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Music to Your Ears: Is Apple Music or Spotify the Better Streaming Service?

The Music You Want, All the Time

Apple Music and Spotify are two of the most popular music streaming services. As of January 2018, Spotify had 70 million subscribers, up from 30 million in 2016, and is projected to hit 180 million by the end of 2018.

Apple music, on the other hand, has over 30 million paying customers. Here are some comparisons between the two giant streaming services.

Apple Music Pros


Apple Music has a blank white background that does not interfere with albums. It is much faster to navigate and blends well with the iOS ecosystem. The interface blends well with the iTunes music library.

Library of Songs

Apple has one of the best selection of songs among all music streaming apps. Subscribers have access to over 45 million songs cutting ranging across different genres. Access your favorite music playlists and enjoy your favorite podcasts. Apple Music works directly with some artists (like Taylor Swift) to stream their albums exclusively.


There are three tiers of monthly pricing for subscribers: $9.99 USD for one user, $14.99 USD for a family plan (up to six users) and $4.99 USD for students. There is a three month free trial period for all plans. A yearly subscription for one user costs $99.99 USD, saving you over two months in subscription fees.


Apple Music provides users access to Siri which integrates well with both iPads and iPhones. Give Siri a command like “play something I might love" and Siri will instantly generate a playlist based off the music you have "loved" in the past. Apple Music does have an offline listening feature that allows users to enjoy their favorite music when they are on the go.

Subscribers on Apple Music can view song lyrics without having to use a third party app.

Social Connections

Apple Music allows users to share playlists and view what their friends and family are playing.

Apple Music Cons


Apple Music has no free tier. After the trial period is over, users have to pay to access their music. Beats 1 Radio is free, but you’ll have to listen to some ads.


Apple Music streams music at 256kbps and uses the AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) format. Conversely, Spotify Premium provides 320kpbs in Ogg Vorbis. Not many users may notice the difference on normal headphones or music systems, but audiophiles will be able to tell the difference.

Glitchy Offline Saving

Apple encrypts all downloaded songs with Apple FariPlay DRM, which has some restrictions. Once you cancel your subscription you cannot keep your downloaded songs. To access your music, you must first sign in with your Apple ID.

Spotify Pros


Spotify has two tiers — one is free and the other is premium, which costs $10.00 USD per month for single users with a 50% discount for students. The premium version has a one month free trial. In addition, the free version of Spotify features some ads.


Spotify has a huge collection of songs with over 30 million tracks. Since Spotify has a huge base of users, it is easier to refine results. Spotify is popular with up-and-coming artists who are able to market and promote new music.

Streaming Avenues

Spotify users can access the service on a highly developed desktop app for Windows and Mac that allows subscribers to sync playlists with existing audio devices. Spotify has great keyboard controls that make it easy to control the music. Through the Spotify app, users can link their phones to game consoles like PS4 and Xbox, making it easy to play songs during gameplay.

Playlist Features

Subscribers can create personalized playlists. Subscribers can also access Discover Weekly and Release Radar playlists that give users up to 30 new tracks to listen to.

Audio Quality

Spotify streams at 160 kb/s by default, but you can increase the bitrate to 320 for higher quality audio.


Spotify has a friendly user interface for both Android and iOS operating systems. For users who prefer streaming sticks, streaming on Spotify is available through Google Chromecast. Spotify works well with smart wireless speakers like Sono.

Web Browser Access

Subscribers can access Spotify through popular browsers like Chrome, Safari and Mozilla.

Spotify Cons


Spotify is not available in most African and Asian countries, which limits international travelers who visit these regions.

No Radio Integration

Unlike Apple Music, Spotify does not have radio integration.

What Should You Consider Before Getting One or the Other?


This is the most important consideration in choosing any streaming service. Spotify and Apple Music have millions of songs in their libraries but there are some gaps. Spotify has more popular music with up-and-coming artists preferring it. Apple has more exclusive content. It makes sense to try the free trials before committing.


When choosing between Spotify and Apple Music consider the fees involved. Spotify is the obvious choice with the free tier plan. However both premium versions cost almost the same with Apple having more plan options for family and students.

Streaming Options

Almost all music streaming services are available on mobile apps like iOS and Android. But some like Apple Music have no access through a web browser.


Spotify is location dependent with focus on America and Europe. Apple Music has a more worldwide reach and subscribers can enjoy the service from many regions in the world.