Yes, yes, alright! Here we are! We have Apple Music now, yet another subscription streaming music service. This time, it’s from Apple, though. Is it worth switching to? Well, maybe. We’re just getting our hands on it now. But among our staff here at Gizmodo there’s basically only one question that matters: How does it compare to Spotify, the biggest and best game in town. Here’s the rundown.
Keep in mind we haven’t had the chance to fully play around with the key features, but from a distance, we can see how they stack up to what’s already exists.
How much you pay
- For free: On Apple Music you can listen to ad-supported radio with just an Apple account. On Spotify, you actually get ad-supported, on-demand access to the entire Spotify catalog.
- Premium: In both cases you get unlimited access to the entire catalogs, including offline caching for $10 per month.
- Family: Apple introduced a dirt-cheap family plan that lets up to six different people get onto the service fo $15 per month. Spotify currently offers similar pricing in some markets, and we’re told the company will offering competitive pricing in the future.
- Spotify boasts a catalog of more than 30 million tracks. It has Zeppelin! But not Taylor Swift.
- Apple Music will also have more than 30 million tracks. And expect a catalog that it’s roughly the same as what Spotify has. It won’t be a carbon copy of everything that’s in iTunes. For example, the Beatles discography likely won’t magically appear on Apple Music.
- There will be some minor differences between the catalogs based on what each service is able to negotiate. Sometimes iTunes will get exclusives, and sometimes it’ll be Spotify with the goods.
Where you can listen
- Even when Apple Music launches with an additional Android app this fall, Spotify has an edge in terms of how many different ways you can access your music. Besides just iOS and Android, you can listen to Spotify through your Playstation and even on your Uber ride. Spotify has made a big effort to be everywhere, which is great because that’s where customers are.
- I can’t be sure, but it looks like there’s not even a web interface for accessing Apple Music. Which sucks. This release says it’s an “app,” right?
While we’re on the topic of software
- Apple is really good at slick software, especially on iOS. Sure it ain’t perfect. But Spotify is a goddamn train wreck on this front, and has been bogged down by iffy software releases over the years.
- Occasionally this is called “radio.” Yup, both services have playlists curated by “experts.”
- Additionally, both Apple Music and Spotify will generate pretty dumb playlists that are made by genius robots.
How to discover new music
- Spotify and Apple Music both have myriad methods for serving you up new tunes you’ve never heard before. Both will suggest music based on the genres and artists you like. You’ll also get topical music; the “hits ‘o the moment,” as it were; “Hits for the Holidays” and such. Curated playlists from expert sources will also drive discovery. Pretty standard. Looking forward to checking out that Apple discovery UI, though.
- Maybe the coolest feature Spotify has that Apple Music apparently doesn’t have (yet) is the social aspect: You can see what all your friends are listening to, and get suggestions based upon the friends you really trust.
- Also, Spotify recently added a cool running feature and a new video content initiative. Which is cool, I guess.
- Spotify has player, which, duh, come on Apple.
Apple Music extras
- Apple Music’s big differentiator is Connect: A section of the app that lets you keep up with your favorite artists. It’s a little bit like a Facebook page that you can follow. The artist posts something, and you can respond to it. The artist can also use Connect to share exlcusive content.
- Apple plays nice with all of the content you already own. I have probably 100 GB of music uploaded to iTunes Match and I can grab it from any of my Apple devices on the fly. I like the looks of how Apple Music plans to deal with integrating your personal collection with everything else. (Google Music also works well with your personal music collection.)
- You shouldn’t underestimate how lazy people are. Apple already has hundreds of millions of credit cards on file. Many of these people will probably end up subscribing to Apple Music like the good Sheeple they are.
Which one should I choose?
- Hard to say! But if you’re happy with Spotify, there doesn’t seem to be a real compelling reason to switch just yet. We’ll kepp you posted though
Yes, there are other services out there!
- Spotify and Apple Music certainly aren’t the only players in town—but these are the biggies. Previously, I’ve written about the merits of everything from Google Music to Rdio to Slacker to even Samsung’s niche Milk Music. Hell, millions upon millions of suckers use iHeartRadio. Why? I don’t know. And people even seem to care about Jay Z’s Tidal.
What are your preliminary thoughts on Apple Music versus the wide world of streaming music?
Art by Michael Hession.
This post was originally published 6/8/2015.