Spotify takes on Apple Music with new free tier

“Spotify is going all in on its free tier to take on Apple Music,” Michael Simon writes for Macworld.

At Spotify’s event Tuesday at the Gramercy Theater in New York City, “Spotify barely talked about its Premium service, which boasts some 70 million users to Apple Music’s 40 million. Instead, the focus was on Spotify’s other 90 million customers, the ones who don’t pay,” Simon writes. “And Spotify may be shifting the battle to a field where Apple doesn’t even have an army.”

“With the changes to its mobile app, Spotify isn’t just making its free tier more attractive, it’s doubling down on the things that make it better than Apple Music. And it’s bringing them to everyone. Spotify’s isn’t going after Apple Music users with a better premium offering, it’s basically offering a free sample that doesn’t have an expiration date,” Simon writes. “The biggest upgrade is with playlists. Previously, free users could only listen to playlists in shuffle mode with ads, but now Spotify is giving all users access to 15 playlists a day to do what they want.”

MacDailyNews Take: Musicians and the music industry undermine themselves by allowing their music to be streamed by “free,” ad-supported outfits.MacDailyNews, December 17, 2015

Simon writes, “The only real advantage Apple has with Apple Music (other than it being the default music app on hundreds of millions of iOS devices every year) is HomePod compatibility.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “The only real advantage Apple has with Apple Music is HomePod compatibility” and 15 million more tracks than Spotify at the same price (sans ads and restrictions). You forgot 15 million more reasons why smart people choose Apple Music over Spotify, Michael.

Tock-tock to 2nd place, Spotify. Sleep tight.

You’d have to be stupid to subscribe to Spotify when it has 33% fewer tracks than Apple Music for the same price. Apple Music boasts a catalog of 45 million songs; Spotify has a mere subset of just 30 million. Don’t be stupid. If you’re still subscribing to Spotify, it’s past time for you to cancel it and upgrade to Apple Music. (See also: How to move your Spotify playlists to Apple Music.)MacDailyNews, February 6, 2017

Analyst: Apple Music will average 40% annual growth over the next three years – April 18, 2018
Apple needs to reconsider its HomePod strategy – April 18, 2018
Apple Music hits 40 million paid subscribers milestone – April 4, 2018
Apple Music hits 38 million paid subscribers – March 12, 2018
Apple Music expands student membership pricing to 82 new countries – February 13, 2018
Apple Music poised to knock off Spotify – February 12, 2018
Apple Music was always going to win – February 6, 2018
Apple Music on track to overtake Spotify, become No. 1 streaming service in U.S. this summer – February 4, 2018
Apple Music and Spotify now account for the majority of music consumption in the UK – January 3, 2018
Spotify files for its IPO – January 3, 2018
Spotify hit with $1.6 billion lawsuit from music publisher – January 2, 2018
Apple Music passes Pandora and Spotify in mobile usage – March 29, 2017
Spotify hits 50 million paid subscribers – March 3, 2017
Apple Music surpasses 20 million paid members 17 months after launch – December 6, 2016
Oh ok, Spotify listeners are upgrading to Apple Music – July 19, 2015
Spotify CEO claims to be ‘ok’ with Apple Music – June 9, 2015


  1. MDN, you can’t deny the fact that the feature set of Apple Music is pathetic compared to Spotify: no crowdsourced playlists, crazy focus on pop-music, very narrow recommendation algorithm, no social features. Not to mention the terrible organization of albums under artists, inaccurate and slow search.

    1. Spot on. But…
      Some social features have been added, but they’re underwhelming. If you haven’t added friends, you wouldn’t notice. If you have added friends, the benefit is low. Here’s hoping it gets better.
      Also, who cares about corpus size? Who is listening to the 15M extra tracks? I don’t think those 15M songs represent any sizable portion of the playbacks. And if corpus was your primary motivation, shouldn’t you get YouTube Red which includes an order of magnitude more music, including unsigned artists, covers, and access to Google Play Music for the same price?

    2. Agree 100%. I pay for both and have a strong preference for Spotify over Apple Music. What’s bizarre is I’ve had many situations where what I wanted to listen to (I listen to obscure experimental electronic music) something and could find it on Spotify and not Apple Music. For me those 15M extra tracks don’t matter one bit as long as the music I want is available. Spotify works infinitely better in m smart home, following me from room to room and device to device seamlessly. Apple music not so much…

  2. MDN’s take is too glib. This represents a real threat to Apple Music. Free draws in customers and a certain percentage of them will end up as paying customers. It’s going to be harder and harder for Apple Music to get subscribers when they have no free tier as an enticement.

    Apple has Beats 1, which I tried to listen to early on, but it always seems that there’s always rap or hip hop playing. Music so filthy that there’s a comically large number of words bleeped out of the songs. Words cannot describe how disgusting I find such filthy music. So with Beats 1 being pretty much an all rap channel, I stopped listening.

    With the Beats 1 name, I had hopes that there would be a Beats 2 channel for those who dont like rap. Perhaps that still on Eddy Cue’s to do list.

    1. This is exactly right, what starts as free, usually, not always but probably enough to justify making some of it free are new subscribers that initially tried it free and liked it so much that they decided to pay. Amazing that the egos at Apple cannot see this or just don’t care…..whatever.

    2. If Spotify isn’t making a profit they are no threat to Apple and that includes Amazon and Netflix, Apples makes a profit they can go freeloader anytime but why should they?

  3. Apple doesn’t update their software. Why not keep adding new features to Apple Music.

    There are features that Spotify has had for YEARS that I wish Apple would incorporate.

    Very frustrating!

    Will I leave AM? No
    Does Apple care? No
    But that is typical Apple.
    Release and forget. Skate somewhere else.

    1. For example:
      On Spot, when I like a song on a created station, I can see the list of liked songs, I can manually add and delete songs that this created station is based on. No can do on AM. When I create a station on AM, I can’t see this list.

      On Spot, I can create a station based on a saved playlist. No can do on AM, only single songs with an invisible list I can see or edit for the songs I “liked” on this station.

      On Spot, I can create folders for my playlists, I can organize my playlists, I can even have a playlist of playlists. No can do on AM. Just a really really long list of playlists I have created and subscribed to, lots of scrolling to find what I want.

  4. Most companies will use whatever means possible to capture market share percentage but Apple appears to be the lone exception. Apple seems to follow a strict formula for business and doesn’t stray from that path. So far, Apple has been quite successful. I would think Spotify’s eternal free tier would be a financial drag on its streaming business even if they do get more subscribers. There are still too many leeches to suck up profits. Only Apple knows whether AppleMusic is profitable. Outsiders can only guess.

    I see no point in any business having the highest market share percentage if it isn’t profitable. I’ll admit high market share percentage must look good to the news media or analysts and maybe even investors, but for me, it’s always been about keeping the accounting book numbers in the black. Apple will never use Spotify’s business model and so there’s no need for me to concern myself about it. Apple should only try to make AppleMusic more attractive to paid subscribers and word of mouth will do the rest.

  5. Apple needs as much of a kick to the seat of the pants as possible. If Spotify, which can even resume music playback from one device to another, Mac to iPhone, when Apple’s “first-party” junk can’t, you know Spotify thinks more about design than Apple. Spotify is simpler, Apple Music hides even the love/dislike buttons behind menus, so you’re discouraged from helping its crap angorhythm learn what you like, so I get stupid lyrical songs when I like to feel the music myself, still.


  6. Spotify and my Apple devices just work.
    While I’m using spotify on my mac I’m able to change the volume with my iPhone volume buttons, even with the iPhone locked. Apple Music demands me to use iTunes (horror!) and get the remote app for iPhone ahahah what a mess!
    Plus, I don’t need 15 million more pop tunes.
    My carrier offers me Apple Music for free yet I use Spotify. Apple is way behind with Apple Music!

  7. The problem with Apple Music isn’t just the subscription business model. Apple has totally lost its way with music interfaces. The search function, the ability to play from one’s own collection, the always visible controls for shuffle or repeat play, all that stuff is a hidden mess. Playlist management on iOS is reprensible.

    Apple’s got to find a way to use the screen real estate to put the user back in control. iTunes on the Mac used to be a pleasure, Music and Apple Music on iOS always sucked.

    Hey Siri is not the answer.

    1. That’s is what happens when you get too friendly with content companies, content people don’t want easy transfer of any file that is why I don’t understand people who want Apple to become a content company.

  8. So Spotify continue to rape the artist by not paying for the free plays. Just giving the streams free without consent of the artists.
    #Spotify are crocks abusing copyrights for their own personal gain and they continue to get away with it.

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