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Apple Music and Spotify overwhelmingly dominate the music streaming space, but the two services offer surprisingly different experiences despite their competitive pricing, so which is best?

Apple-Music-vs-Spotify-Feature-1.jpg

While Spotify has been around for longer than Apple Music, both services are now very widely adopted. Apple Music and Spotify have similar libraries with over 100 million songs, with features like personalized playlists, live lyrics, collaboration, crossfade, and SharePlay support, making it all the more difficult to choose between them. Read on for a detailed comparison to help you choose the music streaming service that's best for you.

Apple MusicSpotify
Advanced library management, allowing users to curate a collection of music with a wide range of sorting optionsNo "library;" add songs to a playlist of liked tracks instead
Basic music discovery algorithmAdvanced music discovery algorithm
Limited personalization comprising "New Music Mix," "Get Up Mix," "Chill Mix," and a personal radio stationPersonalized mixes including "Release Radar," "Discover Weekly," and "Tastebreakers," in addition to thousands of algorithmic playlists that are tailored to the user
Emphasis on human-curated playlists, with limited use of algorithmic playlistsEmphasis on advanced algorithmic playlists
Occasionally offers exclusive releases from major artists
Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos for a virtual surround sound experience with supported songs
Lossless Audio up to 24-bit/192 kHz
Apple Digital Masters specification
Apple Music 1, Apple Music Hits, and Apple Music Country radio with live DJs, interviews, specials and show archive
In-app music videos
In-app podcasts and audiobooks
Apple Music Classical app based on Primephonic
Apple Music Sing karaoke experience
Limited social sharing optionsComprehensive social sharing options, such as the ability to see what friends are listening to in real-time
Apple Music Replay year-long retrospective experience with limited social media supportSpotify Wrapped end-of-year retrospective experience with better social media support
Closely integrated with the Apple ecosystem, including Apple TV, HomePod, Vision Pro, Siri, and Apple Fitness+
Available on all Apple devices and Android, as well as some games consoles and TVsAvailable across a wide range of devices, including non-Apple ones, but no support for Vision Pro
Known for user-friendly, cross-platform design
Ability to control Spotify on one device from another
Integration with existing iTunes libraries, allowing users to merge a personal music collection with the streaming library and upload and stream tracks that aren't in the Apple Music libraryAbility to play local audio files
Listen to Apple Music 1, Apple Music Hits, or Apple Music Country for freeFull library access and shuffled playlists with ads for free
Individual subscription: $10.99/month
Student subscription: $5.99/month
Family subscription: $16.99/month
Individual subscription: $10.99/month
Student subscription: $5.99/month
"Duo" household subscription: $14.99/month
Family subscription: $16.99/month
Included in all Apple One subscription bundle tiers


Both Apple Music and Spotify boast extensive music libraries, sophisticated personalization features, and comparable subscription models, but the nuances of their offerings cater to slightly different audiences. When choosing between the services, you should decide which of the two following groups you fall into.

Apple Music touts a seamless and feature-rich listening experience for Apple device users, offering particular advantages to those who are heavily embedded in Apple's ecosystem. The service is particularly appealing to audiophiles and those invested in high-quality audio, thanks to features like Lossless Audio and Spatial Audio. Apple Music's exclusive content, such as live radio shows and the Apple Music Classical app, provides unique value to those seeking more than just a vast music library. Apple Music is the preferred choice for users who appreciate the convenience of Siri integration, conventional library management, the ability to merge their own music library with the streaming service, and who are possibly already subscribed to other Apple services, making the Apple One bundle an attractive proposition.

Spotify, on the other hand, excels in music discovery and social sharing. Its sophisticated algorithms that power features like Discover Weekly and Release Radar are unmatched for surfacing new music tailored to the listener's tastes. Spotify's cross-platform design and compatibility with a wide range of devices make it a versatile option for users with a diverse range of hardware. The service's superior social features, such as the ability to see what friends are listening to in real-time, enrich the music discovery process. Spotify is the go-to choice for users who value these social and discovery aspects highly, as well as those who appreciate the option of a free, ad-supported tier.

Which music streaming service do you prefer and why? Let us know in the comments.

Article Link: Apple Music vs. Spotify Buyer's Guide
 
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sgo

macrumors newbie
Feb 3, 2024
3
24
Germany
You missed some facts.

Apple Music does have audiobooks. Maybe not as many (?) but it does have them. In my experience mainly für Kids. But enough that there are dedicated apps for that.

Also, very important in my eyes, Spotify also doesn’t offer Siri / HomePod integration. Out of spite.

Oh, and Spotify pays its artists less.
 

ofarlig

macrumors 6502a
Jun 23, 2015
850
1,036
Sweden
I am trying Apple Music again on their free trial and it is astonishing how terrible it is. There’s small hiccups in the audio playback quite often (as in every third song), hard to find anything to listen to unless I search for every song myself and manually add it to a playlist, lacking the big library of original live sessions that Spotify has, no direct to device streaming like Spotify Connect.

Honestly it feels like a beta and many many years behind Spotify as a music streaming service, I won’t continue paying for it after the free trial and delete the app and use Spotify again instead.

Apple’s services really feel like a compromise these days, Music is the same as Maps, sure it technically does what it says it will but it does it substantially worse than the competition did it 10 years ago.
 

contacos

macrumors 601
Nov 11, 2020
4,458
17,275
Mexico City living in Berlin
I occasionally try Apple Music again with one of those what seems to be endless trials but I just can’t get used to something as basic as the white on pink UI and I also need something like „Spotify Connect“. I like how you can open the App on one device to control the music on another device without pausing what you are actually doing on this device. On Apple Music you simply get a message like „we detected that you already listen to music on another device, do you want to pause it“.

I am also just too used to my curated playlists like every Friday it’s like „yay my Viva Latino or Release Radar has been updated. Let’s hear what’s new!“ Playlists in general don’t seem to be localized for a specific market / country on Apple Music. There are literally playlists for each Country on Spotify and it’s great.

But the biggest issue why I can’t use Apple Music is that I have two AppleIDs and every time I need to switch for a moment to the other one, it wipes my whole offline music! No go.
 
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Kraszim

macrumors member
Feb 20, 2017
49
223
I switched to Spotify due to:
- Superior interface on desktop
- Broader library of music, with both more independent artists and some game soundtracks missing from Apple.
- Apple had no localized playlists. For instance all christmass music playlists were filled with US songs. Spotify has one made specifically for my country additionally to more international ones.
- Spotify music discovery actually suggests good stuff
- Ability to control music playback on mac using spotify on phone
What I miss
- Lossless quality
- Desktop Spotify has no AirPlay support, sucks with homepods
 
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Realityck

macrumors G3
Nov 9, 2015
9,600
14,174
Silicon Valley, CA
Which music streaming service do you prefer and why? Let us know in the comments.
For me it's how you can personalize Apple Music for use with CarPlay as one example. Also like the recent separation of Classical and Apple Music now where you can enable playback of lossless music from both as well as Spatial Audio tracks or Albums. Presently Classical is still in development for CarPlay by a recent Classical update 1.2 enabled it to sorta work. Then Apple disabled it if you updated to 1.2.1.

A recent video comparing both. The best choice depends on your preferences.

 
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AndiG

macrumors 6502a
Nov 14, 2008
906
1,632
Germany
This is a simple question. Spotify wins since it isn‘t tied to Apple. No matter what platform or device, I’m almost sure, Spotify will work. I have no worries and I’m not locked in, into Apples ecosystem - this is a huge benefit.

Same is also true for AppleTV. For Netflix, Prime, younameit , I just need a browser and i’m good to go.

Same is true for all Apple services. Try to listen to Apple Music or connect to iCloud storage on Linux, you will fail. Apple services on Windows were always a bad experience.


If Apple would follow the Microsoft approach to try to deliver the best experience on every platform, also Apple services would be welcome. But as long as Apples business model is to „lock customers in and lock competition out“, my advise is to ignore Apple services wherever and whenever you can.
Therefore I like to use Spotify on my iPhone and in my car and I know that if I‘m going to buy another brand tomorrow, I have no worries.
 
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sgo

macrumors newbie
Feb 3, 2024
3
24
Germany
There’s small hiccups in the audio playback quite often (as in every third song), hard to find anything to listen to unless I search for every song myself and manually add it to a playlist

same as Maps, sure it technically does what it says it will but it does it substantially worse than the competition did it 10 years ago.

No hiccups here. Siri is the real problem finding songs on a HomePod or iPhone. Also, once I played some songs it just goes on with similar songs. Hard to „find“ anything to listen to unless you look for it? How can you find something without looking for it first?
I believe Apple Music is just different that way. And I like it more. You have to know what you want. Choose a playlist or radio station. Look for your favorite artists / albums and play them or add them to the playlist. But you do have to know what you want. Spotify: play one song and never think about music choice again. When Apple introduced the feature that is just keeps playing I was annoyed at first. Now it’s just a small nuisance.

Also, there’s direct playback (e.g. on HomePods and other devices that have Apple Music). Could the support be better? Yeah. But you seem to be on android and other devices (Alexa?). The other way round, Spotify doesn’t support Apple devices very well.

I could agree with the UI being somewhat clumsy and sluggish. But then again, I always hated the Spotify UI as well.

As for maps, its core technologies are much better than google maps. And they give way more privacy. The only problem is that less people use it and add information to it. Less information = less users. But it’s not worse than google maps 10 years ago. Not by a long shot.
 

krspkbl

macrumors 68000
Jul 20, 2012
1,878
4,315
Spotify is definitely and by far the best.

For me the main thing is discovering new songs. I get so excited every Monday and Friday for my Discover and Release Radar playlists. General discovery is lightyears ahead of Apple Music. Also, 98% of the time I'm listening to music is at my desktop which is Windows. The desktop app is a much better experience that what I had to deal with when trying Apple Music. I know Apple have a native Windows app now but I haven't tried it yet and it's still in "Preview". When I tried it my options were A) use iTunes (lmao what year is it?), B) Use the web browser which would log me out often or sometimes refuse to play a song until I reloaded the page, C) use a third party app which was also a buggy mess. i don't know if it still exists but I won't name it because the developer doesn't deserve to be supported.

My spotify is paid up to 29th December so I'm not going anywhere but maybe around October/November I'll sign up to Apple Music again to give it yet another try. As much as I enjoy Spotify I am always open to alternatives because I'm not loyal to any particular brand, service, or company.
 

billyknapper

macrumors newbie
Jan 15, 2024
4
7
Nantwich, UK
One of the main reasons I've not switched to Apple Music is the fact that, with Spotify, both me and my wife can sign into / share one account so only pay one subscription. You can't both listen at the same time but that hasn't ever been an issue. I use it for my commute... when I'm at work she uses it at home... we listen together.

Is this something you can do with Apple Music?
 
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ofarlig

macrumors 6502a
Jun 23, 2015
850
1,036
Sweden
No hiccups here. Siri is the real problem finding songs on a HomePod or iPhone. Also, once I played some songs it just goes on with similar songs. Hard to „find“ anything to listen to unless you look for it? How can you find something without looking for it first?
I believe Apple Music is just different that way. And I like it more. You have to know what you want. Choose a playlist or radio station. Look for your favorite artists / albums and play them or add them to the playlist. But you do have to know what you want. Spotify: play one song and never think about music choice again. When Apple introduced the feature that is just keeps playing I was annoyed at first. Now it’s just a small nuisance.

Also, there’s direct playback (e.g. on HomePods and other devices that have Apple Music). Could the support be better? Yeah. But you seem to be on android and other devices (Alexa?). The other way round, Spotify doesn’t support Apple devices very well.

I could agree with the UI being somewhat clumsy and sluggish. But then again, I always hated the Spotify UI as well.

As for maps, its core technologies are much better than google maps. And they give way more privacy. The only problem is that less people use it and add information to it. Less information = less users. But it’s not worse than google maps 10 years ago. Not by a long shot.

The problem is if I say want to listen to genre X and search for it on both and pick a “curated” playlist, on Spotify I get playlists with a mix of the hits and some “if you like those you should like these” while on Apple Music I get nothing worth listening to.

Also I don’t count HomePods as other device playback because nobody should listen to music on that terrible speaker, the problem is Apple doesn’t integrate well with HiFi systems, there’s Airplay 2 but that is dependent on your phone doing the streaming.

And yes Maps is worse than Google Maps was 10 years ago, I tried to use it in my car just because Google Maps wouldn’t work on the drivers display when using CarPlay. A lot of the places didn’t even exist in Maps so I had to use Google Maps to find the address to them and then input it in Maps, then Maps regularly tried to make me drive illegally by making illegal turns or drive the wrong way up one way streets.

Apple for sure started putting profits over great products and services in the past years.
 

sgo

macrumors newbie
Feb 3, 2024
3
24
Germany
I’m almost sure, Spotify will work

Same is also true for AppleTV. For Netflix, Prime, younameit , I just need a browser and i’m good to go.

Same is true for all Apple services. Try to listen to Apple Music or connect to iCloud storage on Linux, you will fail. Apple services on Windows were always a bad experience.


If Apple would follow the Microsoft approach to deliver the best experience on every platform,
Try using Spotify one HomePods with Siri. Good luck.

You do know that you can use AppleTV+ and Apple Music in a browser? iCloud Drive (and all other services) as well. Of Of course, no file sync through the browser. You’d have to use the ”very good“ iTunes for that outside of Apple devices.

„The best experience on every platform“ 😂😂😂 You clearly can’t be talking about Microsoft. It’s not even a good experience on their own platforms, let alone on Mac or Linux. But yeah, it works better than iTunes on windows. I give you that. Better ≠ the best experience. But everywhere the mediocre, ”it-kinda-works“ experience maybe.

I get your point about lock-in and total agree. However, it’s not as if you can’t access those services on Linux or somewhere else. Plus, it’s about Spotify vs Apple Music. And there, Spotify doesn’t integrate well with Apple devices out of spite. The APIs are there (which Spotify asked for years ago), but for years it refuses to use them while other streaming services do.
 

AndiG

macrumors 6502a
Nov 14, 2008
906
1,632
Germany
Try using Spotify one HomePods with Siri. Good luck.

You do know that you can use AppleTV+ and Apple Music in a browser? iCloud Drive (and all other services) as well. Of Of course, no file sync through the browser. You’d have to use the ”very good“ iTunes for that outside of Apple devices.

„The best experience on every platform“ 😂😂😂 You clearly can’t be talking about Microsoft. It’s not even a good experience on their own platforms, let alone on Mac or Linux. But yeah, it works better than iTunes on windows. I give you that. Better ≠ the best experience. But everywhere the mediocre, ”it-kinda-works“ experience maybe.

I get your point about lock-in and total agree. However, it’s not as if you can’t access those services on Linux or somewhere else. Plus, it’s about Spotify vs Apple Music. And there, Spotify doesn’t integrate well with Apple devices out of spite. The APIs are there (which Spotify asked for years ago), but for years it refuses to use them while other streaming services do.
But I‘m ignoring Homepod as well. Since I don‘t want to be locked in into something.

I‘m talking about Microsofts cloud strategy. And for this you have Apples „lock customers in, lock competition out“ vs Microsofts „we try to deliver the best experience on every platform“.
I still don‘t like MS but they had a huge success with Azure and ChatGPT/AI now and already integrated AI in Word, Excel Powerpoint and nearly every other product.

Apple has the iPhone. Since 2007 - that‘s it. For home automation I believe in Matter. I like to use the iPhone and the MBP, but that‘s it.
 
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IceStormNG

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2020
517
670
I'm current switching to Spotify after using AM since it was released. Main reason is that AM is a really bad experience on non-apple devices and I more and more leave the apple ecosystem because windows and android just suit me better.
I was honestly surprised how quickly Spotify learned my music habits when I started to transfer Playlist. Things like smart shuffle worked well from the first day and already let me find new songs that I like.
Apple music took very long to recognize my taste and recommend me songs that I actually like. Even now it doesn't seem to be that sure or it just wants to force some mainstream tracks onto me which I don't care about.
About 95% of my music on AM was added because I found the song by other means and searched for it. Not because I discovered it through apple music.

Music quality... Tbf I went forth and back and tried to compare it. With my headphones (Momentum 4 Wireless) there is no noticeable in quality. Some songs seem to be mixed slightly different but I couldn't even tell which one is better.

Adding your own music, that is not in their catalogue, is better on AM though. It works more seamless across devices compared to Spotify.



Is this something you can do with Apple Music?
Yes you can use a separated apple ID for that. Also on iPhones. Though not sure whether Apple will try to prevent Account sharing or not. But technically it is possible.
 

scrm

macrumors member
Mar 20, 2009
34
151
I switched from Spotify back to Apple Music two years ago and was very glad I did. Spotify had a habit of quietly removing songs from their library -- presumably when rights expired, but they never gave you a heads up -- which drove me insane. Happened to several of my favourite songs, some of which were from indy artists on compilations.

Apple Music’s search feature isn’t the best, and I could do without the artist promotions. But it’s better integrated into the Apple ecosystem (obvs), and never makes me want to throw it against the wall because they’ve disappeared one of my favourite tracks.
 

morphineseason

macrumors 6502
Apr 1, 2007
298
245
I've used both. I eventually went with Spotify because it tends to have better recommendations. Not sure if Apple Music ever resolved this. At the time, Apple Music's big focus always seemed to be the curated stuff, but my music taste is pretty far from the people who curate mainstream playlists, and the algorithmic recommendations was stuff I'd already heard.
 

IceStormNG

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2020
517
670
and never makes me want to throw it against the wall because they’ve disappeared one of my favourite tracks.
Just a warning: apple music also quietly loses tracks due to licenses. I lost a bunch of songs from my Playlist over the years, that I then had to source by other means to fill the gap.

Apple music will also replace some songs if that exact version does not exists anymore but they find one that they think is the same (which isn't always the case).
 

JuicyGoomba

macrumors member
May 20, 2021
82
239
The first point is just downright incorrect.

The only thing Spotify is missing for their library is a songs tab, but they maliciously removed that as people were using it to keep all their songs downloaded to avoid using data and extra battery (how dare they!).

The only way around this currently is to manually add everything to a playlist and update it yourself constantly. No "smart" playlist option like Apple Music that automatically adds new songs or albums to it for auto downloading.

Their excuse is that's what the "liked songs" playlist is for, but liking an album doesn't add it to that playlist, you have to add each song individually.

YouTube music would be getting all my money if they allowed albums to be sorted by artist name. They don't. It's a feature requested for years now but they'd rather focus on changing the UI every 6 months. You can even go into the artist you want from your library to find albums, as it only shows a limited selection of songs before giving you a button to take you to the main artist page, to then go to the album section...

Why not use Apple Music then? It has all the library management that us album listeners need... Buuuuut the app sucks. It's awful and has always been awful on both Mac, Windows, and iOS/Android. It's slow, clunky, full of bugs, and the performance is just embarrassing for a desktop app. It's not fun seeing a list of albums stutter like crazy on a 280hz display (or even a 60hz monitor for that matter).

So Spotify it is. As many have said their algorithm is unrivalled and is usually very good at unearthing gems. It's worth tolerating their anti-download policy for the ease of use and content. The only other mild irritant is getting the odd advert for podcasts or the newest Taylor swift song. Spotify... Do you really think someone who recently saw Lorna Shore and Fit for an Autopsy wants to know about these things?

I think the only thing missing from the Spotify apps feature wise is colour customisation for android, but I get that the green is a branding thing, and a light mode for the pensioners.
 

JuicyGoomba

macrumors member
May 20, 2021
82
239
Just a warning: apple music also quietly loses tracks due to licenses. I lost a bunch of songs from my Playlist over the years, that I then had to source by other means to fill the gap.

Apple music will also replace some songs if that exact version does not exists anymore but they find one that they think is the same (which isn't always the case).

Spotify has a toggle you can enable that shows unavailable songs, so if this happens you'll still have the songs and albums in your library but they'll be greyed out.

Not ideal either way, but at the very least you can see which songs that have been removed in order to purchase or acquire them in other ways.
 
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