The Ears of Texas: Reviewing Apple Music & Spotify

The competition between Apple Music and Spotify rivals that of OU and UT, without the memes.

Story by Sarah Bloodworth

Art by Alex Guillen

When compared side-by-side, both music streaming systems cost the same, have a similar music collection size and offer a personalized radio function. Despite these similarities, Spotify has 75 million total subscribers and Apple Music lags behind at 30 million.

To end the great debate, ORANGE took to the streets at the University of Texas at Austin to ask students how they stream. All seem to agree on one thing– ads suck.


The Backstory

In 2006, Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon founded Spotify in a sweaty apartment in Sweden. Spotify spread to regions across the world, launching in America in Summer of 2011. Even with a few controversies about unfair artist bias and an unappealing logo design, today Spotify is worth around $8.5 billion. As Mark Zuckerberg famously said, "Spotify is so good."

Apple Music did what Apple does best and reached for new innovative heights. In June 2015, Apple announced its music streaming service. After a controversy with Taylor Swift about Apple's payment policy, Swift announced that by putting her 1989 album on Apple Music, it was "the first time it felt right in my gut to stream my album." According to Apple's Quarterly earnings, Apple Music subscribers have increased by 15 percent since the platform began in 2015.

The three main differences between Spotify and Apple Music can be broken down to the user interface design, social features and exclusives.


User Interface and Design

Spotify's slightly gothic green and black design turns off some users, and last year it even made Twitter users revolt when Spotify changed its logo to a brighter shade of green. Apple Music, on the other hand, portrays a mix of bright blues, reds and purples. However, its bubble-filled interface, with bubbles linking to genres and subsequent playlists, may confuse users.

"I like the list-like design of Spotify as opposed to just showing pictures, like Apple Music,” history junior Jennifer Southerland says.  “Honestly, the colors of Apple Music aren't that appealing to me. I'm just so used to Spotify's design.”


Social Features

Spotify gives users the option to follow friends, share playlists and connect to various social media platforms. Apple Music offers the “Connect” function, which shares special information with fans about their favorite bands. With Connect, users can share and comment on posts on social media platforms, but Apple Music lacks the friend-to-friend communication.

Architectural engineering sophomore Siobhan O-Casey says she enjoys gathering songs from Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist, which is generated weekly based on the user’s listening preferences. "I collaborate a bunch of Discover Weekly playlist songs onto one playlist and it's great. I find a lot of unique songs with it,” O-Casey says. “Random people I don't even know follow my playlist, and I think that's cool."



Apple Music offers special music videos, photos and general information about artists, which makes it one of their most competitive features versus Spotify. Spotify was involved in a scandal when news came out that they had punished artists who signed deals with Apple, but the story has since been revealed false.

When comparing the streaming services’ free features, Spotify offers a free non-Premium membership with ads, while Apple Music only offers a free trial.

Psychology junior Mary Nolan finds Apple Music to be more reliable because it includes the music she has downloaded from iTunes. "Apple Music not only allows me to incorporate music I already have on my iPhone, but it also has great stuff on Chance the Rapper,” Nolan says. “I don't even know if Chance the Rapper is on Spotify."

Whether you hit the PCL listening to Discover Weekly or party to your favorite artist's exclusive hits at a tailgate on Apple Music, we can all be thankful that we no longer have to pay $2 a song on iTunes or rely on YouTube videos to stream our music.