Music is one of those things that’s so crucial to many, with a tune, melody or the sultry tones of that one artist enough to turn your whole day around. But when it comes to accessing music, the world is our oyster, with no shortage of music streaming services available for us to choose from, but are they all worth using? Two of the titans of the music streaming industry – Spotify and Apple Music – are seemingly always at odds with each other, looking to market themselves as the go-to option for both casual listeners and music fiends, but how do they really stack up against each other, and which one is the best? Compare Spotify and Apple Music with this Canstar Blue guide.
Spotify & Apple Music Comparison
Spotify and Apple Music are two of the most well-known brands within the music streaming market, with music lovers often falling into one camp or the other. But when push comes to shove, how do the two services stack up against each other, and will the results be music to your ears? Spotify and Apple Music will be compared on the following areas:
- Prices & Plans
- Sound Quality
- Data Usage
- Content Libraries
- Overall Verdict
If you can’t wait, here’s a table breakdown of Apple Music and Apple.
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|Brand||Cost (per month)||Songs||Podcasts||Sound Quality||Data Usage||Desktop/Web Version|
|Spotify||$0.00 – $18.99||82 million||3.6 million||24kbit/s – 320kbit/s||2MB – 7.5MB per song||Y|
|Apple Music||$5.99 – $17.99||90 million||A limited number||Approx. 256kbit/s||Approx. 2MB per song||Y|
Information gathered from respective websites. Accurate as of February, 2022.
Spotify Vs. Apple Music: Price & Plans
Cost can be a deciding factor regardless of the purchase, but how do Spotify and Apple Music go against your budget? If you’re strapped, Spotify offers a free tier, allowing you to enjoy some tunes, albeit with a few limitations, while Apple Music is only available as a paid service.
However, Spotify does also offer a wide variety of plans in addition to the Free tier, including Premium, Student, Duo and Family plans to suit your needs. The costs and inclusions of each are outlined below:
- Spotify Free: A free version of Spotify, but you’ll have to listen to ads, and you can’t select individual songs, although you can select playlists, albums and artists.
- Spotify Premium: Costing $11.99 per month, Premium allows you to listen ad-free, and select any music, podcasts and audiobooks you want, and even listen offline.
- Spotify Student: Offering the same features as a traditional Premium account, students over the age of 18 and studying at an accredited university are eligible for a discount, with Student accounts costing $5.99 per month.
- Spotify Duo: Costing $15.99 a month, Spotify Duo is ideal for two people who want a Premium account but don’t want to share. Offering all the offerings a Premium account, the Duo account splits out your playlists, and allows both of you to listen to your music at the same time.
- Spotify Family: Spotify Family is for those who live in a household of music lovers. Costing $18.99 per month, six users can access the Premium-style account, allowing each user to listen to their own music or podcasts. Spotify Family also has exclusive access to Spotify Kids, which allows for a kid-friendly audio selection.
Similarly, Apple Music also offers a number of plans and tiers, including:
- Apple Music Voice: Available for $5.99 per month, Apple Music Voice uses only Siri to control your music, although it does come with some limitations, such as you can’t download songs, or access your music from other devices.
- Apple Music Student: Also costing $5.99, Apple Music Student offers the same features as an Individual Premium account, but is only available for select and verified university students.
- Apple Music Individual: The Apple Music Premium version, the Individual account costs $11.99 per month, and includes features such as ad-free music, curated playlists, Lyrics view, the ability to download 100,000 songs and offline listening.
- Apple Music Family: Allowing accounts for up to six people, the Apple Music Family account costs $17.99 per month, and includes all of the Individual account features, as well as personalised playlists for each individual user.
Apple Music also offers a one-month free trial to see if you’re a fan of what’s on offer, although you’ll have to create an Apple ID if you don’t already have one. You can alternatively sign up to an Apple One plan, which bundles Apple products – including Apple Music – into a plan, making it a one-stop-shop scenario for Apple users.
- Winner: While both give you plenty of options to choose from, Spotify just edges out Apple Music, purely because of its free tier. While you’ll have to put up with ads and other limitations, if you’re only a casual music lover, or on a tight budget, the ability to listen for free gives Spotify the leg up.
Spotify Vs. Apple Music: Sound Quality
Sound and streaming quality is a big factor when it comes to music, as you’ll want to hear how each instrument and beat comes together. But what quality can you listen to with Spotify and Apple Music?
Spotify’s sound quality ranges from 24kbit/s to 320kbit/s, with the quality depending on which device you’re listening on, and if you have a Free or Premium account. A Free Spotify account has a sound quality range of 24kbit/s to 160kbit/s, with the Free Web Player playing at 128kbit/s, while the Premium Web Player has a quality of 256kbit/s. Spotify Premium also allows you to pick what quality you listen to, or you can simply select ‘Auto’ and let it do it for you.
While it doesn’t explicitly list it online, online estimates put Apple Music at a streaming quality of 256kbit/s, although it does offer what it calls ‘loseless audio compression’. This feature compresses down audio quality into more manageable sizes, with resolutions ranging between 16-bit/44.1kHz (which is known as CD Quality) through to 24-bit/192kHz. However, similarly to Spotify, the quality of your music is also dependent on what device you’re listening with, although Apple Music also allows you to choose the quality you stream in, and opt in to a Sound Enhancer if your music needs a boost.
- Winner: From a number’s perspective, Spotify appears to have taken the cake on streaming and sound quality, but there’s too many factors that come into play here to decide on a winner. And if you aren’t getting the quality you want, both offer an equalizer to mix your own sound, finding the perfect pitch to enjoy your music.
Spotify Vs. Apple Music: Data Usage
If you like listening to your music on the highest quality, you’ll likely have come across a few data warnings in your time. Listening to high quality music on your data can often lead to some high data usage, but how much data do Spotify and Apple Music actually use?
How much data Spotify uses will depend on what quality you’re listening with, but Spotify’s default settings generally use around 2MB of data for a three-minute song. However, if you’re listening on the highest quality, you can expect to use around 7.5MB of data per three-minute song.
Apple Music’s data usage is a bit trickier to ascertain, as the numbers aren’t listed by Apple itself. However, rough estimates put a three-minute song at approximately 2MB of data, assuming that it’s on auto quality. If you’re worried about how much data Apple Music is actually using, you can always track your data on your phone.
If your music streaming is cutting through your data, check out our guide on phone plans with data-free music streaming to see what other deals you can potentially get with your music or phone provider of choice.
- Winner: Both providers seem to use a similar amount of mobile data per song, although it’s hard to ascertain due to Apple not listing its figures. You should also consider what quality you’re listening to, as higher quality will also leave you open to higher data usage.
Big data SIM plans for music streaming
The following table shows a selection of SIM-only postpaid plans with a minimum of 40GB data on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of their standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for simple mobile phone plan comparison to easily compare plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The following table shows a selection of SIM-only prepaid plans with a minimum of 40GB data on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of their standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for simple mobile phone plan comparison to easily compare plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
Spotify Vs. Apple Music: Content Libraries
What’s on offer can help decide on which service is worth spending money on, but what exactly does each platform offer? Spotify offers over 82 million songs, in addition to over 3.6 million podcasts, along with an unconfirmed number of audiobooks in its library, with a number of exclusive artists.
Apple Music has over 90 million songs in its library, with over 30,000 playlists available for you to listen to, but doesn’t offer many podcasts. The reason for this is that Apple actually offers a podcast-only platform called Apple Podcast, in which you can get all of your podcast needs there.
- Winner: Another tie, as both services offer millions of listening options for users to enjoy. While each service will have exclusives, those looking for a one-stop-shop experience may prefer Spotify, while those wanting more music options may prefer Apple Music’s slightly larger music library.
Spotify Vs. Apple Music: Features
While the focus is generally on what tunes are available in the content library, having a few extras available can help your experience a bit more enjoyable. Spotify offers a number of auto-generated playlists, including its Daily Mix, Made for You, Discover Weekly and Release Radar, in addition to giving you the ability create collaborative playlists with your friends to curate the perfect playlist. Spotify is also available on gaming platforms such as Xbox and PlayStation, and is already installed on a number of Smart TV brands, making it much more accessible for users to jump into a playlist. And who can argue against the social media juggernaut that is Spotify Wrapped, which gives you an overview of a full year’s worth of listening.
Apple Music offers a number of features, including curated playlists similar to Spotify’s Daily Mix offerings, along with a number of radio stations to give you an option if you’re after something different. Apple Music allows you to share playlists over AirDrop, but doesn’t currently let you create a collaboratively playlist. You can alternatively tune into the Listen Now playlist, which gives you new music recommendations based on your current tunes.
- Winner: Another close call, with both platforms offering Lyrics, auto-generated playlists, the ability to share playlists and voice assistant compatibility, but Spotify takes the win with its collaborative playlists, gaming console functionality and the sheer fact that it has Spotify Wrapped, which always give you something to look forward to.
Spotify Vs. Apple Music: Which one should I use?
Choosing a music streaming platform can almost be as tough as choosing a song at a party, with plenty offering the goods to keep the good times rolling. But when it comes to choosing between Apple Music and Spotify, the decision becomes tougher, with the two services neck and neck across the majority of deciding factors.
If you’re already an Apple household, you may find Apple Music an easy inclusion into your lifestyle, while those who prefer access to songs, podcasts and audiobooks in the one app, or are simply after a free service, may prefer to use Spotify, making the decision ultimately about your current lifestyle and needs.
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