Battle of streaming services: Apple Music vs. Spotify

Teens today are at a crossroads. We have been asked to make a decision that has caused a rise in global stress levels and a multitude of arguments on Twitter: Apple Music vs Spotify.

In June of 2015, Apple came out with a new and redesigned edition of Apple Music, one mirroring the streaming network of Spotify. After the original conference presentation of the idea, the CEO and founder of Spotify simply responded with a passive tweet of “Oh, ok.” This indicated the beginning of a major battle for users and has many people weighing the benefits of each music program in an attempt to make a decision.  

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Freshman Ben King shares his reaction to hearing the story of Spotify’s answer toward the new Apple Music. “I think the new Apple Music was expected and so was Spotify’s reaction because there are going to be a lot of Spotify users who will now question whether Apple Music is the better choice.”

Song selection

Spotify has announced that their library holds about 30 million songs, from both big and small name artists. Although Apple Music is said to hold the same number, one area where they stand above Spotify is their deals with artists that Spotify doesn’t have access to.

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The most well known of these artists is Taylor Swift, who has made a public statement of pulling her music from Spotify after advocating the unfair wages administered. All five of her studio albums are available for streaming on the new Apple Music. Many Spotify fans voiced their complaints about Taylor Swift, saying she had an exaggerated response to Spotify not paying full wages for her music.

Junior Rosie Hogan, a Taylor Swift devotee, shares her opinion. “Personally, I don’t think she overreacted at all. The reason she pulled her stuff from Spotify is because she feels that art is worth something. Often, when their music is being streamed they aren’t getting a penny. So I applaud and respect her for using her platform to give struggling artists who are often exploited by streaming a voice.”

Apple Music has the leverage in song selection, since it is able to assure that the artists are paid the right amount of music. Taylor Swift is just one example of the many artists who decided to stay strictly with Apple Music over Spotify due to its reliance in wage. Although the amount that the artist is getting paid doesn’t make that big of a difference for the listeners, they can have a more popular, wider variety of options on Apple Music.

Prices

Comparing the prices of the two will sadly not help too much when deciding which to commit to, since both of them charge $10 USD per month for most users. Spotify offers a free version that most people tend to choose, which allows the streaming but with ads.

One area in which Apple can be seen as the better choice is the family account that they offer. For $15 USD, listeners can purchase the family account that lets up to six users use the same account. Although Spotify offers a similar feature in which each new user signed under the same account receives it half off, the price is amounts to considerably higher, at $22.50 USD for two users. Spotify offers a major feature that definitely benefits the teen/young adult generation. If you are a student, premium is offered at only $5 a month.

Alum Lisa Hussey shares the benefits of having Spotify Premium as a student. “I use Spotify Premium because of its reliability and price. As a freshman in college, I need to make sure the money I’m spending is put to good use. At $5 a month, you have access to all the music in the world, which I think is awesome.”

Spotify would have to take the win on the price end from a student’s perspective and from anyone who isn’t bothered by the 30 second ads. But if you like a continuous flow of music and don’t mind the extra cash, Apple Music would be on your side. 

An iPhone using Spotify next to an iPhone using Apple Music. Photo taken by Yana Mihova.
An iPhone using Spotify next to an iPhone using Apple Music. Photo by Yana Mihova

Playlists

One big point to consider when choosing streaming service is the playlist selection on each. Spotify has over 1.5 billion playlists to offer created by both the users and the editors. They are sorted into categories based on genres and activities such as workout, sleep, and rock.

The playlists have anywhere from 15 to over 100 songs and are chosen by Spotify’s top editors as well as regular Spotify users. Apple Music has a fair amount of playlists for a music group that’s just starting out, but their playlists lack quantity, with an average of 20 songs. Apple Music does offer playlists created by top magazines such as Rolling Stone, presenting the upper-hand of having a more elite take.

Sophomore Ryan Payne gives his insight as a frequent user of both Apple Music and Spotify. “Apple music appeals to me as being more user-friendly. When you start (using) Apple Music, they ask you to fill out your favorite bands and genres so, unlike Spotify, it does a better job of recommending good music to you. But I would say Spotify’s best feature is their browse section, since it has such a wide range of playlists fit for all types of genres and moods.”

Social

Arguably, Spotify’s greatest advantage that sets it apart from Apple Music is its social ability. Spotify provides a sidebar that shows what the people you follow are listening to as well as allowing you to follow their playlists and receive notifications whenever they are updated. Spotify links through Facebook, so you have the ability to find friends, and it even publishes the music you listen to on Facebook. It also shares certain songs and artists with friends through Spotify messaging. If you want to share music through Apple Music, the only way to do so is through email or text.

Senior and frequent Spotify user Ishaan Madan shared his opinion. “I definitely take advantage of the connection platform on Spotify. I think ‘radio’ is dead for our generation, so a lot of the music we’re acquiring and listening to is stuff we hear at parties or from our friends and Spotify makes it so easy to share music between people.”

A student holding up an iPhone with Apple Music radio stations. Photo taken by Yana Mihova.
A student holding up an iPhone with Apple Music radio stations. Photo by Yana Mihova

Radio

Both streaming services offer a radio station, each with different features. With the use of Spotify Radio Station, you can get a personalized mix based off of the song you are listening to. The station often gets criticized for having repeated tracks played often and no variety in the music. Apple Music, on the other hand, has a more high-tech algorithm resulting in much more variety in the music played. Apple Music also offers the radio stations of NPR and ESPN.

Sophomore Collin Gunn said Apple Music has proved more useful to him. “With Apple Music, I can listen to games on ESPN. Spotify doesn’t have a feature like that so I would say Apple Music is better in the sense of radio stations.”

Which do you choose?

As of September, it is still a little too early to make the call on which program is “better” since Apple Music emerged into the world less than five months ago, and comparing the two doesn’t result in a solid consensus. Apple Music has been said to be the service for someone who likes music and Spotify for the individual who loves music, since it does a better job of forming a community of music-listening friends. Spotify has been around for a long time, though, and it has come a long way since 2006, so it would only be fair to cut Apple Music some slack.

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