Which streaming service is better: Spotify or Apple Music? Is there a big difference between the two? Is there another service that is better than both of the two?
Spotify has been around for a bit longer. Founded in 2006 in Stockholm, Sweden, the streaming service company really changed the way that we accessed our favorite music. The company is going public, with stocks hitting the New York Stock Exchange sometime this year.
They offer a free music streaming plan, with the ability to create custom playlists, listen to playlists made by other users or just listen to the top charts or your favorite artists on shuffle. The downsides to this free plan are that you can’t pick any song to play when you want (you can only do this on the PC version for free). You have to pick an artist, album or playlist to put on shuffle and hope that the song you want to hear starts playing.
Unlimited skips are not a thing for the free version, unfortunately. There are also ads. To be honest, many of these ads I can recite by heart because it feels like they play the same two or three ads every 10 minutes. The premium version ($4.99/month for students, $9.99/month for everyone else) eliminates all of these issues and adds a lot of new, useful features. You can play any song you want at any time, with unlimited skips; download songs for offline play and stream higher quality audio files. I personally have been using Spotify premium for close to a year now, and I can’t go back to the free version again.
Apple Music has grown to become one of the top music streaming services on the market, launched in the summer of 2015 shortly after Apple’s acquisition of Beats.
Pre-loaded on every iPhone, it is pretty hard to avoid. The service comes in only a paid version ($4.99/month for students, $9.99/month for everyone else, with another option being the family subscription, which includes support for up to six people for $14.99/month). This includes most of the features that Spotify offers including custom playlists, the ability to stream all of the music that you want at anytime, and downloading for offline use.
One feature unique to Apple’s music service is a built-in social networking platform called Connect. This platform allows fans to follow their favorite artists for exclusive pictures, videos and previews of new songs, among other things. Apple has recently also rolled out more social networking features that allow fans to share playlists and music, similar to Spotify. This article from MacWorld offers a better look at all of the ins and outs of Apple Music.
Arguably the third biggest streaming service out there is Tidal (Soundcloud is out there too but is a different product entirely). Personally, I don’t have experience with Tidal, but from what I hear, they are a premium streaming service with only a paid subscription option. Also, many artists will stream their albums exclusively on Tidal.
Personally, I am a fan of hip-hop music, so when Jay-Z announced his latest studio album, “4:44,” I was really excited, to say the least. I was disappointed to hear that it would be streaming exclusively on Tidal, though. As a consumer who only uses streaming services to consume my music, I couldn’t justify being locked into a monthly subscription just to listen to one album, so I haven’t listened to the project yet.
Tidal is notorious for deals like this. Back when Kanye West released “The Life of Pablo,” it came to Tidal first. This exclusivity trend is only going to hurt artists and consumers alike. Especially with rap, which is gaining more and more fans each year. Are we going down a path that will end with artists signing to a streaming service to give their music to, like they do with record labels now?
The streaming service wars are far from over. More and more people are signing up for services such as Spotify or Apple Music, rappers are launching entire careers off of Soundcloud and we as consumers need to stay wary of these exclusivity deals.