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The Key Differences You Need to Know

Spotify and Apple Music have rich and similar music libraries, but picking one over the other is not simple because of their differences. As it stands, there’s no outright winner in the Apple Music vs. Spotify debate—it’s tough to say Spotify is better than Apple Music or vice versa.

In this article, we discuss the critical differences between Spotify and Apple Music to help you determine the better option if you’re considering picking one as your music streaming service.

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Which Streaming Service Has Better Sound Quality?

One of the significant differences between Spotify and Apple Music is sound quality. Spotify’s maximum audio streaming quality is 320kbps (identified as Very High).

However, there are also lower quality options, including 24kbit/s (Low), 96kbit/s (Normal), and 160kbit/s (High), that you can enable if you want to save data. Despite being a laggard in adopting better sound quality, Spotify has been working on adding lossless audio support in a dedicated plan called Spotify HiFi since 2021.

iPhone with Apple Music on a table featured

Apple Music beats Spotify on streaming quality as it supports up to 24-bit/192kHz, making it one of the best music streaming services for audiophiles. The catch here is you need a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and quality wired headphones or speakers to play Apple Music hi-res lossless audio on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

Other sound quality options on Apple Music include 16-bit/44.1kHz and 24-bit/48kHz. If you want to minimize the data Apple Music uses, a 256kbps quality option is also available.

Apple Music also supports Spatial Audio, powered by Dolby Atmos surround sound technology, which helps create a cinema-like experience.

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Which Platform Offers the Best Content?

The Joe Rogan Experience podcast page on Spotify

Spotify has diverse content besides a music catalog with over 82 million songs. You can also listen to podcasts and audiobooks. Unlike Spotify, Apple Music mainly focuses on music, with over 100 million songs on the platform. Its content library also includes live broadcast radio stations from around the world that you can tune into anytime. With that said, if you want to listen to audiobooks or podcasts, you’ll need to use Apple Books or Apple Podcasts, respectively.

There are also unique Apple-exclusive digital radio stations and shows, some hosted by artists and famous radio personalities. Apple Music also has videos and includes live performance videos that may not be found anywhere else.

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Music Discovery and Recommendations

You can discover new music on Spotify and Apple Music in different ways. Starting with Spotify, the service offers six Daily Mix playlists based on your music taste and top Artist, Genre, Mood, and Decade Mix playlists.

There’s also a Discover Weekly playlist and a dedicated Release Radar playlist with new music from artists you follow or may like. The home tab is populated with customized recommendations, but you can find personalized music in Spotify’s Made for You tab.

The service also has a Uniquely yours section in the Made For You tab with its AI-powered DJ feature, a Time Capsule playlist of your favorite songs, songs you’re loving right now, and those you played on repeat in the past. Check out our article on how to access Spotify’s AI DJ if you need assistance with that.

Additionally, Spotify suggests music you can add to your created playlists in one tap based on songs you’ve already added.

On the other hand, Apple Music offers personalized music in the Listen Now and Browse tabs. You will find mixes, playlists, songs, albums, and stations (an endless mix of personalized music). Apple Music’s personalized playlists include Favorites, Get Up!, Chill, and New Music mixes.

There’s also a Stations for You section in the Listen Now tab with [Your Name]’s Station, Discovery Station, and several artist stations customized depending on your listening habits. These stations and playlists make discovering new music on Apple Music easy. However, you should listen to Apple Music’s Discovery Station more because it’s specifically meant for that.

Both platforms have great personalization algorithms, but many perceive Spotify’s recommendation algorithm as the best in the music streaming industry.

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Availability

Both services are available on iOS, macOS, iPadOS, Android, and Windows. You can also stream via the web and several other platforms. However, Spotify has the edge over Apple Music as it’s available on more platforms, from Linux to smart TV OSes, game consoles, smart speakers, and more.

As an early player in the industry, you’re more likely to find Spotify on a certain platform than Apple Music which was mainly exclusive to Apple devices. Spotify also offers a consistent streaming experience across platforms, unlike Apple Music.

Spotify vs. Apple Music: What’s the Music Streaming Experience Like?

Listening to music on Apple Music

The streaming experience offered by Spotify is way better relative to Apple Music. For instance, on Spotify, you can use one device to control music playing on another device, thanks to Spotify Connect.

Spotify Connect also enables you to seamlessly hand off audio from one device to another. You can, for example, switch from playing audio on your phone’s speakers to playing on your TV as long as they are connected to the same network.

Apple Music can’t do this even while streaming music using an iPhone and a MacBook. The only audio handoff support on Apple Music is available between other Apple devices and the HomePod via AirPlay. With handoff support, you can use other Apple devices to control audio on the HomePod.

But unlike Spotify, music playback will not be synced if you try to play music between different Apple devices simultaneously. Each session will be separate, but you get one listening history.

Spotify has also invested in social features, making it better to listen to and share music with friends. For instance, you can create collaborative playlists on Spotify, and there’s Blend, which allows you to invite other users and generate custom playlists that combine your unique music tastes. Besides, I find Spotify’s app has a better user interface than Apple’s across platforms.

With that said, if you’re not a fan of Apple’s ecosystem, Spotify offers better multiplatform support and streaming experience. Apple Music’s service is better optimized for Apple devices but doesn’t come close to Spotify’s intuitive streaming experience.

Spotify vs. Apple Music: Price

Spotify logo overlayed on a close-up image of DJ turntable

As one of the best free music streaming services, you can sign up and start using Spotify right now using the limited ad-supported plan. Spotify has three paid plans, including Standard ($10.99/month), Duo ($14.99/month), and Family ($16.99/month), which also unlocks Spotify Kids. There’s also a special discount for students at $5.99/month that includes Hulu (With Ads) access.

On the other hand, Apple Music has no free plan. The cheapest plan, Apple Music Voice, has many limitations and starts at $4.99/month, followed by Standard ($10.99/month), and then Family ($16.99/month). Apple also offers a cheaper student plan at $5.99/month that comes with Apple TV+ for free.

You must reside at the same address for Spotify’s Family and Duo plans. In contrast, you only need to have the same region set in iTunes to use Apple Music’s Family plan.

Unique Features Across Spotify and Apple Music

Two iPhones diagonally with Apple Music Sing volume adjustment and Duet Mode

Spotify’s exclusive features include buying audiobooks, watching video podcasts, and creating collaborative playlists with your friends. There are also special live performance records by artists. Finally, you can upload and listen to your own songs on Spotify.

Apple Music has several standout features that you won’t find on Spotify. These include Apple Music Sing, Top Charts—where you can view top music worldwide and in various cities—and the ability to listen to music together using SharePlay while on a FaceTime call.

You’ll also find music videos (including a 24-hour livestream of popular music videos), mini-documentaries, artist interviews, behind-the-scenes features, and even live performances in audio and video formats. Additionally, if you subscribe to any of Apple Music’s plans (except the Voice plan), you can access the Apple Music Classical app dedicated to classical music.

Should You Get Spotify or Apple Music?

Apple Music offers the best sound quality, has more exclusive features, and includes music videos, broadcast radio, and shows. Spotify includes music alongside audiobooks and podcasts, provides a free plan, supports more platforms, and has better social features. In terms of streaming, Spotify has the best experience and a better recommendation algorithm.

In conclusion, both platforms are excellent streaming services, but to choose the right streaming service, you should consider the devices you use, the features you want, and even your budget.

For most people, Spotify will be the best way to go, but if you’re an Apple fan, you may find Apple Music and all its features a better bang for your buck.

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