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The elephant in the room

Standing Pat on Spotify vs Apple Music?

Of my multitude of musical friends, Pat is one who’s perspectives on music I listen to very often. We grew up together, played in bands together and have always shared a special bond as we’ve moved through life.

So it was no surprise that Pat had much to share after reading my recent blog post about Spotify. His perspectives in reply to my Facebook post about this blog were so comprehensive and captured so well the pros and cons of Spotify, that I felt that they deserved to be re-broadcast…


So I signed up for Google’s Play Music service a couple of years ago. At the time, Google had the highest payout of all the services available, at $0.0179 per play. Also, Google allowed you to upload files from your personal library, so if there was an artist or an album they didn’t have as part of their library you could add yours for your own personal use.

Just a little bit ago Google announced they were merging Play Music with YouTube Music, so effectively the service is shutting down. On top of that, over the past couple of years Google has been paying out less and less to artists and are currently at $0.00611 per play.

So, I’m shopping around for a service to move to. My choice is between Spotify and Apple Music. Spotify pays artists $0.00397 per play, where Apple Music pays $0.00783 per play. Apple Music doesn’t offer a free tier, which might explain why they can pay so much more. Also, they have all the money in the world and could be operating Apple Music as a loss leader to sell more iPhones, iPads, iPods, and computers.

Spotify, as you know, has a very nice UI (user interface), an amazing recommendation AI (artificial intelligence), and all the great social aspects. It’s certainly the industry standard for streaming services. Currently Spotify has a 51.51% market share.

Apple Music has horribly UI, an adequate AI, no real social aspects, and continues Apple’s reputation of being a walled garden. They do, however, have a much larger library, at least of more major label artists and their catalogs (for instance, Apple has the full The Clash catalog plus albums of out takes, B sides, rarities, and other unreleased material, where Spotify only has the studio releases). Apple has also been petitioning for an industry-wide minimum cost per play for artists. The cynic in me, however, feels this is a play to quash Spotify, who doesn’t have the deep pockets to pay artists more and stay in business, where Apple can ride it out for decades if need be, rather than actually trying to ensure better deals are made for artists. Currently, Apple has a 22.29% market share.

So, do I pick Spotify for the nicer experience, but pay the artists less money, or do I got with Apple Music, which would be a decision made only on wanting to pay the artists more, as I really hate their UI.

Anyway… that’s where I’m at, Pat.

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