The Battle continues….who will end up on top?
For a period of time Spotify dominated the music streaming market. But, this was up until other streaming services entered the scene last year. It was at this point that we saw the streaming wars begin. Since then, these streaming services have been battling it out over which platform has the most subscribers, which service has the biggest catalogs, which service has the latest album exclusive and so on.
Spotify is still widely known as the ‘king’ of streaming services as it is one of the most well-established and currently has the most paid subscribers. However, since Apple Music launched in June last year there has been constant comparison between the two. Apple Music has experienced unprecedented growth and subscriber numbers have been accelerating.
So what sets them apart…and who is going to win the race to the top?
Spotify has two price tiers: a free ad-supported version and Spotify Premium which is $10 a month. Apple Music doesn’t have a free tier, and its paid service is $9.99 per month. So, there isn’t any difference in their paid options.
Though, Apple Music has a family option which outshines Spotify’s in terms of price. Apple Music’s family plan costs $14.99 a month for up to 6 users, whereas Spotify’s family plan is priced significantly higher at $29.99 per month for up to 5 users.
Both streaming services boast more than 30 million songs in their library. Though, there are some artists whose music does not exist on Spotify, which is largely due to the fact that the service has a freemium tier. Artists have famously pulled their music from Spotify as they believe that it de-values their music and that music fans should have to pay for the content that they create.
So, if you are a Taylor Swift fan or you love Radiohead, neither of their music is on Spotify, but they are both available to stream on Apple Music. There are also a bunch of other artists that you can find on Apple Music that are not on Spotify.
Apple Music has also been exclusively streaming music. For example Drake’s latest hit ‘hotline bling’ was first streamed on Apple Music before becoming more widely available, and also DVSN who are an up-and-coming band signed to Drake’s label was also exclusively streamed on the service.
Both Spotify and Apple Music have radio. Though, this is where Apple Music has the upper-hand on Spotify, as it has the integration of Beats 1 – a 24-hour, live radio station with known dj’s.
Beats 1 has in-house DJ’s like Zane Lowe, adding a more unique experience for listeners than just simply having a system that generates music.
Spotify has extensive playlists that are continuously updated, which makes discovery easy. That includes ‘Discover Weekly,’ updated every Monday with a two-hour personalized playlist, and ‘Fresh Finds,’ which includes 6 new genre-specific playlists updated every Wednesday.
Apple Music also has their own way of creating unique playlists for their users. Apple Music uses Beats to learn their users music tastes and preferences. The engine learns the users likes and dislikes and suggests new music based upon the music they choose to listen to when using the app. There is a ‘For You’ tab that populates new music of interest. Apple Music doesn’t use an algorithm for this, it uses real humans to curate the playlists.
Spotify Launched in 2008. The streaming service announced that it hit 10 million paid subscribers (40 million active users) on May 21st 2014. It then jumped to 20 million paid users (75 million active users) by June 10th 2015. The streaming platform announced that it reached 30 million paid subscribers (100 million active users) on March 21st 2016.
It took Spotify from 2008 to 2014 (6 years) to hit 10 million paying subscribers. But, once Spotify hit 10 million, subscriber growth picked up momentum and the streaming service managed to gain an extra 10 million subscribers in just over 1 year, hitting 20 million paid subscribers in 2015. It then took Spotify approximately 9 months to gain an extra 10 million – This is the addition of over 1 million paying users per month during 2015 and 2016.
This highlights that the rate at which the streaming platform is adding paying subscribers is accelerating year-on-year.
Apple Music’s growth.
Apple music launched on June 30th 2015. The streaming platform announced hitting 6.5 million subscribers on October 20th, 2015. It then jumped to 10 million subscribers by January 10th, 2016, and the streaming platform most recently announced that they hit 13 million subscribers on April 26th, 2016.
It took Apple Music just 6 short months to hit 10 million paying subscribers – a milestone that took Spotify 6 years to reach. This means that Apple Music gained over 1.6 million users on average per month in the first six months from launch. Now, the streaming platform is experiencing steady growth with the addition of approximately 1 million subscribers a month.
If both streaming services continue to add an extra 1 million subscribers on average each month, we will see Apple Music surpassing 20 million subscribers by the end of the year, and Spotify nearly reaching double that amount at nearly 40 million subscribers by the end of 2016.
Both streaming services offer great value for money. They are both priced the same, have similar-sized catalogs (though their content does vary), and both streaming services offer great music discovery for their users. In terms of Radio, Apple Music is currently a clear winner, though Spotify’s radio is also good.
If you are a family who are all using different streaming services, you may want to consider Apple Music’s family plan as it offers the best value in the streaming service market. Both streaming services are also growing significantly in terms of subscriber numbers, and both platforms have stepped up their game to better compete.
Despite the fact that Spotify has been established for longer they are more heavily reliant on funding, whereas Apple has an abundance of cash that it can inject into its streaming service at any time it wants to expand. Spotify recently needed to raise $1 billion in debt financing, which will inevitably put pressure on the company, as it often results in high-interest monthly payments.
It will be interesting to see if Apple Music’s subscriber growth accelerates to the point where it is on the same level as Spotify’s, and how long this will take for them both to be neck-and-neck.
(Image by Toglenn, Creative Commons, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, cc by-sa 3.0)
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