Will its arrival spell the end of Spotify? Or is it going to flounder against the services that have already established themselves?
We pit Apple Music against Spotify in all the key areas.
1. Subscription prices
Spotify and Apple are going to go toe-to-toe on subscription prices — that’s $9.99 (or £9.99) a month. In addition Apple also offers a family package subscription for you and up to five family members for $14.99 a month; Spotify’s family plan lets you add up to four extra members to your account at half price, so it’s more expensive than Apple’s version.
2. Free music
You can use Spotify for free, up to a point: you have to sit through a few adverts, you can only access shuffled radio stations on mobile, and you don’t get the highest audio quality level. Apple Music, meanwhile, has no free tier — once you’ve worked your way through the three-month free trial then you have to start paying up or you get kicked off.
There’s been a lot of debate about royalties and streaming music of late, and Apple Music is promising to pay slightly more out to artists: 71.5 percent of revenues rather than 70 percent. With Spotify also offering adverts, it may not be quite as straightforward as that, and of course we’re not privy to the exact details of the payment deals signed by the labels.
4. Offline listening
Being able to sync your music to a phone and tablet for offline listening is pretty much essential if you’re ever out of Wi-Fi range (jogging in the park or travelling on a train), and thankfully both Spotify and Apple Music offer this feature. In the case of Spotify you need to be a premium user, but that matches Apple Music where all users are paying ones.
5. Platform support
Spotify has been around for seven years now, and has spread to all the major platforms: there are apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Windows Phone and the Web. Apple Music ticks four of those six boxes, though Android support will be delayed. As yet there’s no Apple Music for Windows phones or for Web browsers as there is with Spotify.
6. Song catalogue
Comparing catalogues between music streaming services is always a difficult task. Both Apple Music and Spotify claim libraries of around 30 million tracks, but they’re unlikely to be the same 30 million — both libraries will have different gaps, but then again both services let you import your own local audio tracks from other sources if required.
7. Beats 1
Apple has been keen to play up the importance of its new Beats 1 radio station, a 24/7 channel broadcasting to all subscribers that’s hosted by real DJs and curated by real music editors. Spotify does have a radio feature, but tunes are picked by computer algorithms based on their relationship to each other and the music you’ve listened to in the past.
8. Music tempo
One of the new features unveiled by Spotify, and something Apple Music has no answer for yet, is the ability to match your tunes against your running tempo and give you that final push you need for the morning jog. Whether that’s a key advantage over Apple Music or a useless irrelevance is up to you (and depends on how much running you do).
9. Podcast support
The arrival of Apple Music doesn’t change the status of the iOS Podcasts app, which has always been separate from the default music player. Spotify has recently added podcasting capabilities to its apps, but it doesn’t quite have the slickness of Apple’s offering — overall then, both services are more or less equal as far as podcast support goes.
10. Following artists
Both Apple Music and Spotify let you follow and connect with your favourite artists to some extent, though the feature is more prominent and more comprehensive in Apple Music. Called Connect, it allows artists to leave Facebook-style posts that fans can then comment on — it seems to be a natural development of Apple’s earlier ill-fated Ping endeavour.
11. Music recommendations
When you’ve got 30 million tracks to sift through, being able to find new music you’re interested in is crucial. Both Apple Music and Spotify recommend new tunes you might like based on your tastes, and there’s no clear winner in this department: your mileage may vary when it comes to the quality of the recommendations that are served up.
12. Sharing and collaboration
Apple Music lets you share playlists with other people, but Spotify also adds a collaborative option, letting you work on mixes with other users (for a road trip or a party for example). Apple Music doesn’t have this feature, at least not yet, one of the many smaller features you’re going to need to weigh up as you compare the services against each other.