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Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Google Play Music Which is the best?

While there are a plethora of music streaming services out there, there are three main ones that stand out above the rest:Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music. The others, like TIDAL, Grooveshark, Rdio and Deezer, have either fallen by the wayside or failed to take off.

Obviously, these three services are competing with each other, almost on equal terms. The problem is that you'll only want one, unless you're made of money, so let's see which one you should pick. After all, each one has its pros and cons.



Spotify offers three tiers:a free tier, a Premium tier for $9.99 per month, and a Premium tier for $14.99 per month for families.

The free tier is ad supported. Features such as song selection, skipping tracks, and saving music for offline listening are limited or locked compared to the other levels.

The Premium tier is what you consider to be Spotify proper. For $10 a month, you get unlimited access to the Spotify catalogue, the ability to save tracks to the mobile apps for offline listening, and the warm feeling that you're rooting for your favorite artists.

The $14.99 Family Premium tier is the same as the regular Premium plan, except you and up to five family members get accounts for a fraction of the price it would cost if you all signed up individually.

At one point, Spotify offered a half-price discount to students, but appears to have removed that option. The link now only redirects to your home page.

Apple Music

Apple Music has three plans:a $9.99/month regular plan, a $14.99/month family plan, and a $4.99/month student plan. Instead of offering a free tier, Apple Music offers a three-month free trial. After that you will have to start paying.

Apple's normal level is just what you'd expect. For $9.99 a month, you get access to their entire library, all the apps, and everything that comes with the service.

The family plan is the same as Spotify. For $14.99 a month, six people (including you) can get unlimited access to Apple Music from their own accounts.

Unlike Spotify, Apple Music still offers a student plan for $4.99 a month. There are some catches though. First, it's validated so you can't claim to be a student and still get the discount. Second, you are limited to 48 months, after which your account will automatically switch to a normal one.

Google Play Music

Google Play Music only has two tiers:a free one and a $9.99/month plan. Its two levels are very similar to Spotify levels..

On the free tier, you are limited in how you use the service and have to listen to occasional ads. In the Premium level you get full use of the service.

I couldn't find offers for students or families.

Winner:It's a three way tie!

The winner here is hard to call. If you're just signing up, all three services are priced the same. If you are a family, you must go with Spotify or Apple Music. If you are a student, then Apple Music offers you the best price. Finally, if you don't mind limitations and just want to listen for free, you should choose Spotify or Google Play Music.



Not all music files are the same. The higher the bitrate of a file What is bitrate and why is it important? [MakeUseOf Explains] What is Bitrate and why is it important? [MakeUseOf Explains] With today's technology, we can expect massive amounts of speed and quality with everything we do on our computers, our smartphones, and any other recent device. However, while this increase in speed and quality... Read More However, once you reach a certain point, you'll need superhero ears to tell the difference between different tracks.

Spotify streams tracks at 160kb/s by default, but you can turn on an option to stream them at 320kb/s. This is the point where, at least on standard audio equipment, it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between a compressed file and the original.

Apple Music

Apple Music is rumored to launch a high-quality streaming service, but at the moment, all tracks are streamed at 256kb/s. For most people listening with computer speakers or Apple headphones, this won't sound any worse than Spotify's higher bitrate tracks. If you have good headphones or proper audio setup, there's a good chance you'll hear a difference.

Google Play Music

Google Play Music also streams tracks at a maximum of 320kb/s. If your Internet connection does not support that speed, they will be transmitted at a lower bit rate.

Winner:Spotify and Google Play Music

Spotify and Google Play Music stream at 320kb/s. If you really care about audio quality, go with one of them. The only major service that offers a better bitrate is TIDAL, which is, in many other ways, terrible. Is Jay Z Tidal Music Worth Listening To? Is Jay Z's tidal music worth listening to? Jay Z's TIDAL release didn't impress us. Now, a year later, we thought we'd check if TIDAL is worth using... Read More Unfortunately.

Apple Music may soon offer high-bitrate streaming, in which case this point is moot. Until then, the tracks are slightly worse, but most people won't be able to tell the difference.



Spotify has more than 30 million songs in its library. That's a lot more music than I could hear in 1,000 years. 6 Things You Can Learn From The Year In Spotify Music 6 Things You Can Learn From The Year In Spotify Music. Spotify released its Year in Music for the year 2015. It breaks down the music you listen to. heard during the past year, and much more besides, that is yet to be discovered. Read more . Assuming each track is three minutes long, that's over 170 years of non-stop music.

More importantly, Spotify has most of the tracks that are popular right now. Things have gotten a little messier thanks to a few artists releasing exclusives on Apple Music or TIDAL, but for the most part, if you want a popular song, it'll be available on Spotify.


This is where Apple Music shines. Some great artists like Taylor Swift (who Apple has had a love-hate relationship with Why is Taylor Swift wrong about Apple Music? Why is Taylor Swift wrong about Apple Music? Music. But she's wrong Again Read More) are not available on Spotify or Google Play Music. The main reason for this is that they object to the free tiers offered by the other services but which Apple has rejected.

Aside from Taylor Swift, Apple's catalog is just as ridiculously large as Spotify's with massive amounts of overlap.

Google Play Music

It's the same deal with Google Play Music. Most acts that offer their music to streaming services put it on all of them. Google Play Music's catalog is as large as its competitors.

Winner:Apple Music

While all the services have some exclusive acts, Apple Music has the biggest and best. Taylor Swift is the biggest pop star on the planet right now (with the possible exception of Beyonce) and her presence gives Apple Music the upper hand.

For anyone who doesn't like Tay Tay (heathens!) there won't be much difference which service you use. While there are some minor variations between different libraries, for the most part you won't even notice. If a particular act you love is missing from a service, check out the others and see if they're there.



Additional features is where these three services really start to differentiate themselves.

Spotify has their phenomenal Discover Weekly playlists. Discover new music with automatic Spotify playlists. Discover new music with automatic Spotify playlists. Spotify has recently launched new ways to generate unique playlists that will help you discover amazing new music. We are here to walk you through these auto playlist makers. Read More Every week with Discover Weekly, you get 30 or more new songs to listen to. Spotify uses its massive amount of listener data to curate listeners for you, and it works really well.

Spotify also has great social features. You can share tracks to any social media service, send them directly to other Spotify users, and even create collaborative playlists.


Apple Music's biggest additional feature is the Beats 1 radio station. Before Apple Music launched, it hired Zane Lowe to curate the station. If you like the nostalgia of listening to a proper radio station, then Beats 1 might be a great feature for you. Earlier, we took a deep dive into Apple Music Introduction to Apple Music:What You Need to Know Introduction to Apple Music:What You Need to Know After buying Beats last year, Apple finally launched its streaming music service. the world. Read More The music definitely tends towards modern pop songs.

Google Play Music

When you sign up for Google Play Music, you also sign up for YouTube Red. Is YouTube Premium worth paying? 7 things to consider Is YouTube Premium worth the money? 7 things to watch out for YouTube Premium is making headlines and buzz, but is the paid subscription service really worth it? We look at the facts to help you decide. Read more . You get access to original YouTube content, no ads on regular videos, and a few extra bits. If you watch a lot of content on YouTube, this could be the deciding factor.

Winner:It's a three way tie!

Once again, it depends on what you are looking for. Spotify's playlists and social features are best for pure music fans. If you like the ease of having a radio station and don't have to worry about deciding what to listen to, then Apple Music and Beats 1 are a good option. Finally, if you watch a lot of YouTube videos, Google Play Music might be right for you.

The final verdict

When I sat down to write this article, I intended to come to a clear verdict, but the truth is that Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music offer pretty much the same service. There is very little to choose between all..

For whatever advantage a service has, it also has a disadvantage. Spotify is the purest music experience, but it lacks the popstar credentials of Apple Music. Apple Music might be the cheapest for students, but it doesn't have a free tier like Google Play Music for those on a budget. And Google Play Music is a great service, but Google has an unfortunate history of killing beloved products, so maybe don't get too attached.

The easy answer to this conundrum is that there is no wrong decision. Music Streaming is the Future The End of Ownership:Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation The End of Ownership:Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation Streaming media is convenient, but you're giving up something important:owning digital media. Read More Therefore, you can confidently sign up for the one that best suits your needs.

What music streaming service do you currently use? What made you choose that over the competition? Why do you think he is the best of the group? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.