Apple Music vs Spotify: radio, catalogue and pricing deals mean Beats-inspired service looks set to take streaming crown

It has long been difficult to make people change music services, but Apple might have made the service to convince them

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The Independent Tech

Apple has launched its first streaming music service, Apple Music, into a busy and difficult market. Spotify makes up 85 per cent of streaming music and people have long been resistant to change — but Tim Cook and the gang might have made the app to convince them.

Cost

There doesn’t appear to be any free features in the new Apple Music — even iTunes Radio, the only really comparable thing that Apple had before, had an ad-supported tier. Spotify does have a free tier, which is funded by ads and restricts the quality, listening options and amount users can skip.

But for paid options, the price is likely to be the exact same. Both cost $9.99 in the US, and are each likely to cost the same amount in pounds.

Apple Music will also have the option to pay a bit more, probably £14.99, to allow a whole family of up to six people to share one payment, but keep their own accounts. Spotify has similar schemes to allow people to have money off if they subscribe together, but nothing so generous.

Apple Music will run a free trial for the first three months. Spotify gives anyone 60 days free when they first sign up.

Catalogue

Both have huge catalogues, but Apple Music is likely to have more. Spotify has over 30 million tracks, Apple Music has about 35 million, and access to most of the things on iTunes.

So that includes some of the high profile streaming holdouts, like The Beatles. Apple made a big deal of getting them on iTunes, and so they’re likely to be on Apple Music too. They’re not on Spotify.

It’s the free tier of Spotify that has ostensibly led to some of the missing artists. Taylor Swift, for instance, removed her music in protest against it.

Apple Music also promises to have exclusives, making the music only available on its services for a week or two — the first announced of which was Drake’s new album. Tidal made the same promise. Spotify hasn’t really done so.

Discovery

A large part of the Apple Music pitch is how it will help you find stuff you didn’t want — rather than heartless algorithms, it’ll recommend new stuff in a way curated by humans. That was long the argument for Beats Music, the streaming service that Apple got when it bought the company for $3 billion last year.

Spotify has human-driven curation too, though it doesn't go on about them. When you fire up the app you're greeted by a wall of different playlists, each of them made by humans to match specific times or needs: breakfast indie, or workout hip hop, for instance. But Spotify doesn't tend to go on about this.

Availability

Apple Music and Spotify both work for pretty much all the major platforms: Mac, PC, iOS and Android. The Android and Apple TV apps will be coming later in the year.

Spotify has an app for Windows Phone, but Apple didn't mention the platform.

Other stuff

Launching Apple Music, the company made a big thing of how it was getting into the culture and industry of music — a history of music, curated by Apple, was shown and then we were told how much better the new service would be for letting people find musicians they like. The social features, known as Connect, let people follow their favourite artists on a kind of music-focused Instagram, letting people upload works in progress or new songs.

Because Apple can get deep into iOS, the new service will be easier to use on iPhones. Siri, for instance, can control what's playing, and the new Proactive intelligent assistant can bring up music that it thinks you'll want to listen to at any particular time.

Spotify also has its own clever features, many of which were announced in the run up to Apple Music. It has options for running, letting it automatically choose songs that fit your pace, and podcasts and videos. It does have its own social services, though most of them are pretty desolate.

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