The three-month free trial of Apple Music, the tech giant’s streaming music service, will end soon (if it hasn’t already for early adopters). Since most music fans won’t pay $10 a month each for access to both Apple Music and Spotify — its closest competitor — many will likely pick just one to stick with.
I’ve already made my choice: I’m sticking with Spotify. Here are five reasons why.
Unlike Apple Music, you can use Spotify for free if you don’t mind ads. Apple Music lets you listen to radio stations for free, but you can’t download tracks to your library unless you buy them.
At any rate, the $10 monthly Spotify fee is worth it. Unlike the free plan, you can download favorite tracks to your mobile device without having to stream them. And if you’ve ever streamed a lot of music while on a cellular network, you know how quickly it can eat into your data plan.
Apple Music has its fans, of course. But I don’t think it will be a serious threat to Spotify, whose membership continues to grow.
After opting into the Apple Music trial, I started noticing strange things in my iTunes music library. My playlists were scrambled, with, say, jazz tracks tossed willy-nilly into a classical music mix. Worse, some tracks are no longer what they appear to be. Just one example: For some inexplicable reason, Sinead O’Connors’ “Nothing Compares 2 U” has transmogrified into a Simon & Garfunkel song.
In short, my music library — which I spent years building — could inspire the next season of “American Horror Story.”
The disaster’s roots are complicated, involving iTunes 12.2, iCloud Music Library and Apple Music. At any rate, I’m not the only one who experienced this epic fail: Forbes, among others, reported on it, and Computerworld is one site that offered a possible fix.
Apple Music merges songs you own with ones you’ve added through the streaming service. It all becomes one big music library. In fact, it’s hard to discern which tracks you own and which ones you’re borrowing via the $10 monthly fee.
While that’s convenient and cool for many, it could be painful down the road if you discontinue the service. All those playlists constructed of songs you own and ones you don’t aren’t quite as appealing in that situation (and you know Apple must love this).
I think Apple Music’s interface is confusing and jumbled — a rare, but big, design fail for the savvy folks at Apple. Spotify’s interface, by contrast, is clear and easy to navigate. Building new playlists is simple; searching for songs is a breeze.
Spotify also has a strong social media component that Apple has thus far failed to match or exceed in its music service (remember the ill-fated iTunes Ping?). It makes using Spotify more enjoyable.
Cross-posted at Software Insider
James A. Martin is an award-winning tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco. He writes about software, digital marketing, social media and SEO as well as mobile and wearable technologies. Jim is also a part-time playwright and co-author of the book "Getting Organized in the Google Era."