Apple Music, the new music streaming service of Apple, was announced by Tim Cook and his colleagues during the WWDC 2015 in San Fransisco in early June. What Apple offers through its brand new music service is a streaming service where you can listen to the 30+ millions of songs on iTunes, a 24/7 online radio station called «Beats 1» which will be managed by Zane Lowe and broadcast from LA, NYC, and London, and a place called «Connect» where musicians (even unsigned artists) can share demos, remixes, photos, videos, soundbites and more.
Minutes after the announcement of Apple Music, Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek posted on Twitter a comment about Apple Music saying just «Oh ok», which he deleted later that day. So as we can definitely understand, a war has just begun and we don’t know who the winner might be. So lets size everything and see what we’ve got here.
Spotify has a collection of 30 million songs and Apple Music announced a number of 30+ million but without clearing out what will include because as you might know, Spotify had to deal with major artists like Taylor Swift and Radiohead pulling out their music from Spotify due to its poor payment policy, so it would be a significant gain for Apple if their music is available to stream on theirs, despite the fact that it has just been announced that Swift’s 1989 album will not be available to stream on Apple Music for the same reason the artist decided to remove her music from Spotify plus the fact that Apple will not pay any artist during the three-month free trial period.
Here Spotify has the lead due to the fact that it offers a freemium service unlike Apple which offers a three month trial service only. Both of their paid subscription services are exactly the same price though, at $9.99 a month in US (a price in the UK for Apple Music has yet to be confirmed, but it’s expected to be the same as Spotify at £9.99). Spotify loses its lead on family pricing however, because Apple is offering up to six family members subscription for $14.99/month. At that price with Spotify you only get two family members – it rises to $29.99 for up to five people.
As Apple mentioned on the stage of WWDC, the rest of the music streaming services offer radios based on algorithms that play music according to what you listen to. On the other hand, Apple took a step (or more) forward and introduced the first live 24/7 worldwide radio named Beats 1. They’ve recruited Zane Lowe to head up the Los Angeles show, Hot 97’s Ebro Darden for New York and Rinse FM’s Julie Adenuga for London.
Music quality is very important and it might make the difference between the two music services. Apple will reportedly offer audio at 256kbps on its service, which is lower than Spotify’s 320kbps, but higher than the 160kbps offered on the freemium service. Apple Music files however are AAC format, while Spotify’s are MP3’s. It’s generally considered that 256kbps AAC files are of similar or even better quality that 320kbps MP3’s.
This is the key in dominating the market. The number of users of each service will show in a few months who will dominate the market. Apple might have 0 users now, but with the launch of Apple Music on June 30, 800 Million iTunes users will see on their screens the new service (with free three month trial), while on the other hand Spotify has 75 Million users in total (1/10 of iTunes users), with 15 million of them to be paid subscribers.
I am a paying subscriber of Spotify and a enthusiast (or fanboy, whatever) of Apple and every product or service this amazing company crates. So I am going to hold off on giving a verdict on choosing either Apple Music or Spotify for the moment, and just wait to choose after the launch of the service on June 30th after giving it a try.
Until then, take care.