Apple Music and Spotify, how the two music streaming platforms compare in 2020

Music streaming services have made it easier to access music libraries at an instant from anywhere across the world. While many of these platforms are available, these two platforms have won many lovers’ music hearts.

We are putting Apple Music head to head with Spotify to see which one comes on top.

Subscription plans

Both Apple Music and Spotify have three paid monthly plans to pick from: $4.99 for students, $9.99 for individuals, and $14.99 for family. Apple Music has a ‘secret’ subscription option of $99 a year, which will save you $20 if you are on the individual subscription option.

You can stream on both platforms for free. Apple Music’s plan will restrict you to its radio service, Beats 1. In contrast, Spotify allows listening to albums and playlists for free, but users are only locked in shuffle mode with six skips per hour, and you will also get ads with this option.

Spotify’s student plan comes with extra perks. Users are given free access to Hulu and Showtime movie streaming services at no additional fee.

Catalogs and discoverability

The collection of music on each service is becoming less of a differentiating factor. Apple Music has the upper hand offering 60 million songs, whereas Spotify has 50 million. In terms of availability, Apple Music retakes the lead. It is available in 167 countries as compared to Spotify, which is available in only 79.

In my experience with both apps, the music discovery algorithm is more reliable on Spotify. I can’t recall listening to a suggested song on its Discover Weekly playlist that wasn’t spot on or in line with my taste. Apple Music’s suggestion engine isn’t completely terrible; it just feels like it struggles to suggest songs I’d love sometimes.

Stream quality

Quality of streams is crucial to the audiophiles out there, so let’s see how the two stuck up against each other.

Spotify uses Ogg Vorbis compression format on mobile with a range of bitrates ranging from 24kbit/s for the low setting to 320kbit/s for the very high setting. This gives the user a wide range of options and is also handy when you are on mobile data.

Apple Music uses a 256kbps AAC format, a slightly better format, which is a somewhat superior format but is a lower bitrate compared to Spotify’s.

Mobile App interface

Both platforms offer desktop streaming, but most listeners will be using mobile apps on their smartphones to stream. Spotify features a dark background with its signature green look. Apple gives users a choice between dark and light themes.

Tabs for library, search, and radio are placed at the bottom of both apps.

So which one is music to my ears?

Both services have their benefits and pitfalls. If you are already in the Apple ecosystem, Apple Music might be more appealing because of its integration and seamlessness across different devices.

Spotify is a clear win for me here. While features are a matter of preference, Spotify feels like a complete package of the best features that most listeners would like.


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