Apple Music vs. Amazon Music Unlimited

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Mar 7, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple Music has become immensely popular since it launched in 2015, and now has over 56 million subscribers worldwide. So how does it stack up against ecommerce giant Amazon's rival premium streaming service in terms of features, music catalog, and cost? Keep reading to find out.


    Amazon actually has two music services, so before we go any further it's worth explaining the difference. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you already have access to Amazon Prime Music, as it's bundled in with the service. In fact, Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited are similar in many ways, so if you are a Prime member and you're interested in Amazon's standalone streaming service then it's worth getting to know Prime Music first.

    Both services share the same interface and apps, and offer similar features like the ability to download songs, albums and playlists for offline listening. The main difference between the two offerings is the number of songs you have access to. Amazon Prime Music has two million songs in its catalog, but paying the extra for Amazon Music Unlimited gets you access to 50 million songs, including the majority of new releases.

    Subscriptions and Plans

    An individual Apple Music subscription costs $9.99 per month in the United States, with slight price variations in other countries and territories. Membership means you can stream Apple's music catalog, download music and videos for offline listening, and get access to new releases and exclusives, as well as a back catalog of shows broadcast on Apple's Beats 1 radio station.

    The price you pay for an individual Amazon Music Unlimited subscription depends. If you're already an Amazon Prime member the streaming music service costs an additional $7.99 per month (or $79 per year). For Prime members who own an Amazon Echo, it's $3.99 per month, but the subscription is tied to just a single device. For everyone else, it's $9.99 per month, which is the same as Apple Music. A subscription gets you ad-free access to Amazon's 50-million song music catalog with offline listening and unlimited skips.


    Both Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited offer student subscription plans priced at $4.99 per month and both require you to sign up using your educational institution credentials. Both streaming services also offer a family plan costing $14.99 a month which allows up to six people to access the services using a personal account for each family member. Apple Music members can also share iTunes purchases with each other in addition to music catalog content, but all family members are required to use the same credit card for all App Store purchases as part of Apple's Family Sharing program.

    Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited memberships automatically renew each month, but you can cancel renewal at any time and your subscription will last until the end of your current billing cycle.

    Free Trials

    Apple Music offers a free three-month trial of its paid service, which converts to a paid membership unless the user cancels before the trial period is over.


    Amazon also offers a free trial for its paid music service, but it only lasts 30 days before billing begins.

    Libraries and Offline Listening

    The Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited plans give you access to a huge catalog of content when you sign up. Both services boast catalogs with 50 million songs, but Apple goes the extra mile to secure artist exclusives including new releases, live performances and concert videos.

    Apple Music users can download a maximum of 100,000 songs to their library, and thanks to Apple's iCloud Music Library feature these can be synced across any devices signed in to the same Apple ID. Amazon Music Unlimited users also have a 100,000 song upper limit on their library downloads, but these are accessible across a maximum of 10 devices.

    Streaming Quality

    Apple Music streams 256kbps AAC files across the board. Amazon hasn't revealed the bitrate of its library, but the general consensus is that its user audio quality options (low/medium/high) range from 48 Kbps up to and 320 Kbps.

    Apart from audiophiles, most listeners probably won't notice much difference between highest-quality streams of the same song, but Amazon Music's option to select the bitrate can come in handy if you're worried about using up your cellular data.

    Mobile, Desktop, and Web Apps

    The Apple Music catalog is accessed within the Music app, which has a clean white interface and comes pre-installed on every iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and is available as a separate downloadable app on Android devices.


    The app is organized into tabs to access your music library, browse the Apple Music catalog, and listen to radio stations, while a For You tab lets you check out suggestions based on your listening preferences.

    Amazon's Music app has a contrasting black interface and is also available on both iOS and Android. The Browse section is organized by category and showcases new releases, popular playlists, and song and artist recommendations, while the Recents tab displays music you've recently accessed and My Music is the home of your saved music, organized by category (Playlists, Artists, Albums, Songs, and Genres).

    Any music you may have purchased from Amazon on other devices is also automatically available here. Tapping the Alexa icon lets you ask the assistant to play music, pause, play the next or previous song and many other options, while a Search icon also lives at the top right of the screen and in the navigation menu at the bottom to find music to listen to.


    Apple Music uses iCloud Music Library to match any existing music you have in your iTunes library to tracks in the Apple Music catalog, which are then made available on your other devices. Amazon Music also includes a matching service in its PC and Mac apps, but the feature isn't as seamless as Apple's. Amazon used to offer an equivalent music upload service to Amazon Music Storage subscribers, but as of April 2018 the plans are no longer extendable and the storage service is being retired.

    Both apps are easy to navigate and include fullscreen media players that showcase album art as you listen. These screens also put add-to-playlist, sharing, song queuing, lyric viewing, and audio device options at your fingertips, with Apple Music having the advantage of 3D Touch support on compatible devices, which can be used to quickly access additional options.

    On desktop, Apple Music subscribers can access the service through the iTunes app for Mac and PC. Apple Music in iTunes is largely based on the same format as the mobile app, but it's not quite as pretty. It's also a little less navigable, but it does have Smart Playlists. Smart Playlists can be automatically generated by iTunes based on genre, date added, loved/disliked, and so on, meaning you don't have to manually build playlists yourself if you don't want to.


    Amazon also offers desktop Music apps for Mac and PC that let you browse the catalog, access your library, and download songs, but the interfaces are terribly basic and the presentation is uninspired by comparison. The Amazon Music web player is no better, but at least the company offers one - Apple Music still lacks an equivalent, but subscribers can use a free third-party web player called Musish.

    Discovery Features

    When you sign up for Apple Music, Apple asks you to select some of your favorite artists so that the service can get a sense of your tastes. Using this information, Apple Music populates its regularly updated For You section with new releases, daily mixes and playlists to appeal to your preferences. Playlists can take on a style (pop or jazz, for example), a particular artist, or even a particular activity like studying.


    Amazon Music's Home screen is where the service's personalization is centered, but it's minimal at best and the playlists and albums "for You" don't feel very targeted. Things improve a little after you've added some music to your library, listened to some radio stations, and liked/disliked a bunch of songs, but the suggestion accuracy isn't on par with Apple Music's curation, and the algorithms Amazon uses leaves a lot to be desired. Probably the best alternative in this regard is to make sufficient use of the "Customers Also Listened To" button in the media player interface, but it's the same option you'll find on Amazon's online web store and hardly a unique feature befitting a premium streaming service.

    Apple Music's non-personalized content lives in a separate Browse tab showcasing trending artists and playlists, top charts, and music videos. Browse is also home to a TV and films section that features Apple-made programming like Carpool Karaoke and artist documentaries.


    Apple Music's Radio tab features curated music stations tuned to your listening habits as well as Apple's Beats 1 radio station. Beats 1 offers live radio 24 hours a day, and also plays a big part in the platform's music discovery. The Radio tab also has an archive of its most popular radio shows and playlists from years past. Amazon Music's default radio station offering pales by comparison, and unlike Apple Music it doesn't let you you create a station from a song, album, artist, or playlist.

    Music Sharing

    Apple Music allows you to follow friends who are also subscribers and share playlists with them that you've personally created. Apple Music's For You tab will also show you what your friends are listening to if you've connected to them. Amazon Music Unlimited has no such features, but it does let you share song links via text or over social media.

    Speakers and Voice Assistants

    As an Apple Music subscriber, you can use Apple's Siri voice assistant on your iOS devices as a personal DJ to control song playback, queue up songs, find song facts, add songs to your library, play your favorite playlists, or even play something new. Getting Amazon Music to work with Siri requires the use of Siri Shortcuts, and even then it isn't guaranteed to work and it lacks many Siri skills exclusive to Apple Music.


    If you own any of Amazon's Echo speakers or an Amazon Fire TV, then you can tap into the company's Alexa voice assistant, which offers many similar DJ skills as Siri does for Apple Music. All Amazon Music Unlimited subscription plans work on Amazon Echo and Fire TV devices. In the U.S. at least, Apple Music can also be set up to stream on Amazon Echo devices, but it's not as seamless and you won't get said Alexa skills.


    On the other hand, Apple's HomePod speaker is made to be used in conjunction with Apple Music. In fact, one of the main uses for Siri on HomePod is to control your Apple Music collection. There are Siri voice commands for accessing content like playlists, genres, moods, liking or disliking songs, playing more music based on something you've heard, starting a new radio station, and much more. None of these functions will work with an Amazon Music subscription - you can stream audio to HomePod from a device running the Amazon Music app, but that's it.

    Listening in the Car

    Apple's CarPlay system supports Amazon Music and, of course, Apple Music. If a car doesn't have CarPlay, most newer models have their own entertainment systems, which often make it easy to connect your chosen streaming service. Usually you can do so either direct from a built-in app, over Bluetooth, or via a cable connection. You can also listen to Apple Music and Amazon Music through your phone's or car's speakers with Android Auto.

    Apple Music highlights
    [*]Seamless integration with Apple's eco-system
    [*]Beats live radio and archive
    [*]Human curated recommendations
    [*]Social features
    [*]Support for uploading/matching your own music files
    [*]Works natively with HomePodAmazon Music Unlimited highlights
    [*]Echo speaker integration
    [*]Official web player
    Large music catalogSumming Up

    Amazon Music Unlimited is a decent service on its own, but when compared to Apple Music, its shortcomings become glaring. In terms of interface and apps, Apple Music is far easier on the eye than Amazon Music Unlimited, and Apple's music curation and personalization efforts easily outshine its rival. In addition, Apple Music offers subscribers better social features and far more content, including radio shows, exclusive artist releases, live video performances and concerts.

    Of course, let's not forget Amazon Prime Music, which is available to all Prime members at no extra cost. If you just want access to some tunes to help pass the time, it could be an ideal choice. But if you're looking for a dedicated premium streaming service, Apple Music is the one to shoot for.

    Article Link: Apple Music vs. Amazon Music Unlimited
  2. chublet macrumors member

    Feb 10, 2018
    with plex i can listen to all my music from my Mac on my echo, but i can’t link apple music to it, nice one apple
  3. sgtaylor5 macrumors regular


    Aug 6, 2017
    Cheney, WA, USA
    I picked Amazon Music. Tried Apple Music for a month. When I set Apple Music up, I indicated that I liked Classical and Jazz with the biggest circles and Rock with a smaller circle. Darned if Apple Music would only give me Rock playlists. Goodbye!
  4. JRobinsonJr macrumors 6502a

    Aug 20, 2015
    Arlington, Texas
    I’ve tried both services, and while they each have some strong positives, I ended up with Amazon for two reasons.

    1. My family listens primarily to Country music, and Amazon tends to have a better selection. In particular, you can’t get Garth Brooks on Apple.

    2. We have invested in Echo devices, so it just made sense. Sure, NOW we can access Apple Music on them, but at the time I made my selection that wasn’t an option.
  5. thasan macrumors 65816

    Oct 19, 2007
    The reason I detest amazon services is because when you search for a music to listen, it may show that it’s available in music unlimited. I understand the concept but Netflix like experience is much better. Single tier. No BS purchasing option. Everyone is equal once they pay a single fee
  6. AllergyDoc macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2013
    Utah, USA
    We also settled on Amazon Unlimited. A couple of bucks cheaper and I liked it's suggested playlists. We tried Apple Music for the free period. I like it's integration into iOS better but I like Amazon's app layout better. We stream to JBL Flip 4 speakers that we can set up in stereo.
  7. cprdfr macrumors newbie


    Mar 7, 2019
    I actually have had Spotify, Tidal; (nightmare), Apple Music, & Amazon Unlimited
    Stuck with Amazon, because (A), we have Prime, & (B), I truly believe that the Dynamic Range, & sound quality, is BETTER than Apple Music
    Only drawback, is that you can't add your own CD music to the mix
    Amazon previously, let you keep 250 songs FREE in the Cloud; no more
    I still use Apple Itunes, for my CD music, that Amazon doesn't have
    Anyway, Amazon Unlimited, is my #1 choice!
  8. cocky jeremy macrumors 601

    cocky jeremy

    Jul 12, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    I've tried Apple Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Amazon, and others.

    To me, Amazon Unlimited is easily the best. I love the iOS app and the desktop apps for Mac (home) and PC (work).
  9. autumnpatchouli macrumors member


    Oct 21, 2014
    Central USA
    We tried both Apple and Amazon music offerings. Amazon won for a couple of reasons. We get lots of Amazon gift cards as gifts, so we always have a decent balance, which pays for our music. We like New Age, classical, and World music, and it seems Amazon has a greater selection in that area. Or perhaps they are better at suggesting that kind of music. A previous poster noted that they enjoy country music, but Apple pushed rock. We had the same experience.

    We also have several Echo devices. The Home Pod price is ridiculous, so it just made the decision that much easier. I don’t mind paying more for iPhones and Macs (although that’s getting a bit dicier), but that Home Pod was not worth 3X’s the cost of an Echo.
  10. decypher44 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 24, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    I tried Apple Music. Hated it. I’ve been an Amazon Unlimited customer for quite a while now. One of the things I like is accessing the service easily with my Echo (without a need for my phone or anything). And the best thing I like is that Amazon Music has a channel app for Roku. I use it there so it plays through my home theater setup. Daaaaang, it sounds amazing!!!
  11. Napalm Doctor macrumors member

    Napalm Doctor

    Oct 16, 2015
    Here in the Great White North, Amazon Music is horrible compared to Apple Music.

    I have tried Amazon Music, Deezer, SoundCloud, Spotify, Groove,YouTube Music, Tidal and Apple Music. My favourite was Spotify for a long time till Apple Music came out. I find that there is a couple features that if you are in the Apple’s ecosystem make Apple Music way better.
  12. adamdport macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2011
    So if I buy an echo and just shove it in the closet, can I get music unlimited on my iPhone as a single device for $3.99/mo?
  13. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    We have the Apple Music Family plan and I just bought an Amazon Echo Spot. The Spot plays my Apple music fine, but doesn't support viewing the lyrics, whereas using Amazon Unlimited would.

    A couple of months back I tried to convince my daughter that we should get rid of Apple Music and switch to Google/YouTube offering, because I was already paying for YouTube's thing (whatever it's called) to be able to watch the Karate Kid series, and I never bothered to cancel it after the season ended, and it includes music. She was very much against the idea because she apparently has a huge downloaded library of music for offline listening.

    I've had some fun the last couple of days asking my Echo Spot to play various music from Apple Music, but it doesn't always get my request right, and I haven't learned yet if there are more exact ways to nail down what you're asking for.
  14. TechGuy327 macrumors member


    Dec 15, 2014
    I went with Amazon Music primarily because Apple Music kept altering my music library and because some songs would not upload. iTunes would mark them as a duplicate (light greyed out cloud icon would appear by song title) and they would not upload to the cloud to be on my iPhone. Since I could not sync music directly from iTunes to my iPhone I was no longer able to listen to it. Music I have purchased I use iTunes and the Music App for and streaming is all done with Amazon Music.
  15. Romeo_Nightfall macrumors 6502


    Aug 8, 2018
    and this features ARE?
  16. stormyuklondon1 macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2006
    I really wanted to like amazon unlimited, but no gapless playback is a hurdle i cant get over.
    Shame as the interface is just as useable as AM imo and as a prime subscriber its cheaper.
  17. P_Devil macrumors newbie


    Feb 26, 2019
    I have an Echo Show (2nd gen), a couple of Sonos Ones, some regular Echos (2nd gen.), a UE Megablast, and a Fire TV Cube so I'm pretty deep into Amazon's ecosystem but I just rely on their regular music, the ~2 million songs you get for free as being part of a Prime Member. I just can't bring myself to use a service that doesn't allow me to upload missing content and I don't want to use two apps to play music, I want uploaded files and streaming files to be integrated as they are on Apple Music and Google Music.

    I thought I was in the clear to just use Apple Music now that Echo speakers work with it but shuffling is broken, album art doesn't always display on my Echo Show, and I like the weekly playlist that Apple Music makes for me that has new music. Plus Apple Music, via Alexa, does not work on my Sonos Ones, Fire TV Cube, or Megablast. Amazon/Apple say they are working on it but Amazon Music integrates better with those. I also really like the app's interface, I have Alexa running through the Amazon Music app for vocal controls, my Bose headphones work with Alexa, and the visual interface on both the Fire TV Cube and Echo Show are great. The album artwork is always clear, the background pictures are a nice added touch, and I much prefer Amazon's approach to lyrics when using their devices, the app, and even the web interface.

    Really, if it wasn't for the lack of being able to upload missing content (I only have about 1300 songs), I would have probably switched to Amazon Music.

    No, that $3.99/month is only for Echo devices. You can get Amazon Music for $5/month if you're a student though and it's only $7/month if you subscribe to Prime.
  18. rpe33 macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2012
    I've tried all the streaming services and I ended up with Apple Music simply because it's better than the rest.
  19. TheBing1980, Mar 8, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019

    TheBing1980 macrumors member


    Oct 15, 2013
    Article Link: Apple Music vs. Amazon Music Unlimited[/QUOTE]
    --- Post Merged, Mar 8, 2019 ---
    Agreed! :)

    Maybe I missed it, but I don’t think article really compared some of the features like lyrics. It just acknowledged that they both have them.

    But it’s an area where Amazon Music is superior! In Amazon Music the lyrics scroll along as the song plays. You can tap on a specific work and jump to that exact place in the song.

    I believe that in Apple Music, it’s just a text file. But then again, I can’t even find lyrics in Apple Music. :mad:
  20. DynaFXD macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2010
    East Coast
    Have Google Play (single acct). Got Apple Music for family with Homepod. Now I mostly listen to Apple Music as I dig the native integration across all devices and I already have my whole catalog in Match. I kept the Google Play just because YouTube hobby/interest vloggers and Netflix are almost the only thing I watch and commercial free YouTube red is awesome. Although wife has a Prime acct, no real needs for Amazon's offering, though they're still getting our money, obviously.
  21. futurist101 macrumors member


    Sep 22, 2016
    Los Angeles
    I currently have Amazon Prime music and enjoy the integration with my two Echo Dots and it would be cheaper than Apple Music. Also, I prefer the Amazon Prime/Unlimited music UI over Apple's which is surprising to me. I've been thinking of switching to the Unlimited option for a while because of the annoying tendency to get odd-ball recordings of popular songs I would request for. If I had an unlimited data mobile plan I would have already subscribed. As of now, my current usage doesn't justify the cost.
  22. josephd macrumors member


    Feb 20, 2013
  23. PalidinoDH macrumors member

    Aug 13, 2014
    As a metalcore listener, Amazon Music isn't an option. Too many albums are missing from bands I listen to.
  24. burgman macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2013
    The bell shape curve in action.
  25. OwlBundy macrumors newbie


    Jun 28, 2019
    Amazon Music's default radio station offering pales by comparison, and unlike Apple Music it doesn't let you you create a station from a song, album, artist, or playlist.

    Have you even used Apple Music before posting this? You absolutely can not create a station from an album or playlist? How could an apple “fan site” constantly get so much wrong?

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24 March 7, 2019