It’s close to a year since Spotify officially became available in the Kenyan market. Which means it’s almost a year since I became a Premium subscriber. And this article is sort of a review.
For the last year, I’ve had both an Apple Music and Spotify account. I’ve tried my best to use both as much as possible. And being someone who really enjoys music, that hasn’t been an issue.
Immediately Spotify became available I jumped on the bandwagon – paying for a whole year subscription. I didn’t feel the need to cancel my Apple Music account since I’ve been a loyal paying customer since they expanded to the market in 2016. And I felt it would be a good chance to have a conclusive first-hand comparison. The results of which are the title of this article.
I fear someone who just read the title will think I hate Spotify. Or believe that it isn’t a good platform. Nope. It is really good. It’s just that it fails in a couple of things I’m really particular about, hence the need to not renew my subscription.
Here are the things Spotify does way better than Apple Music:
- The Spotify App is available across almost every device imaginable. I have it on my TV, on my Mac, on my phones, on my tablet.
- Spotify is also available on the Google Home smart system. So if you have a Google Assistant Speaker, you easily say play something and it works.
- The Spotify App loads easy across all devices. Unlike the Apple Music app which is heavy, sometimes laggy, and sometimes quite annoying when you try to cast something.
- Spotify connect is magic. From any of my devices with the App installed, I can control whatever is playing. So I don’t have to use my TV remote if I’m playing something on TV. Any of my devices, including my Google Home can easily control and switch whatever is playing.
- Spotify is a one-stop audio platform. So you not only get music, you also get podcasts.
- Spotify actually curates local music into really nicely done playlists. You feel that this is something done by an actual listener. Apple Music doesn’t have many local playlists.
- Spotify knows how to make data look beautiful. The yearly Wrapped campaign beats anything else any app has ever done with our data.
With all those positives, why would I want to stop giving them my money? Well, it’s because of a couple of things. The first one of course being audio quality.
Here are the things that make Apple Music better than Spotify for me:
- Audio Quality – Apple offers lossless quality streaming at no extra cost. The app also supports Dolby Atmos. There are badges on songs telling you that you’re listening to something in Lossless Quality, or if it’s a certified Apple Digital Master track, or if it’s in Dolby Atmos quality. This is something Spotify is yet to implement. We’ve even done a blind test to prove Apple Music just sounds miles better.
- Music recommendation – This is a funny twist. In 2017, I wrote an article saying Spotify offered way better recommendations. That was before Spotify was available here. And at that time, that was quite true. Apple Music was boring. But things have really changed. There are way more customised and personalised playlists. The algorithm really knows you, and what you like, and what you may like. Meanwhile Spotify is stuck in the past with the same approach that’s just not working for me right now as you’ll see in point 3.
- Local Music – Apple Music does local music a little better. Yep. Funny. But true. While yes, there are many local playlists on Spotify covering all Kenyan genres including Gengetone, the big problem is these tracks don’t appear in their international playlists. On Apple Music, a growing number of international playlist includes local artistes. And I love that. It’s not yet perfectly done, but it’s better. So I don’t need to feel like playing an international playlist means not supporting local artistes. BoomPlay remains my favourite platform for local music.
- Discovery – There’s a time I believed discovering music worked way better on Spotify. A year of use later, I don’t think so. I don’t even have a single example to point out, I just feel so. Apple Music’s browse section shows not only new music from local artistes, but also continental and international artists. The featured categories really push local artistes. You have daily charts based on steaming numbers locally and in different countries where Apple Music is available. You also have City Charts for different cities across the world. It’s so easy to find new music as everything is so well arranged.
- Clutter – It’s easy to read the last point and fear Apple Music may be cluttered. But that’s not the case. Instead, Spotify is what feels cluttered. You may not want to listen to a podcast at a certain time, but that’s what’s being recommended when you open the app. The recommended section never seems to realise you don’t want what’s being recommended, so as to refresh to something different. The search section though well-arranged doesn’t breakdown things in ways you’ll easily get a category you want. Yes, Spotify goes for a simple look, but in actual use things feel cluttered for me. Which is a contradiction.
- Infinity Playing – Both platforms support this. But Apple Music does it better by not only including a button to help you get into Infinity playing mode, but by also having really good algorithms suggesting actually related music, and shifting over time to what it believes you love.
- Radios and Stations – This is a feature that’s so well done. Under the radio tab, you can jump to different shows around different genres. These are real shows hosted and available for listening either live – or pre-recorded. There are also shows hosted by different creators and artistes, including interviews, playlists and much more. The best bit is whenever you’re listening to a show, it is so easy to see the song that’s playing, like it, or add it to your library. There are also algorithm-generated stations that work like playlists. My favourite radio is the Africa Now Radio.
- So much more – Cool moving album and playlists covers, weekly updated playlists just made for you, customised throwback playlists and much more.
These advantages are the reason I don’t see the need to renew my Spotify subscription. I will for sure miss the magic of Spotify connect, and the ability to quickly play music on any device. More so, I’ll miss the local playlists that you feel are for sure curated by local listeners.
This article is basically me weighing out the good vs the bad of each platform and deciding which one just works best for me. You may have a different view, please let me know.
The good thing is Spotify has a free tier. I’ll keep using that. If things change, I will for sure test them out, and weight if it’s worth coming back to being a paying customer. I have a lifetime membership on Pocket Casts, so I won’t be missing out on Podcasts.