Spotify vs. Apple Music: Who Will Win the Users?


Spotify is no doubt the undisputed king among online music streaming platforms today. It now has over 20 million paid subscribers and another 55 million users who listens to music for free (with ad support).

The Swedish-born company is now facing new challenge with Apple entering the fray under the banner Apple Music. However, despite the tech giant’s huge resources, the question remains as to how much it can compete with Spotify.

Apple Music is likely to be the biggest threat to Spotify considering what impressive lineups Apple has in its stable. Coming with a 24-hr format live radio headlined by none other than BBC-alum Zane Lowe, a personally curated playlists, in addition to accessing almost the entire iTunes catalog, Apple Music appears to pack its service with all the characteristics of a mega music streaming client. That’s why we are putting up Apple Music against Spotify to understand how this online streaming war might finally play out.

Spotify’s music catalog

Spotify music library

One key factor that puts Spotify at the top is that it could provide listeners with a mega collection of 30 million songs. In addition to this figure, it is also adding some 20,000 new songs daily. There may be some blanks in its library when it comes to Garth Brooks, The Beatles, Taylor Swift and Tool, Spotify listing is still the most comprehensive.

In addition, every Tuesday Spotify also provides all the latest record releases and exclusive live sessions via its New Releases page. This gives users an easy way to get the latest from well-established celebs and to find new and emerging singers.

Apple’s music library

Meanwhile, Apple Music is also reported to have about 30 million songs, almost the same as Spotify’s “more than 30 million” songs. Moreover, Apple Music could give its competitors a tough battle as it is being integrated with users’ iTunes libraries. All the music you have, it could be songs you previously purchased via iTunes Store, or those that you ripped from a physical CD, will now appear in Apple Music’s library. That means subscribers of Apple Music gets an option for freely browsing a combo of their own music, along with that of Apple’s exclusive catalog.

Apple Music iPhone screenshot

Spotify radio feature

Spotify is clearly behind its competitors in radio. There are some issues like in building station around a particular artist. Spotify do not offer its users the same creative discovery as the ones that you get from similar services like Pandora. For instance, picking artist Gary Clark Jr. would call up similar artists like The Black Keys and Eric Clapton, but there would be plenty of Gary Clark Jr.’s own music in that station.

While choosing a particular genre, Spotify radio offers wider selection of songs, though the platform most of the time tends to focus on run-of-the-mill music hits. For instance, the Jazz station sticks to the same range of 50 or 60 standards.

Even though Spotify’s radio provides features for an automatically curated songs which are worth listening, it is still yet to move far away from outside the conventional box.

Apple’s Beats radio

Apple launched its Beats 1 station which features a 24-hour live radio managed by popular DJ Zane Lowe. It is broadcast across more than 100 countries. Beats 1’s programs come from three main cities, which include Los Angeles, New York City, and London.

The success of Beats 1 is yet to be ascertained even though it has the potential to be a real hit. The programs feature exclusive artists’ interviews and talks about the best of world of music. Apple Music also has some expertly curated radio channels across various genres. But, how these stations would fare if compared to Spotify’s selections is yet to be examined.

Discover new music

Spotify’s 30 million+ songs library is a powerhouse and users can easily find most songs they want to listen. But, beyond that figure, Spotify offers its users a very limited chance of finding songs through its radio function. Luckily, they have their playlist feature that is arguably the best chance for users to latch on to fresh music. Spotify’s 32 base genres besides the 20-30 selectable playlists is also hard to beat.

Spotify also permits its users to create, share and follow any playlists, including the ones shared by friends, with just a simple click, in addition to the expertly curated playlists.

Besides its mega library, Spotify’s varied content is appealing to all sections. Users don’t feel that they are being served stale or used up content.

Apple Music For You section

Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio promises listeners some of the freshly released and finest tracks in the music industry. The Siri voice command has also been integrated via iPhones to allow subscribers to simply use voice input to search something like “What was the #1 song in 1999.” The privately curated playlists from “For You” section also come with three updates on a daily basis.

Spotify’s “expertly-curated” playlists are cool, but Apple Music’s selections by individual DJs are refreshing. We just hope Apple Music lives up to its hype.

Subscription price

Apple Music costs $10 per month, which is the same fee charged by Spotify Premium, Tidal Premium and Rdio. Apple Music is more appealing as it has a special family pack offer which gives buyers the ability to connect up to six individual accounts for just $15 per month.

Apple may hook in majority of Spotify’s users as it is offering three months of free trial. But, the problem with Apple Music is that it does not offer a free, ad-based, music streaming like Spotify. It is important to note that as many as 55 million people use Spotify because it is free (ad supported). And for its premium subscribers, Spotify has come up with plans to take on Apple’s family plan.

Apple Music free 3 months trial

User interface

Spotify has an extremely friendly user interface for both mobile and desktop users. They can easily browse music, access the playlists and listen to radio. The navigating bar divided into three sections – Main, Your Music and Playlists – is super easy to use. Its search feature is similar to Google Search and quickly predicts what users are looking for. On this front, Spotify is top over its competitors.

The first impression of Apple Music is also pretty good, though. Its menu is easy to pick up and use. Setting up an account is also very easy. There are five buttons for users to navigate the service: For You, Radio, New, My Music and Connect. They give users all the tools they required for listening latest music, access iTunes content, and also listen to Beats 1 radio.

Taking this all in all, Apple has some really unique features which could pose a challenge to Spotify’s cool app.

Social options

Spotify allows users to follow their friends, get notice of what their friends are listening to, who they follow, besides giving them the power to share or recommend the playlists. It also permits users to publish their music listening history to Facebook, thereby allowing their FB friends to ether like or comment.

Spotify social options

Spotify’s social platform is solid, but it would be nice to see the company coming up with more features to connect people to their friends and singers and bands they like to listen to.

On the other hand, Apple Music has the company’s own Connect feature, which brings artists and their fans closer than ever before. It serves as an all-access pass for users’ favorite bands. You can get exclusive backstage photos or early video cuts besides other information.

Apple Music Connect

Apple also offers its users the ability to post a comment, like, or share messages of artists. Likewise, the artists also have the opportunity to respond to their fans. Additionally, these posts could be shared via Facebook and Twitter.

Even though a friend-to-friend social feature is still relatively bare in Apple Music, we found that its Connect feature is the most unique thing user have ever seen in the industry. It is truly one of the most engaging aspects of any service, and it should help Apple Music stand apart from competition.