A musical dilemma: Spotify vs. Apple Music

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Listening to music: the ubiquitous pastime. From the indie albums of Mitski to Kendrick Lamar’s new hits, students are instantly transported to a world of their favorite music with the click of a button. However, the rising prevalence of audio streaming services births one of the world’s most contentious debates in music platforms: Spotify vs. Apple Music. 


Spotify has five available plans: free feature, individual plan, duo plan, family plan, and student plan. The free feature allows users to conveniently listen to music without charge and whenever they please. However, this feature comes with some drawbacks. On mobile devices, users can only shuffle play from playlists and albums—they cannot download their music and are occasionally faced with advertisements. Rising junior Evan Diep elaborated on the free version, saying, “Even though there are ads, after a certain amount of them, I can get 30 minutes of free listening.” The other plans offered by Spotify are paid plans, which, unlike the free version, allow the user to pick the song to which they would like to listen, and eliminate the nuisance of constant ads. 

The individual plan costs $4.99, enabling one premium Spotify account. The duo plan is $12.99 a month, and suits two accounts. The student plan is $4.99 and includes an ad-supported Hulu account. Many students have the family plan on Spotify, which costs $15.99 a month, and includes Spotify Kids, a subsidiary app targeted toward children. With this plan, students receive the same services as the other Spotify Premium plans (aside from the Spotify Kids app and Hulu account), but at a lower individual cost as many users share the plan with friends. Rising senior Alex Cho said, “I have shared a premium membership with friends, [and] I have resorted to [using] it as my main music platform.”

Another positive to Spotify is that unlike Apple Music, students can use the medium on a variety of devices and are not limited to solely Apple products. Ethan Diep, who recently graduated, said, “I’m able to listen to a wide variety of music genres…on all the devices I have from my phone to my laptop.” Rising sophomore Charlie Cuzzo stated that he prefers Spotify since the “user interface is easier for me to use [on desktop].”

Spotify also has the ability to connect to Discord, an instant messaging platform. Users can listen along with their friends in voice calls if they have Spotify Premium, and can also view what their friends are listening to on their profiles. Charlie stated that he prefers Spotify over Apple Music because of the ease of listening access on Discord calls with friends. 

Apple Music

Apple Music costs $9.99 a month, the same price as Spotify Premium’s individual plan. However, the platform offers its own individual plan for $14.99, which includes other Apple services, including Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50 gigabytes of iCloud storage. The student plan is $4.99, the same price for Spotify Premium’s own student plan. The Apple Music student plan includes a limited-time access to Apple TV+. Users that own AirPods, HomePod minis, or Beats can get six months free of Apple Music. Other Apple users are given three months free. In fall of 2021, Apple Music introduced the Apple Music Voice Plan for $4.99. This plan uses Siri to listen to a user’s voice and play the song they request.

The Apple Music family plan is one of its most popular and charges the user(s) a total cost of $14.99. Rising junior Briana Mach, who uses Apple Music, said it’s a useful resource for her and her family. Other students have data plans attached to Apple Music, such as rising junior Shannon Jackman, who has the service for free. Shannon also mentioned that she prefers using this platform as a result. 

Moreover, Apple Music’s sound quality is significantly crisper and more advanced than that of Spotify. Apple has developed the spatial audio feature of Apple Music that allows the user to hear music from a 3D perspective. Rising junior Vaashine Premathayalan said that “the audio quality is much better than other music plans [that she] used to have on Spotify and YouTube Music.”

Spotify vs. Apple Music

Despite the differences between the two apps, they both share many features, such as Spotify’s Spotify Wrapped and Apple Music’s Apple Music Replay, both of which show a user’s analytics. Vaashine expressed that she likes the convenience of this option, saying, “[I] can look back at what [I’ve] listened to.” 

Both Apple Music and Spotify create personalized playlists for their users. Apple Music has a “For You” section, where users can find these playlists. Spotify similarly offers various playlists curated for each user, with titles such as Daily Mix, Daily Drive, and many others.

Users are often drawn to Spotify or Apple Music simply because of their polished interfaces, eye-catching color palettes, and unique features. Vaashine, when describing Apple Music, said, “I just like the overall aesthetic of it. It’s black and red/pink.” She also said that Apple Music’s “way of…organizing downloads and artists is just phenomenal.” Carl, on the other hand, said that he preferred Spotify’s “sleek and minimalistic” design. Rising sophomore Rubi Kim appreciated the variety of statistics and games offered by Spotify, from the playing cards feature all the way to audio aura. 

Although music connoisseurs often disagree on which music platform is best, both apps provide a multitude of benefits and it is ultimately up to the listener to decide on which platform best suits their preferences.