At the end of the day, a streaming service is only as good as the quality and variety of music it offers right? In this category, Apple Music and Spotify are virtual twins. Both services offer a catalogue of over 30 million songs, and these robust libraries will only continue to grow in the coming months. Both services will also allow you to supplement your playlists with your own tracks, sequencing them right along with other streaming selections.
Where Apple Music is looking to differentiate is in the exclusive content category, claiming their platform will be home to more unsigned and emerging artists. They are off to a great start with exclusivity: Apple Music boasts exclusives from artists like Dr. Dre, Taylor Swift, The Beatles, and Pharrell.
Winner: Apple Music (but just barely)
One of the biggest breakthroughs of streaming music over the past few years is their ability to usefully (and sometimes creepily, we see you in that beige van across the street Spotify) serve up tracks that are right up your alley, based on your past listening habits. So how do the contender and the champ deliver their discovery picks?
Apple Music uses a sophisticated discovery algorithm called Beats Music to help you find new artists and albums. After selecting what you like (say, Phoenix, Meek Mill, Springsteen), Apple Music’s “For You” tab will begin to populate, serving up likely material for you to grow with. Apple Music supplements this efficient little service with actual humanity: real people curating jams for you in real time.
While Spotify’s music curation is less front-and-center (the Discovery tab is somewhat buried), We’ve found that it serves up more diverse choices than Apple’s service -- a true sense of musical discovery rather than something lazy and half-baked. We want our discovery algorithms to serve up music at the edge of what we’re comfortable with, something that pushes us to explore new artists and genres while still connecting us to the things we already know and love about music. In this sense, Spotify truly lets you accomplish what’s advertised: discover.
Sharing, Trading, Mixing
Part of the joy of services like Spotify is creating curated playlists to share with friends, family, and the girl you’ve been crushing on. Now more than ever, listening to music is a social experience, and the platform with the best ways to channel and share that communal activity will have a leg up over the others. So which platform is better prepared to let you mingle?
Spotify gives you the option to post a albums, artists, playlists, or individual tracks to you Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr; it also allows you to instantly share any of the above with friends via text, email, Facebook, WhatsApp, or Google Hangouts. You can also “follow” other users to find out what they are listening to at any given time.
Compared to Spotify’s rich social offerings, Apple Music’s sharing platform comes across as pretty anemic. There is no social component that allows you to connect to friends and family, and the only way to share albums, artists, and playlists is through Facebook, Twitter, text, email, or AirDrop. While this is by no means bad, it simply doesn’t compare with the robust options offered by the more connected Spotify.
Our Final Winner: Spotify by a nose
Though Spotify is currently the more adventurous, socially integrated, and easy-to-use platform, there’s plenty of room for Apple Music to grow and improve. And while we prefer Spotify, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give them both a test drive and decide for yourself. Whatever you end up going with will undoubtedly serve you well in the unprecedented amazingness of digital music streaming.