Apple Music vs Spotify: Which Music Streaming Should You Choose?

Apple Music and Spotify logos, side-by-side.

The music-on-demand competition has never been as fierce as it is today. With hundreds of music streaming platforms claiming to be the best, it’s pretty hard to sort which meets your taste and your need. Out of the hundreds of competing platforms, there are these two constant standouts Apple Music and Spotify.

But, in a competitive market like music streaming, there can only be one king. In this article, we weigh the best choice between Apple Music vs Spotify. We will review all the essential features you need to know before you decide which service you’ll subscribe to. From the subscription fees and music library down to audio quality and music discovery, we got them all covered.

Before we proceed to the meat of this article, let us first have a short backgrounder of music streaming services in the feud.


Apple Music vs Spotify Highlights

Spotify Music Streaming Overview

How to download music from Spotify
Photo by MIH83 via Pixabay

Spotify tirelessly claims to be the best music streaming service there is. Launched in 2008, it offers millions of DRM-protected tracks, podcasts, and videos as the latest addition. As of writing, Spotify already has over 248 million monthly active users from Europe, the Americas, Australia, Asia, and other parts of Africa. Over 113 million of those are premium subscribers, making Spotify the first music streaming platform to reach a 100 million paid user base.


Apple Music Overview

Apple Music's official logo
Photo from apple.com

Apple Music is poised to challenge Spotify. Almost a decade younger than Spotify, Apple launched the service in 2015 as their own take on the growing competition for on-demand tunes. From strictly a music streaming platform, it only took a year before Apple Music added a video functionality for the service. In June 2019, Apple reported that the service has already reached 60 million marks of the paid user base. The fact that the service did it in just a matter of five years shows Apple Music as the fastest growing music streaming platform in the market today.


Apple Music vs Spotify: Subscription Bundles


Features Spotify Apple Music
Individual Student Family Individual Student Family
Subscription Fee $9.99/month $4.99/month $15.99/month $9.99/month $4.99/month $14.99/month
Accounts 1 Account 1 Account 6 Accounts 1 Account 1 Account 6 Accounts
Videos on demand None Yes None None Yes None


Distinguishing what’s best between Apple Music vs Spotify in terms of subscription bundles is pretty difficult as they have very similar offerings. Both have three paid plans which include Individual, Student, and Family subscriptions. Not only do they offer the same bundles, but they also offer them at almost the same prices.

However, there is a thin line that sets the two apart that is the videos on demand. Spotify Premium Student Account holders can unlimitedly access ad-supported Hulu and Showtime shows. Spotify’s Hulu and Showtime deal was initially available for Individual Premium as well. Unfortunately, it then became exclusive to Spotify Student Accounts. Some of the shows you can watch from Hulu are Looking for Alaska, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Bob’s Burgers. From Showtime, you can watch Shameless, Black Monday, The Chi, and more.

On the other hand, Apple Music Student Account holders can also access shows through Apple TV+ but for a limited time. Using the Apple TV app, Student Account users will be able to watch original shows, movies, and documentaries at no added fee.


How to Activate Hulu and Showtime with Spotify Student Plan

To start watching shows from Hulu using your Spotify Student Plan, you first need to activate Hulu on your account. Just go to Account Page>Account Overview>Activate Hulu. After the activation, you can log into Hulu using the credentials provided by Spotify.

Activating your Showtime account using Spotify Student Plan also works the same way as how you do it with Hulu. Just go to Account Page>Account Overview>Activate Showtime. You can also go straight to www.showtime.com/spotify to activate and link your Showtime account to Spotify Premium for Students.


How to Activate Apple TV+ with Apple Music Student Plan

Once you enroll for Apple Music Student, you can automatically watch Apple Originals through the Apple TV app. Just log in with the Apple ID you used for your Apple Music account and you are set to stream videos on-demand.


Apple Music vs Spotify: Music Library

Music Library on iPhone
Photo by Hilthart Pedersen on Unsplash

The music library is a great factor in choosing a music streaming platform. People pay for the service to access a huge collection of songs that the local files cannot accommodate. In terms of music library size, Apple Music and Spotify hold the largest number of tracks on a single platform.

Spotify initially has the largest collection of tracks. By the time Apple Music was launched, Spotify already had more than 30 million songs on its platform. Five years later, there are now 50 million tracks you can stream and download from Spotify. That’s at least 10,000 tracks added per day. This sounds impressive, but not for Apple Music.

In just five years, Apple Music was able to surpass the music library of Spotify. It started with 30 million tracks in 2015. Fast-forward to today, Apple Music holds more than 60 million songs on its platform. It has taken steps to distinguish itself from competitors by signing exclusive artists. Taylor Swift was among the first artists to make an exclusive deal with Apple Music when she released her 1989 album. Although she eventually held back her album from the platform, it still grabbed a chunk of the paid user base for Apple Music. Not even Amazon Music, another music streaming service giant, was able to keep up the influx of Apple Music subscribers.


Apple Music vs Spotify: Song Catalog Value

In a catalog of 50 million songs or so, it’s a bit challenging to discover the music that fits your personality. The good thing is most music streaming platforms implement a discovery functionality that tracks music you might like. Spotify, for instance, has a feature they call “Discover Quickly.” This brings up a two-hour weekly playlist curated based on the genre and artists you listen to the most. That aside, Daily Mixes are constantly added to your suggestions. Spotify also has the Release Radar that gives you the newest releases that are currently making noises on the charts.

Apple Music won’t allow its music to drown over Spotify. In terms of music discovery, it has the “For You” section that recommends tracks according to your previous listening habits. It takes note of your searches, the music you like, and the music you add to your library then gives you suggestions to improve the music you get. It also has the “New” section which, similar to Spotify’s Release Radar, gives you new tracks in a single playlist.

Although Apple has a great music discovery functionality, Spotify never ceases to provide subscribers with fresh music they will like. Discover Weekly playlist is impressively personalized which all subscribers can look forward to every start of the week.


Apple Music vs Spotify: Audio Quality and Data Consumption

Music Streaming Platform Apple Music Spotify
Highest Audio Quality 256kbps AAC 320kbps Ogg Vorbis
Data Consumption 1.8 MB 2.4 MB

Spotify streams at 96kbps by default, but users can adjust it to 320kbps for the highest quality. Meanwhile, Apple Music sets its highest audio quality at 256kbps which seems lower compared to Spotify. However, we shouldn’t take it at face value as they stream in different formats. Apple streams in AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) format while Spotify adopts the Ogg Vorbis as its streaming format. The difference between the two is indistinguishable for a normal ear, but for people who take sound quality seriously, those little differences can be a deciding factor in choosing who wins between Apple Music vs Spotify.

Both AAC and Ogg Vorbis are audio coding standards for lossy digital audio compression that produce better sounds than MP3. AAC is an ideal format for streaming as it gives better quality than Ogg Vorbis at the same bit rate. Using Spotify, you’d likely be consuming 7.2 MB of data for a three-minute song. But with Apple Music, you’d only be consuming an average of 5.4 MB for almost the same quality.


Apple Music vs Spotify: Download and Offline Playback

If there’s one major reason for subscribing to a music streaming service, that is the ability to download and the offline playback functionality. But do you honestly know how many songs you can download from Apple Music and Spotify? We bet not.

Subscribers can download from Apple Music on 10 devices without an actual limit. On the other hand, Spotify allows subscribers to download music for offline playback on up to five devices with a 10,000 limit which we doubt anyone would reach. Aside from there’s hardly a device that stores such large files, you also wouldn’t want your music downloads to eat up so much of your storage space. Nonetheless, Apple Music and Spotify both have great Offline Playback functionality. That’s why for this round, we will consider it a split.

Note: Downloads from Spotify and Apple Music are stored with the respective app and cannot be transferred on local files. You can use other software to save tracks from music streaming platforms, instead. You can read our guide on how to download music from Youtube to iTunes.


Apple Music vs Spotify: Voice Assistant Compatibility

Black portable speaker with four buttons on top.
Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash

Voice commands were once just a part of sci-fi movies we see on the big screens. Today, this technology is already part of the norm with the integration of voice assistants in our devices to perform simple tasks like playing music. Apple Music works seamlessly with Siri as its default voice assistant. However, it is also compatible with other virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant.

Spotify has the leg up on this round for its wide compatibility with voice command functions. Aside from Spotify Voice, the app also works with Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Bixby. By simply saying “play my favorite song,” you can now enjoy your music on Spotify, hands-free.


Apple Music vs Spotify: The Verdict

The choice between Apple Music vs Spotify depends on your preference. Both of them are great options to put your money. If you want to discover new music and prefer a brilliantly fresh playlist, then Spotify is unquestionably the perfect pick for you. Its curated music is seamless and offers well-balanced tracks across all genres. Its interface is also accessible and easy to use. Above all, Spotify is free for those who don’t want to commit.

On the other hand, Apple Music is a great choice too. Its catalog of music is impressive with some exclusive tracks you can’t find anywhere else. Spotify might be the most recognizable name in the field of music streaming, but Apple Music poses a tight competition. Within a short period, it was able to get on a par with Spotify. We don’t know what the future holds for this battle, but time can only tell who will surpass the other and who will cave in.

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