Apple on Monday unveiled its long expected streaming music service, Apple Music. While die-hard Apple fans will need no convincing to sign up for the company’s latest media endeavor, Apple Music is entering a crowded field currently dominated by industry veterans like Spotify.
With Apple Music set to launch on June 30th, the “Apple Music vs Spotify” question is in the mind of many users looking to potentially switch services or sign up for an on-demand streaming service for the first time. Here’s an overview of how Apple Music compares in most important categories to its primary competitors, Spotify, Rdio, and Google Play Music All Access.
|Monthly Cost - Individual (USD)||$9.99||$9.99||$9.99||$3.99 - $9.99|
|Monthly Cost - Family (USD)||$14.99||$14.99 - $29.99||N/A||$14.99 - $29.99|
|Number of Songs||"Over 30 Million"||"Over 30 Million"||"Over 30 Million"||"Over 32 Million"|
|Audio Quality||N/A*||320kbps||"Up to 320kbps"||320kps|
|Mobile Availability||iOS, Android*||iOS, Android, Windows Phone||iOS, Android||iOS, Android, Windows Phone|
|Desktop Availability||OS X, Windows||OS X, Windows, Linux||Browser Only||OS X, Windows|
A few notes from the chart: Apple Music is indeed coming to Android (a first for the Cupertino company), but the app won’t be available until this fall. Also, Apple has yet to officially reveal the quality of the songs streamed from Apple Music, but many speculate that it will match the 256kbps AAC format that is standard on the iTunes Store, although variable bitrates based on a user’s data connection (i.e., LTE vs Wi-Fi) is also possible.
Also note that the pricing stats included in the chart for Apple Music competitors may be changing. While Apple’s individual pricing at $10 per month is in line with most other services, its $15 per month family plan with support for up to six users is significantly cheaper than the family plans offered by Spotify and Rdio, which charge $30 per month for only five users. Apple’s introduction of lower family plan pricing will likely force competitors to adjust their own pricing in the coming weeks prior to the Apple Music launch.
Beyond the technical and catalog details outlined in the chart above, each service offers its own unique advantages, such as exclusive content deals, native apps, and social features. Apple for its part touts Apple Music’s “Connect” feature, which aims to let artists communicate directly with fans via text updates, song lyrics, video messages, and more. While Connect has the potential to be an important differentiating feature for Apple Music, its true impact will only be measurable once the service has launched, particularly considering Connect’s similarity in many regards to Apple’s failed “Ping” service.
One area where services like Spotify and Rdio have a distinct advantage is the availability of a free tier. The free tiers at both services have limitations and restrictions, such as advertisements, lower audio quality, and a limited library of content, but they offer users on tight budgets an opportunity that Apple Music currently lacks. For those interested to try Apple Music, however, Apple will offer the service free to all users for the first 3 months of its availability. Following this free debut period, there are currently no plans to have a free or limited tier below the minimum $10 per month plan.
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