Here's the deal. I like to think of myself as the ultimate gig-goer and music lover. Above all, I love discovering and rocking out to new music. The way I currently stream music is almost exclusively via Soundcloud. Of course I'm familiar with today's more popular streaming services (Spotify, Pandora, 8tracks etc.) but like many people, I've never actively subscribed to any them.
With that being said, I'm seriously considering signing up to a premium music subscription. Why? Because I'm sick of using up all of my data to listen to music and I'd like to have the option of having it available offline - you know for those long subway rides and all.
So last night, after a hard day's work, I finally decided to look into my options. And today it seems like the options are limitless. With all the hype surrounding the battle royale between Apple Music and Spotify, it seemed like the perfect time to test them out.
First, I tackled Apple Music. [For all intensive purposes the Apple Music app was already installed on my iPad and I was quickly able to use thanks to their current 3-month free trial.]
After creating an account, Apple Music took me through its really neat bubble phase in which you pick your favorite genres and artists. That way, Apple Music can curate selections for based on your likes. This is also where things started to get complicated. Based on the genres I selected (Indie, Rock, Electronic, R&B and Dance) Apple Music took a while to generate artists I actually like. I had to refresh the "More Artists" button twice before it suggested Vampire Weekend and five times before it even suggested The Black Keys.
What real annoyed me about Apple Music however was the following:
1. Once I'd successfully completed the infamous bubble phase, the songs and playlists Apple Music chose on my behalf we're quite honestly (and for lack of a better word) meh. None of the song selected actually surprised me. While they were all songs I knew and appreciated, what I wanted was something new. The playlists on the other hand were way too short for my liking (10-12 songs on average).
2. As an avid user of Soundcloud I didn't appreciate not being able to save the songs I actually liked without having to create a playlist. (For a more in depth look into Apple Music, check out this previous post.)
Following my Apple Music experience, I moved on to Spotify. [Their current promotion offers 3 months of Spotify premium for $0.99. And no, this isn't a coincidence.]
Unlike Apple Music, Spotify does not ask you to select a certain number of artists and genres you might be into in order to suggest music. Their approach is to present your with a slew of very well curated indies from a large variety of genres and different artists. Right from the beginning it was a product I could get acquainted with much easier than Apple Music. The very first playlist I clicked on helped me discover a new favorite Petite Noir (see you at Afropunk Fest) and re-discovers old loves like Bombay Bicycle Club. As far as music discovery is concerned, Spotify was by far the superior platform. I also like how easy it was to save the songs you liked, how beautiful it looked on my iPad and the way it shows you upcoming gigs based on your location.
Here's what I didn't like about Spotify:
1. When you click on a artist you can check out their bio and albums. I didn't like that Spotify keeps tabs open of all the people I checked out. Since there were a lot of them, it felt a little overwhelming after a while.
2. To be honest, there wasn't much else I didn't like.
Ultimately, if I were to subscribe to a music streaming service today I'd almost definitely pick Spotify. Their platform is significantly more complete. Contrary to Apple Music, Spotify has created an all-encompassing platform that not only delivers a huge amount of well curated playlists based on genre, mood and everything in between; more importantly it's perfect for music discovery.
With Apple Music, it seems they might have been more concerned about everything that went along with the platform (Beats Radio, the Connect feature etc.) as opposed to the original purpose of streaming music -- hearing and discovering amazing new music.