Apple Music vs Spotify | Comparing Prices, Features, and Libraries

Battle of the beats — How does music streaming giant Spotify hold up against Apple Music?

Over the last seven years Spotify has sat comfortably in the throne as the most popular paid streaming service in the world. Now, Apple — the company that propelled the digital music revolution forward back in 2001 — is looking to reclaim their place and boot Spotify from its cloud. Apple’s keynote this week had its competitors shaking in their boots (and the not the Taylor Swift kind of shaking), but now that the lights have faded and the smoke has cleared, let’s take a look at how Apple Music compares to music-streaming colossus Spotify.





Apple Music

Free Trial60 days3 months
Quality320 kbps256 kbps
  • Access music from third-party apps
  • Spotify’s signature algorithm
  • Playstation compatibility
  • Beats1Live
  • Siri Integration
  • Offline Listening
Free Tier
  • Ad-supported
  • Six skips per day
  • 96-160 kbps
  • Access with Apple ID
  • View and follow artists on Connect
  • Limited skips
Premium Inclusions
  • Ad-free
  • Unlimited skips
  • High quality
  • Listen offline
  • Play, save and like
  • Connect content and radio songs
Price$11.99 AUD$11.99 AUD

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Do they offer a free trial?

Yes, Spotify has long offered either a free tier option, or a 2–month free trial for their premium services and it looks like Apple Music will be doing the same. Though, Apple are one-upping Spotify’s already generous trial by offering a lengthy 3–month trial when the service launches later this month.

Whether, it’s the world's most petty case of one-upping or Apple are simply taking a page out of their predecessor’s book, they are giving Spotify (and Pandora) users more than enough time to trial their service.

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What’s the quality like?

Streaming quality is, oddly, where Apple Music loses points in the battle. It was confirmed after Apple’s flashy keynote that the service would stream at 256 kbps (the same as iTunes), which is lower than many competitors, like Spotify and Rdio (who both offer a high-quality 320 kbps stream). And according to Apple subsidiary, Beats, 256 kbps is actually below the “industry standard”.

There are many theories as to why this is: maybe Apple are making room so their Beats headphones can be marketed with “enhanced sound”, or maybe it’s simply that millions of iTunes users seem to take no issue with 256 kbps streaming (we certainly don’t). If you are an avid muso, however, you might want to compare the two services’ free trials to ensure you’ll be content with the final product.

WRITING 101 (2)

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Who offers better features?

Spotify certainly has the upper hand in terms of stream quality and with third party music integration, Playstation compatibility and Spotify’s tried and true algorithm, it sure isn’t short on extra features that sweeten the pot.

Conversely, the extra features that Apple touted at the Apple Worldwide Developers' Conference (WWDC) really blew the crowd away and it’s how Apple plan to shine amongst a sea of bare-bones services. We’ll have to wait and see just how users take to flashy additions, like Siri integration and Apple Music Connect, but there is no doubt Apple are banking on these features to sell subscriptions.

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How does their pricing compare?

Wake up (1)

While Apple Music and Spotify won’t be sharing a meal any time soon, they do have one thing in common, the exact same price point. Yep, both services will set you back $11.99 AUD. If a lower quality stream doesn’t concern you all that much and you don’t mind the occasional advertisement disrupting your listening experience, Spotify does still offer free access to their colossal music library. While the same can’t be said for Apple Music, you will be able to partially access some new features simply by signing in with your Apple I.D.

Which has the bigger collection of songs?

After the glitz and glamour of Apple keynote faded, many of us were asking the one question that wasn’t answered, just how big will the Apple Music library be? It’s been said that it won’t house the entire iTunes catalogue, but it will come close.

Since the event, new information has surfaced that the Apple Music catalogue will, again, dethrone Spotify by housing 7 million more tracks than its streaming rival Spotify.

And make no mistake, this is no coincidence, just another way Apple is taking aim at its competitors. At launch, Apple Music will reportedly have 37 million tracks ready to stream, leaving Spotify’s (still massive) 30 million strong catalogue in the dust.

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Our Verdict

When it comes down to Apple vs Spotify, who will be crowned king of the digital music scene?

Forget the rest, this is where the competition really stands. Apple have made no effort to hide the fact they're gunning for number one spot and have yet to show any concern for who they trample along the way. Spotify is sure to put up a fight, though, and a recent report of Spotify's best efforts to pay out royalties (to the tune of $3 billion) suggests the streaming giant are trying their darndest to get on the good side of major music labels after some fairly destructive public outcry from Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke.

Interestingly, this announcement came within just 24 hours of reports of an "anti-trust investigation" against Apple. The attorney general of New York is reportedly looking into suspicions that the tech giant Apple has colluded with major labels in a bid to drive "freemium" services, like Spotify, from the market. So, while it's impossible to declare a music streaming champion at the current time, it will no doubt be a bloody and bitter fight to the death. Colour us intrigued.

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