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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Spotify vs. Apple Music

Discovering which streaming service reigns supreme

When comparing Spotify and Apple Music, there are many features that make the two streaming services almost identical: both offer a family plan for up to six people, a $5 monthly student fee (instead of the regular price of ten dollars a month), a free trial period and a social aspect that allows users to follow friends and see what they’re listening to. However, they also differ, and this sparks a Spotify versus Apple Music rivalry which has fostered debate over which is the better.

Spotify was founded in 2006, whereas Apple Music only began in 2015, which has given Spotify an upward advantage in coverage and recognition as the premier music streaming app. Because of this seniority, Spotify offers its services to 83 million users while Apple Music remains behind with 50 million users. However, according to Forbes, “Spotify is increasing at a monthly rate of 2%, while Apple’s growth rate is 5%,” which means Apple Music could eventually surpass Spotify in users.

Both services have features that differentiate them from the other. Spotify offers a free ad-supported tier for users that do not want to pay monthly, while Apple’s free version is provided through the Beats 1 radio station. In addition, Apple Music offers 45 million songs while Spotify offers 35 million, which, depending on one’s musical preferences, could make a big difference in preferred streaming service.

Even though both Apple Music and Spotify offer student plans, Spotify’s student plan for $4.99 per month includes Hulu and Showtime. Spotify also appeals to students with its year-in-review “Wrapped” feature.

Kevin Lentz, a fourth-year political science major, explained his reasons for preferring Spotify over Apple Music.

“Spotify has a more intuitive and user-friendly user interface,” Lentz said. “Searching for music and queuing songs is instant and the platform creates many ‘For You’ custom playlists from the music you routinely listen to. Finding music via genre is also more exact. Spotify has sub-genres categorized under the primary genres. Spotify seems to do a superb job at finding more music beyond my initial selection that I find really appealing, even across polar genres.”

In terms of user interface, both Apple Music and Spotify pride themselves on their aesthetic qualities: a clean white background with pink font and a grungier black background with green font, respectively. While this might seem unimportant, when spending so much time on an app, many users place a high value on user interface.

Lee Chisholm, third-year communication major, explained her reasoning for choosing Apple Music as one rooted in familial preference, overall user experience and song availability.

“I started [using] Apple Music my freshman year of college because my dad purchased the family plan,” Chisholm said. “I like the lighter background of Apple music, and I’m not that into the green and black color scheme.”

In addition, other streaming sites such as Soundcloud, Amazon music or Tidal can serve as supplements and influence users’ streaming choices.

“I also find that there are a lot more songs on Apple Music that they don’t have on Spotify, especially with remixes and things like that,” Chisholm said. “I’ve always been a big Soundcloud user, so I never really focused on Spotify.”  

For many, choice of streaming service stems from years of attachment and devotion to a site. Many college students who grew up buying songs on iTunes were introduced to Spotify around the time of adolescence when they were branching out from their parents’ music tastes and ready to begin exploring music for themselves.

Fourth-year history and psychology double major Josie Kamida explained her preference for Spotify as a mixture of both comfortability and popularity.

“I think my favorite thing about it is weirdly the social aspect,” Kamida said. “I really like going onto my friends’ Spotify [profiles] and seeing what they’re listening to. I’ve also been using it since sophomore year of high school, so it’s fun to see how my tastes have changed or what I was listening to in different phases of my life.”

At this point, most people have already chosen where their loyalties lie for favorite modes of streaming. Because both streaming services have their specialties and benefits, it’s impossible to objectively choose which streaming service triumphs. As people plug in their headphones or put in their Airpods, Apple Music and Spotify can be credited for changing the way that we listen to music.

Written by: Rosie Schwarz — arts@theaggie.org

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