With all the talk about Apple Music, iCloud Music Library, and iTunes interface issues, why not just switch to Spotify?
So I did.
Here’s what I found.
Spotify’s interface is complex and confusing, but no more so than Apple Music (and nothing could be as confusing as iTunes). There are some really nice elements to Spotify’s interface, some lessons Apple might consider. For example, in Spotify’s iOS app, if you press and hold on a playlist (don’t let go), a page of icons will appear, with one icon per song. Slide around and each song will start playing, allowing you to quickly get a sense of the music in that playlist.
Another thing I really like about the Spotify interface is how easy it is to push music to my phone for offline listening. Every playlist has a toggle marked Available Offline. Tap it, and the music starts downloading to your device. Easy peasy.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things that Apple Music does well, too, some things better than Spotify. I’d say, as far as pure capability, it’s a push.
Here are some other factors to consider.
The music libraries seem pretty comparable in size and quality (unless you are a rabid fan of Taylor Swift’s 1989). As far as I can tell, both services feature a library of about 30 million tracks.
Sharing is a push as well. If you are willing to share your Facebook credentials, you can social with other Facebook logged-in Spotify folks. I didn’t go down that path. But you can use the standard sharing mechanisms in both Spotify and Apple Music to share playlists.
Spotify allows you to follow curated, active playlists. Apple Music has a similar feature, described here.
But Apple Music benefits from being inside the walled garden. And those benefits start to stack up. Some of the more obvious benefits:
My music is available in Apple Music. I can mix and match, switch back and forth between Apple Music and my music effortlessly. I can build a playlist with both. With Apple Music, there’s no sense of inside and outside the garden. That said, there is the question of Jim’s lost music, an issue of trust, but one that can be safeguarded by a simple backup.
Only Apple Music is integrated with Siri. I can ask Siri to Play Prince Royce, Play Jazz, or Play Recent and I’m done. This is a big deal when I am very busy, don’t have my hands free, am driving, etc.
The Beats 1 experience is unique to Apple Music. There is simply nothing like it. I’m listening to live music that I can like and add to my own playlists. Apple has done an exceptional job here, bringing the traditional terrestrial radio experience into the data driven streaming music universe. Tying the analog old-school feel of human curation with my existing music library experience.
Though this may change, there is currently no way to store Spotify music on my Apple Watch. I can see what Spotify tune is currently playing, but there are times when I need music stored on my Watch and won’t have my phone nearby (going for a run, for example).
Family plan pricing. Apple Music’s family plan is $14.99 for up to six people. Spotify’s family pricing is $14.99 for me plus 1, $19.99 for me plus 2, $24.99 for me plus 3, $29.99 for me plus 4. That is a huge difference.
Bottom line, Apple Music has a distinct home field advantage. If Apple can find a way to unify the iOS and Mac universes, sand off the rough edges from both interfaces, and get Jim back on board (last I spoke with him, he was walking around with Spotify in his earbuds), this is their ball game to lose.
Me? I’m going to continue listening to Spotify, get to know it a bit more. Time will tell if I throw my long term lot in with Apple Music.