Spotify vs. Apple Music: An Intro



I have had an iTunes account for about 11-12 years now (Is it me or does time really fly? That’s over half of my lifetime o.o). I made an account on Pandora 5-6 years ago. I joined Spotify 2 years ago. I opened an account on Apple Music two weeks ago.

I was more than reluctant to make a Spotify account because I felt that it was betraying my commitment that I had made to Apple, but not having to purchase a song anymore was just too enticing for me to ignore. I am well aware that one can download songs from YouTube using the mp3 converter, but I am one of the few who refuse to download music and movies without paying for it in some way or another. I broke this rule for about a month in my senior year of high school.

I mean, why would I switch to an unfamiliar platform when all of my music was already in one place? Yes, it is very attractive to not have to pay for it, but by switching to Spotify, I would be breaking up my music library. So, I sat and pondered on it for a bit.

Something tells me, though, that I am not the only one who was a bit hesitant to join in on the jump to Spotify. And, in all honesty, I probably never would have done it had they not taken advantage of Spotify. I still remember seeing people post what song they were listening to on Spotify, which is exactly how I found out about the platform.

Because of this of this, Spotify has managed to be the leader in paid subscribers for a music streaming platform. For the sake of this particular article, I will only discuss Spotify and Apple Music.

According to 9to5Mac, Spotify currently has 40 million paid subscribers while Apple Music has 17 million. Some may argue that it is unfair to compare the two numbers considering Spotify has been around longer, but Spotify is actually also outpacing Apple Music’s growth.


And after all, the two platforms are quite similar. Here are screenshots I took of the Discover tab in the Browse section of Spotify, and of the For You section of Apple Music:



So, why is it that we are so slow to move back to Apple and embrace their streaming service? I was at a friend’s house today discussing the moves we made in order to listen to Frank Ocean’s Blonde. My friend noted, “Isn’t Apple Music so dope? I’m still using Spotify, though.” The numbers show that we are not alone, and I have some ideas as to why this is:

  1. Apple Music Only Offers A Free Trial
    While I was discussing the previously mentioned Frank Ocean album (I highly recommend you give it a listen), a lot of my friends revealed that they had listened to it using some kind of torrent website. Why? Because they had already used up their free trial of Apple Music way back when and felt no need to actually purchase it. Clearly, this poses quite a few problems, two of them being a. People do not feel the need to pay for Apple Music because b. Apple Music is not doing it’s job by maintaining high customer retention.
  2. Spotify has both Free and Premium features
    Something I personally loved about Spotify was the fact that I could use it for free and get used to the platform while also listening to whatever I wanted, for the most part. Yes, there are frustrations that come with the free version, but it is better than having to constantly buy songs, right?
  3. Spotify Has A Social Component
    I am typically someone who likes to lay low on platforms such as Spotify, Pinterest, SoundCloud, and every other type of media sharing platform. This is probably due to my being a relatively private person, but I am aware of what Spotify has to offer to users who are more open and public with their interests. Beyond sharing your “Currently Playing” track on Facebook, and like Twitter and Instagram, you can follow your friends on Spotify, and you can see what your friends are listening to along with going through whatever playlists they have made available for you. I am new to Apple Music, but something tells me that this is not something you can do. If you can, I can’t find it. People love to collaborate, share, and be inspired by others, especially people they know, so this social feature of Spotify definitely gives them more of an upperhand.

So, at the end of the day, as much as Apple is the big dog in the tech world, they have some catching up to do in the music world. They did set the tone for legal archiving of music, but they didn’t seem to make any moves to stay on top. It was almost as if they assumed no one would try to take the throne from them. But with companies like Spotify, Pandora, and Google Play (to be discussed in the near future) solely focusing on music, it wasn’t a difficult task.

Should Apple want to put Apple Music on top and make it worth their while, I would recommend they learn from their competitors while they come up with new features rather than simply doing the latter. They can all have all of the greatest features out there, but none of this matters if everyone is still signing up for Spotify Premium.

Furthermore, using social media to their advantage would not hurt. Maybe they could team up with Instagram and allow you to stream a portion of a song along with a photo or video that you post, but you would have to click on an icon in order to find out what the song is rather than having the song be listed. Or take a page out of Shazam’s notebook, and have the Apple Music logo pop up on the corner of the screen while an advertisement is playing. I personally am someone who has discovered a lot of songs from commercials.

This post is the tip of the iceberg – I am planning on continuing to analyze and discuss the intersection of music and social media, so stay tuned! (See what I did there?) In the meantime, jam on. However you do it.




  1. I think there are two important issues here. 1) Apple music isn’t really better than Spotify so it can’t overcome the switching costs. 2) Spotify is still losing a TON of money. Simply by remaining a viable alternative Apple Music both keeps the competitive pressure on Spotify (so they can’t raise their prices or negotiate with artists from a stronger position), and remains a viable alternative if/when Spotify goes out of business.

  2. I am a huge proponent of Spotify, and despite my love of all things Apple, I simply cannot get behind Apple music. I think Professor Kane’s comment is correct: Apple Music really isn’t better than Spotify; if anything it is a somewhat comparable product. After getting used to the Spotify interface, I see it as so superior to Apple’s. Spotify allowed me access to millions of songs without having to download anything, and I haven’t paid for a single song since I joined the application. Further, I think the social aspect of Spotify is crucial to their success. I personally love seeing what my friends are listening to as it is a great way to discover new music. I also think that the data collected from users and their social groups is quite valuable to advertisers and bands alike. As Spotify evolves (there are rumors that they will be bought by Facebook), it will be interesting to see how they attempt to grow their user base and expand the social component of the service. The streaming market is currently so saturated, so one company’s success will ultimately be another’s failure. It will be interesting to see who wins out in the end (consumers, I hope!).

  3. The music subscription service is interesting to examine with so many platforms copying Spotify’s model. With Apple Music, Tidal, and event YouTube now competing in the market, Spotify is definitely struggling with people switching. Even with this, I am still a loyal Spotify Premium user on my iPhone because I’ve been using it since it came out. All my playlists are on there already and I love how when I find a song or playlist, I can share it with my friends. This social aspect with my friend group, which you mentioned, is one of the best features I enjoy on Spotify! The only issue with Spotify is if artists don’t allow their music Spotify, like Kanye West or Taylor Swift.

  4. Great post, I am interested to read your thoughts as you dig further into the crowded music streaming market. Like you I started with Itunes then switched to Spotify (free) because I just wanted to test it out. When Apple music came out I switched over to them because i received the 3-month free trial. When my time was up, I had to make a decision on my music streaming service. I chose Spotify for 2 reasons: Cost and Simplicity.

    Spotify premium for college students was $5 compared to $10 for apple music. Over a year I would save $60 dollars. This was a no-brainer to me. I also found apple music difficult to navigate when it first dropped (this may just be me). Spotify was easier to me and I already had established playlists and my music library. I haven’t kept up with Apple music but they need to change their approach to get back old users.

  5. I enjoyed your post. Like you discussed in the blog, Apple music seems to clearly be behind Spotify, and I do not think that they will catch up anytime soon. Apple music provides many of the same features as Spotify, but it has nothing new or enticing that would make subscribing worthwhile. Spotify has the first mover advantage. Users are familiar with the platform, and comfortable either subscribing to the premium service or using the free service. For users that have already built playlists on Spotify, the switching costs are simply too high. With Apple Music’s current strategy it does not seem like they will take a significant number of users from Spotify.

  6. daniellep2153 · ·

    You definitely weren’t the only one to hesitate and switch to Spotify. It took me years of my friends telling me all the reasons why I should for me to actually do so. I think initially we had this loyalty to the Apple Brand due to their years of “service” and great products. Funny enough, after switching to Spotify, it’s hard to move back to that blind loyalty. Personally, I didn’t go back because I was comfortable with this platform, as you said. It took me so long to move over from iTunes to Spotify for the same reason. There’s just something about using a platform you’re comfortable with, no matter how loyal you are to the competitor. I do wonder, however, if we’ll see the same type of switching curve that happened with Spotify. Great post!

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