Before I get into this heated debate, I have to address why I don’t have Tidal included. One, because it’s ridiculously expensive and two, there isn’t much music variety as compared to Spotify or Apple Music. The latter is the main reason why it’s disqualified. Sorry, Tidal fans. I just don’t like it that much. I do like the quality sound though.
Music streaming has indeed come a long way. Back in 2008, the industry was having shivers when they realized the rise of the internet was inevitable and their sales would drop due to pirated copies of their work being shared easily on websites. They were indeed tough times. Spotify, however, aimed to provide a solution by starting a music streaming business. This enabled people to stream music for free with the aim to reduce internet piracy. At first, the idea was laughable because no one knew how the music industry would make money from it. Fast forward to 2018, music streaming is a must-have service. So important that Apple took the same route and launched Apple Music a couple of years ago.
I believe we are in an exciting time for music. Gone are the days of you tuning to your favorite radio station and hope that they play your favorite songs. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. And when they do, they repeat it 20 times in one day. Music streaming allows you to take charge of your playlists and tailor it according to your preference. These services also take note of your preferences and recommend new songs based from your listening history. It works so well. But, we have two companies offering somewhat similar services. The question is: Which is better?
I can already sense the hate coming but this is very important. We have to consider where these services are provided and Apple Music is the obvious winner here. Spotify is a geo-locked service in Western and European Countries. I’m not sure if it’s available in South Africa, let alone the whole continent. Honestly, that sucks. If you’re a tech geek, you can work your way around this by getting a VPN and change your IP address to a country where Spotify provides its services. It’s a decent trick but very annoying as you have to stick to that IP address otherwise you will be locked out of your account. Trust me, I’ve tried it.
As for Apple Music, their approach is different. Do you have an iPhone? Great, how about you try it? If you’re using an Android device, it’s available on the Play Store. And yes, it is on the Kenyan Play Store. That’s it. You’re not restricted to some locations. Just install and get started. For iPhone users, it’s just a matter of registering your Apple ID to the service. It’s too easy. Spotify needs to rethink their strategy at this point because not everyone knows how to use a VPN let alone manually change their IP address.
I should have actually started with this one but oh well. The pricing quality of the two services is neck and neck and the decision I make here is based on preference.
What we’re actually looking for here is value for money. I’m sure most of you will say the obvious answer is Spotify because it’s free but I disagree. Why? So many reasons. If you use the Spotify app on your phone (only if you know how to do that outside the supported regions) you aren’t given the privilege of unlimited skips. They give you like 6 skips every hour so you better use them wisely. I found it very annoying because some of their playlists (which we’ll get to) have boring songs and you’re forced to listen to it because you ran out of skips. If you think that’s bad, wait until another boring song plays next. Oh, and you can’t pick individual songs. Just playlists. But that’s not all. They got ads.
Now, I’m aware they have to make money in one way or another if they’re going to be offering services for free but my God those ads are annoying. Imagine listening to Astroworld and then it gets cut short by an ad which reminds you that Spotify is “free for life”. You can, however, upgrade to premium ($10 per month) and use the app as it should’ve been used in the beginning. The premium experience is actually damn good and you may forget all the little annoyances except that it isn’t available in your country.
Apple Music once again uses a different approach. It’s not free at all. It is a paid subscription from the get go. You do, however, get a three month trial before they start billing. The price is still the same as Spotify for an individual with other price options for students and family users. The upside to this is that you can cancel anytime within the free trial. Plus you have unlimited skips. Thank God.
I pick Apple Music because I wasn’t frustrated with it as compared to Spotify.
This is another tight situation. I honestly had a hard time picking the service with the best quality. They’re both good but I’ll give this one to Spotify just because of one reason: playlists.
As I mentioned, both services have huge varieties of music. It’s really cool how you can browse through millions and millions of songs and you’ll still not be done. So, yeah, they both have variety but what do they do with it? For Spotify, they really market their playlists and new releases. They are presented to you in such a way you didn’t know you needed that playlist all along. It’s almost as if the app is reading your mind. I actually had a good time listening to the random playlists every day except for some few boring ones.
Apple tries to do the same but it falls flat miserably. We begin with your preferences. It doesn’t matter what you chose at the beginning, it will just recommend playlists that you may like. May is the key word being used here. Plus their daily recommendations are normally repeated once every two days which forces you to look for a playlist on the huge library. That’s when you realize you don’t know what you’re looking for. It can be really frustrating. Take for example this playlist below, it has been popping up as my recommended playlist for two months now. Sure they update it every week but they only add one or two songs. Ugh.
Both services are really good and it only comes down to what you prefer. Spotify nails the playlist experience and Apple Music nails the practicality factor. I actually use Apple Music and it’s quite amazing. Sure, you have to look for the playlists yourself but I got used to that. Until Spotify provides its services worldwide, I’m happy with Apple.