Battle of the Streams: Spotify or Apple Music?

The last five years has seen streaming become the number one method of music consumption. What can each platform offer you?

Molly Greeves
23rd October 2017

Undeniably, music streaming has dominated the world of music consumption and this is no surprise. Amongst a generation who want to save money, gain accessibility and discover music from a variety of genres, streaming sites have filled a void and blown all other methods of music consumption out of the water. The question is now about which one will come out on top, with Spotify and Apple Music being the main competitors.

Whilst Spotify currently dominates the market with around 60 million paying users, it was only a matter of time before the $750 billion technology company, Apple, reacted to their loss of iTunes sales by launching Apple Music in 2015 - which has already converted 30 million paying users. Although a little further behind, Tidal is also holding its own. The site owned by Jay-Z has gained 4.2 million users since it’s 2014 launch. For music fans, a streaming site is like a home, and this comparison can help you decide where to lay your head.

Everyone wants to save money, especially students, and one of the key appeals of streaming sites is that they allow us to listen to more music for less dough.

First things first, price. Everyone wants to save money, especially students, and one of the key appeals of streaming sites is that they allow us to listen to more music for less dough. Spotify and Apple Music are both priced at $9.99 a month ($4.99 with a student discount). However, Spotify allows users to listen for free, so long as the advertisements don’t drive you crazy. Although Apple Music don’t have a free option, their free trial offers three months of free listening which trumps Spotify’s thirty-day free trial. Tidal’s HiFi subscription is priced at $19.99, probably explaining why they have fewer users. However, they created a $4.99 Premium option to compete with Spotify.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

All else aside, the most important aspect of a music streaming site is, unquestionably, the actual music. This is what attracts many users to Tidal. Not only is the site endorsed by major stars such as Kanye West and Madonna but it has also enticed listeners with exclusives such as Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Rihanna’s Anti and Jay Z’s own 4:44. Not to mention, Tidal’s 40 million tracks give them a leg up on their competitors; both Spotify and Apple Music are neck and neck with around 30 million songs.

However, the curation of playlists and discovery of new music continues to be important for music-lovers and keeps many loyal to Spotify. The site’s “Discover Weekly” feature allows users to find new music that they are likely to enjoy, and it’s “Daily Mixes” provide new playlists tailored to the specific areas of a user’s music taste from their running songs to their guilty pleasures. For many, Apple Music’s “For You” feature is not as useable, as it requires the listener to select their favourite artists to create playlists they will enjoy. Additionally, Spotify boasts thousands of user-made playlists, including some by Lorde, Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar. Whilst Apple playlists are curated by music journalists and professional DJs, there is a personal aspect to a Spotify playlist that is yet to be outshined by any other site.

Overall, all three streaming sites have different merits and the question of which one to use depends on what type of listener you are. No matter which one you pick, you will inevitably come across great music that will stay with you for years to come (unless the artist removes their catalogue)!

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