 streams.

For the premium tier during the same month, Spotify paid out $0.00066481 per stream in mechanicals. In this scenario, artists would earn $100 after 150,419 streams.

Final Thoughts: Dude, do you even math? Apple Music obviously wins.

Overall Final Thoughts: Right now, Spotify is “winning” in terms of paying users with 60 million to 27 million. However, I strongly believe this is due to what I was saying in “content + library” with the playlist. Apple Music’s UI just isn’t there. If Apple Music had the UI that Spotify had and made it a lot more fluid to search for artist/songs, had playlist breaking upcoming new artist/songs and could master the art of the playlist it isn’t even a competition. Apple Music needs to get rid of the radio. This isn’t the 20th century. The playlist is the new radio. Apple has the better sound quality and with what I said above + it’s artist royalties makes for the perfect streaming service. Who wins? In my honest opinion, I don’t believe either is “winning” or one is “better.” Apple wins with it’s sound quality and ability to pay artist better, but Spotify has mastered the art of music discovery and playlisting. If you want to listen to music you already love in the best quality possible, chose Apple Music. If you want to be a tastemaker and find what’s new and hot, Spotify is your streaming service.