The Daily Gamecock

Head-to-head: Apple Music vs. Spotify

When one faces the choice of which streaming service to use, the deep-set feud between the industry favorites is inescapable. Gone are the days of purchasing music — see you later, iTunes. Music is ruled by streaming.

The market of music streaming has two main options: Apple Music and Spotify. Not much sets them apart — both streaming services offer the same outcomes at the same price — but these Daily Gamecock columnists find there is a clear winner when it comes to accessibility, personalization and music quality.

Richie Holmberg: The Apple (Music) of my eye 

For the 113 million Americans who use iPhones, Apple Music is the most accessible music streaming app. After all, it comes with the phone. Pre-installed, the app beckons new and returning iPhone users to access a seemingly unlimited supply of music. The ease of use does not stop there. Apple’s recognizably intuitive design puts all of the essential functions of Apple Music within a few taps of the screen.

Not only that, but when it comes to changing devices, it's also a breeze. Users may seamlessly change between their iPhone, Mac or Apple Watch to control their tunes within the Apple ecosystem. Even if you don’t use a Mac — I use a PC — your Apple Music can follow you with both on- and -offline music through a downloadable program. 

Apple Music excels in music sharing. You can find a new song, album or artist, then iMessage your friends so they can listen too. One of the criticisms Spotify users have about Apple Music is the lack of a social interaction. To that I say: You must not have looked around. On the Apple Music Listen Now screen you can see what your friends are listening to, share and interact with playlists and more. This is a great way to discover a friend's beloved album or to find one of their most frequently played playlists. (Note: This feature can give you ammunition to make fun of your friends for their “Lit Jams” playlist.)

The most important feature of Apple Music is the ability to make a playlist. I believe that the playlist feature of Apple Music is one of the app's most robust tools. You can easily create new playlists, build off old ones or use the Similar Artists tabs to discover other music that will complement what you already enjoy. I make all of my playlists — even the ones that are moved to Spotify for the purposes of sharing with our readers — on Apple Music. What I enjoy the most about Apple Music is the ability to discover, for yourself, new music and record your findings in the form of a playlist. But, if you are feeling a bit lazy (there is no shame in that) and want someone to do the work for you, Apple features curated playlists covering artist and genre essentials, deep cuts and new music. In a similar but slightly different way than Spotify, Apple makes four playlists for you each week: Anything Spotify can do, Apple can do better.

Finally, for the audiophile, Apple Music offers Dolby Atmos spatial audio. Spatial audio, or surround sound, changes the listening experience in ways you don’t realize until you hear it. Music becomes more immersive — think seeing a movie in IMAX. This means listening to Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” will sound way cooler than it does in old-fashioned stereo.

Apple Music has won my heart, ears and $5 per month. So here's the plan: Make your own playlist on Apple Music, go for a drive, roll the windows down and listen to the highest quality audio available.

Allyson Reavis: In defense of Spotify

I am a full supporter of streaming music with Spotify. Growing up, I grew my music library on my Apple iPods and first iPhone by purchasing songs individually from Apple’s library. I discovered Spotify in middle school and bought premium almost immediately. From there, I fell in love with curating my own playlists, listening to what the app recommends to me and sharing music with my friends. My playlists changed drastically, but my love for Spotify remains the same.

Cost is an important place to start in subscribing to any streaming service. It’s a draw when it comes to comparing the prices of Spotify and Apple Music. According to CNET, both subscriptions are $10 a month and offer $5 subscriptions for student listeners, although Spotify also offers an ad-supported free tier. Apple Music forces users to buy into a subscription.

My favorite aspect of Spotify is its recommendations. These are found in Spotify’s Made for You category. Every Monday, Spotify provides users with a refreshed playlist called Discover Weekly, which features music based on the songs and artists they already listen to using an algorithm. I have found musical gold on my Discover Weekly, and I always look forward to finding new music every week. 

On top of the Discover Weekly feature, Spotify also supplies six Daily Mix playlists every day. Each Daily Mix playlist is based on a different mood or genre that the user listens to with its content being inspired by the user’s listening history and favorite music. When my own playlists are becoming too redundant and I need a new driving soundtrack, I often turn to a Daily Mix. 

Made for You also arranges a variety of other playlists for each unique listener. Some of my favorites are Release Radar, where a user can listen to their favorite artists’ newest releases each Friday, and playlists that remind people of their old go-to songs, such as Summer Rewind. It shows me the embarrassing songs I loved in 2017 so I can avoid some of those rewinds. 

Spotify's Radio stations are featured based on any artist, playlist, album or song, according to Spotify. I love that my Spotify homepage seems to know exactly what I want to hear before I know myself. Through Spotify, I have grown my own unique music taste and knowledge.

All of Spotify’s Made for You features are easily accessible along with the user’s own library by simply opening the app to the homepage. Spotify is both aesthetically and functionally pleasing. I love the simple black background, compared to Apple Music’s crowded light theme. The Spotify app is simple to navigate and minimal, while Apple Music is chaotically organized.

Spotify offers social features, too. Users can follow friends on the platform, listen to their playlists and even check friends’ listening activity on a computer. I’m guilty of checking up on what my friends are jamming to at that moment. It’s a great way to get closer to people in your life through sharing music.

If you love podcasts, Spotify is the way to go. The Wall Street Journal notes that about 41% of the U.S. population are monthly podcast listeners. Apple Music does not include podcasts in its subscription. Spotify, however, is new to the podcast scene and already carries over 2.2 million podcasts. Spotify offers podcasters plenty of ways to monetize their shows. I’ve found some of my most beloved podcasts with my Spotify subscription, such as Rotten Mango and Ear Hustle.