What is Better: Apple Music or Spotify?

Music streaming services have become immensely popular in recent years. Two of the biggest names in this space are Apple Music and Spotify. But which one is better? This comprehensive guide examines the key differences between these two streaming giants to help you decide which is best for your needs.

With libraries containing over 70 million songs each, both Apple Music and Spotify offer extensive music catalogs. However, there are some major differences when it comes to things like audio quality, platform availability, prices, curated playlists, and extra features.

This article will compare Apple Music vs Spotify across ten categories to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each service. We’ll look at factors like:

  • Music library and audio quality
  • Compatible platforms and devices
  • Pricing and plans
  • Ease of use
  • Discovery features
  • Music curation and playlists
  • Social sharing capabilities
  • Podcasts and other content
  • Smart assistant integration
  • Audio formats and streaming

By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of what Apple Music and Spotify have to offer so you can decide which streaming service is better suited for your personal needs and preferences. Let’s dive in!

Apple Music Overview

Apple Music is the music streaming subscription service from the tech giant Apple. Launched in 2015, Apple Music has grown rapidly, with over 78 million subscribers worldwide as of 2023.

Apple Music offers subscribers access to an extensive catalog of over 75 million songs. One major selling point is the promise of high-quality audio, with many tracks available in lossless formats like ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec).

The service is deeply integrated into Apple’s ecosystem of products and services. This makes it seamless to use Apple Music on devices like iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and Macs. The service is also available on Android devices, though the experience is not as smooth.

Some of Apple Music’s highlights include:

  • Large catalog of 75+ million songs
  • Lossless audio quality options
  • Strong integration with Apple devices and services
  • Curated playlists and radio stations
  • Access to exclusive concerts and events

Apple Music starts at $9.99/month for an individual plan or $14.99/month for a family plan that supports up to six users. Students can get a discounted rate of $4.99/month.

Spotify Overview

Founded in 2008, Spotify pioneered music streaming and has led the industry for over a decade. With over 433 million users worldwide, including 182 million paid subscribers as of 2023, it is the most popular streaming service globally.

Spotify provides access to a massive library of over 82 million tracks. While Spotify has historically lagged behind in audio quality compared to Apple Music, it now offers lossless CD-quality streaming as well for premium subscribers.

Some key features of Spotify include:

  • Huge music catalog with 82+ million tracks
  • Recently added lossless audio support
  • Powerful algorithms for music discovery
  • Popular with younger demographics
  • Robust community of playlists and podcasts
  • Supported by most smart devices and platforms

Spotify Premium costs $9.99/month for an individual plan or $15.99/month for a family plan of up to six users. Discounted rates are available for students ($4.99/month) and military members ($7.99/month).

Now that we’ve provided an overview of each service, let’s directly compare Apple Music and Spotify across ten major categories.

Apple Music vs Spotify: Key Comparisons

Music Libraries and Audio Quality

Both Apple Music and Spotify boast extensive music catalogs with over 70 million songs each. The majority of mainstream music can be found on both services.

However, Apple Music has a slight edge here. Its catalog reportedly exceeds Spotify’s by several million tracks. Apple’s licensing agreements with record labels allow it to offer certain exclusive releases. This includes albums like Beyonce’s Lemonade that are not available on Spotify.

In terms of audio quality, Apple Music has traditionally offered better quality streaming. Songs are streamed in 256 kbps AAC format compared to Spotify’s 320 kbps Ogg Vorbis format.

But Spotify recently introduced lossless CD-quality streaming at 1,411 kbps for its Premium subscribers, putting its audio quality on par with Apple Music lossless. However, Apple Music also offers high-resolution lossless audio up to 24-bit/192 kHz, which audiophiles will appreciate.

So while Spotify has closed the gap, Apple Music still edges it out for its expansive music catalog and support for lossless and hi-res formats.

Winner: Apple Music

Platform and Device Availability

Given Apple Music’s deep integration with Apple’s ecosystem, it has the best support on iOS devices like iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. Using Apple Music on Mac is also seamless.

However, Apple Music is more limited in terms of support for non-Apple devices. The Android app has a decent user experience but does not have full functionality parity with the iOS counterpart. Apple Music is also not supported on popular platforms like Linux and gaming consoles.

Meanwhile, Spotify has top-notch support for a wider range of platforms. These include Windows, Mac, Linux, gaming consoles like PlayStation and Xbox, smart speakers and displays, smart TVs, and automotive infotainment systems.

Spotify Connect also makes it easy to switch playback between devices. So Spotify clearly has the edge in terms of cross-platform support and audio portability.

Winner: Spotify

Pricing and Plans

Both Apple Music and Spotify offer similar pricing and plans:

  • Individual plan: $9.99/month for 1 user
  • Family plan: $14.99/month for up to 6 users
  • Student plan: $4.99/month

One difference is that Spotify also offers military and first responder discounts. These members can get Premium for just $7.99/month.

Overall, pricing is very comparable between the two services. The choice ultimately depends on individual budget and needs. Family plans offer an affordable way for multiple people to get subscriptions.

Winner: Tie

Ease of Use

Apple Music has a sleek, intuitive interface that feels very natural to use on iOS devices. The iPhone app in particular makes it extremely easy to browse, play, queue, and share music.

The Android experience is not quite as smooth but still straightforward for the most part. Some users report issues with syncing libraries and offline downloading though.

Spotify also has an easy-to-navigate interface across the majority of platforms. The layouts are clean and navigation is logical between tabs like Home, Search, Library, and Radio.

One advantage Spotify has is that the user experience and feature set are virtually identical between both iOS and Android. So you can switch between devices more seamlessly.

Overall, Apple Music might have a slight edge for iOS users, while Spotify offers greater consistency across platforms.

Winner: Tie

Discoverability of Music

Music discovery is a core strength of Spotify. Its algorithmic recommendations are excellent, surfacing new artists, albums, and playlists tailored specifically to your tastes. Features like Discover Weekly, Release Radar, and Daily Mix make it easy to find new music.

Apple Music has gotten better at music discovery but still lags behind Spotify. The For You tab offers curated playlists and recommendations, but they are not as precise or personalized. However, Apple Music’s integration with Siri does allow you to easily request genre stations and mood-based playlists.

Ultimately, Spotify’s discovery algorithms are still superior, especially for users who want constantly updated recommendations based on listening history and habits.

Winner: Spotify

Playlists and Music Curation

When it comes to human-curated playlists, both Apple Music and Spotify shine. Spotify claims to have over 4 billion playlists created by users. Apple Music also has a massive collection of playlists expertly compiled by its global editorial team.

Spotify certainly has the scale advantage, given its much larger user base. But Apple’s editors and celebrity guest curators have assembled top-notch playlists spanning every genre, mood, and activity.

This one is close, but Spotify may have the edge in terms of breadth, depth, and third-party integration. Services like Soundiiz make it easy to transfer playlists from Apple Music over to Spotify.

Winner: Spotify

Social Sharing and Listening

Social and community features have been one of Spotify’s hallmarks. Users can follow friends and see what they are listening to in real time. You can also collaborate on public playlists together.

Apple Music is primarily focused on individual users rather than social features. There is no way to see what friends are playing or share playlists publicly. However, Apple Music does allow you to share songs and albums to apps like Instagram Stories. But Spotify offers more robust social media integration.

For users who care about socially connecting over music, Spotify has a clear advantage here. Apple Music does not cater much to the social use case.

Winner: Spotify

Podcasts and Other Content

In recent years, Spotify has expanded aggressively into podcasts, audiobooks, and other non-music audio content. It now has over 3 million podcast titles, allowing you to listen to podcasts directly within the Spotify app.

Meanwhile, Apple Music is still focused almost entirely on music. While you can access Apple Podcasts for free on iOS devices, the podcast library is separate from Apple Music.

So if you want both music streaming and podcasts/audiobooks in one unified service, Spotify is the better option today. However, Apple may potentially integrate more non-music content into Apple Music down the line.

Winner: Spotify

Voice Assistants

Given Apple’s ownership of Siri, Apple Music naturally has extremely tight integration. You can request specific songs, artists, playlists, or stations using Siri across Apple devices.

Spotify also works well with Siri and other assistants like Alexa. You can use voice commands for playback, searching, and navigation. However, integration is not as deep as with Apple Music and Siri.

Both services also offer voice-controlled smart speakers: Apple HomePod and Spotify Car Thing. So you can use voice without any screen needed.

Thanks to Siri, Apple Music edges out Spotify when it comes to voice control capabilities. But Spotify still offers broad voice assistant compatibility.

Winner: Apple Music

Audio Formats and Streaming

A key strength of Apple Music that audiophiles appreciate is support for lossless formats like ALAC and hi-res lossless audio up to 24-bit/192 kHz. This allows you to stream in CD-quality or better.

Historically Spotify maxed out at 320 kbps streams. But lossless streaming at 1,411 kbps is now available for Premium subscribers at no extra cost.

So while Apple Music has more audio format flexibility, Spotify has closed the gap significantly. Both services can deliver excellent sounding lossless audio now.

One difference is that Apple Music allows offline downloads in lossless quality, while Spotify currently downgrades lossless streams to 320 kbps for downloads to conserve storage space.

Overall, Apple Music takes the win here thanks to its lossless and hi-res support. But Spotify meets the needs of most casual listeners with CD-quality lossless.

Winner: Apple Music

The Verdict: Which is Better?

Based on our detailed comparison, is Apple Music or Spotify the better streaming service overall?

The answer largely depends on your priorities and needs as a listener.

Apple Music has the advantages when it comes to:

  • Audio quality (lossless + hi-res support)
  • iOS integration and experience
  • Exclusive releases and content

Spotify is superior for:

  • Cross-platform availability
  • Algorithmic music personalization
  • Playlists and social sharing
  • Podcasts and other audio

Casual listeners who want a seamless and affordable music streaming experience across devices are better off choosing Spotify. Power users on Apple devices who care about audio quality would appreciate Apple Music more.

Ultimately both Apple Music and Spotify are excellent choices for music streaming. Your decision can come down to where you use music (iOS vs multi-platform) and audio priorities (quality vs discovery). Try out free trials of both services to see which is the better fit.

FAQ’s about Apple Music and Spotify

Does Spotify have more songs than Apple Music?

No, their core music libraries are comparable in size. Both have over 70 million songs. Apple Music may have a slightly bigger catalog overall when factoring exclusives.

Is Apple Music sound quality better than Spotify?

Apple Music historically had better quality thanks to 256 kbps AAC vs 320 kbps Ogg Vorbis on Spotify. But with Spotify’s addition of lossless CD-quality streaming, the audio quality is now comparable unless you need hi-res lossless.

Can you upload your own music to Spotify?

Yes, Spotify allows you to upload your personal music files to its servers, up to 10,000 songs per user. These tracks can then be accessed from your Spotify library. Apple Music does not offer this functionality.

Does Apple Music work on Android?

Yes, Apple Music is available on Android smartphones and tablets. However, the integration is not as deep as on iOS and some features like handoff and lyrics are missing from the Android app.

Can you get Spotify on Apple TV?

You cannot natively install the Spotify app directly on an Apple TV. But you can play Spotify from your phone via AirPlay to Apple TV. Or use a device like Roku instead.

Is Spotify free on iPad?

The Spotify iPad app can only be used with a paid Premium subscription. The free ad-supported version of Spotify is not available on iPad or Apple tablets. Apple Music offers a free trial but is paid-only otherwise.

Can Siri play Spotify?

Yes, Siri can perform basic commands like playing songs or playlists with Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services. But Siri has deeper integration with Apple Music allowing more advanced voice control.

Who pays artists more – Apple Music or Spotify?

It is complex to directly compare payouts, but generally Apple Music pays slightly higher royalty rates (around a penny per stream) vs Spotify (between 0.3-0.5 cents per stream). However, Spotify has way more users overall.


Determining the better music streaming service between industry leaders Apple Music and Spotify depends on your priorities as a listener. For the best audio fidelity, iOS integration, and exclusive content – Apple Music excels. But Spotify is superior for playlist sharing, music discovery, and cross-platform availability.

Consider your devices, listening habits, and budget to decide if Apple Music or Spotify is the right choice for your musical needs. And explore all the features with extended free trials. Enjoy finding the perfect music streaming companion!

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