Is This Thing On? Spotify vs. Apple

Anyone who knows me could tell you that I am very passionate about one argument: Spotify vs. Apple Music. In economics, we often talk about substitutes, or completely interchangeable products. At face value, that’s what they are. Spotify and Apple offer almost identical music-streaming services. The pricing tiers, the music available, the features… so why do people choose one over the other? I am a die-hard Spotify fan, but I wanted to find out if Apple Music had any redeeming qualities. So, I swallowed my pride and signed up for the free trial, for science of course. To compare the two, I had to dig deeper.

Starting on the home page, Apple Music has a Browse page, like Spotify, which consists of today’s top hits, new releases and the top list for each genre, which Apple refers to as “The A-Lists.” All the playlists have little icons. While Spotify uses artistic photos of musicians, or perhaps a Tumblr-quality photo of a landscape to represent a certain mood, Apple has decided to use exclusively CGI animations: Imagine a bunch of little bubble-letter A’s that look like they escaped a Pixar movie. The pop icon is a shiny, pink balloon A. The hip-hop list has a diamond-studded A.

The worst, in my opinion, is the playlist “It’s Lit!!!” As someone in the age bracket that is allowed to refer to something as lit, I think it needs to be said sans-exclamation points, or maybe even a period. They’ve missed rule number one of millennialism: Don’t act like you are overexcited about anything. To make matters worse, the caption on the playlist is, “Hip-hop and R&B for the club. Our editors regularly update this playlist — if you hear something you like, add it to your library.” Yikes. The second line is actually copied and pasted on most of the Browse playlists. On the pop playlist, Apple boasts about “their editors combing through countless releases” to curate the listing. It feels almost clinical, like they’re obsessed with us knowing how much effort they’ve put into this Apple ‘side-project.’ I call it that because it seems like Apple only ventured into music-streaming to compete with Spotify. By contrast, the human touch that Spotify puts into their work is what makes the difference for me. Their playlists are sometimes incredibly niche, but it just makes you realize that maybe someone else out there is also looking for the playlist “Make Out Jams.” You can’t help but smile with captions like, “Controlling the aux cord is a privilege, not a right.”

Although I did find a couple songs I liked on Apple, I think I always prefer music shared by my friends than something force-fed to me by some massive corporation. Spotify might be doing a similar thing, but at least it feels a little more genuine. Alright guys, I hope you enjoyed this because I will definitely never land a job at Apple now. If you also get fired up about Spotify and Apple, shoot me an email letting me know what you think! 

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