A few months ago I decided to give Apple Music a shot.
I’ve been a Spotify user on and off for years. Since I DJ, I resisted for a long time and stuck to listening to music that I had downloaded over the last decade and a half.
Eventually, I went all in on Spotify. My music collection still lives locally, since it’s required for DJing using Traktor. With my job and personal life existing on 2 different laptops, it also made it easy to listen to the same music everywhere.
In our cloud based modern life, for most people, Spotify is now the way that music is discussed, shared, sourced, and listened to. Going to a party or away on a trip with friends? There’s probably a Spotify playlist in a WhatsApp group chat for you to add songs to. Spotify has slowly became the default.
So why switch?
Colly wrote up a good review that echos a lot of my feelings. But for me, there were 2 big reasons.
I’m begging people who work in Tech to try and use their products with Airplane Mode on.
Spotify must be trying to hit an API every chance it gets, because it constantly throws up an error alert when it doesn’t have network access. Although I work from home 100% of the time these days, when I take the tube and want to listen to some music, I don’t want to be told off for having no network access when I’m several metres underground.
Apple Music will happily work away without network access.
The Apple Ecosystem
I’ve been a Mac user for more than 15 years. I’ve got an iPhone, Airpod Pros, Apple Watch, and a personal 14” Macbook Pro, along with one for work. It’s safe to say I’m in deep when it comes to Apple’s products.
I started running again a few months ago with my Apple Watch providing the soundtrack. Spotify is patchy at best on the Watch. Switching from my MacBook Pro, to the Phone, and to the Watch, always caused hassle.
Apple Music has no such problems. The ecosystem provides.
Back to Spotify
I haven’t cancelled my Spotify subscription though. I still bounce back and forward between them.
There’s one main reason for that - my music taste.
It’s safe to say, my music taste is pretty weird. I mostly lean into electronic music, with a big affinity for hardcore and all its’ subgenres and off shoots. I’ll also listen to ambient and lo-fi. Or maybe even hip-hop and grime.
Spotify understands this and serves me up accurate recommendations. My Daily Mixes are segmented in a way that’s easy to understand what music informed their contents. It’s easy to pick what I want to listen to at any given moment. Discover Weekly and Release Radar are great ways to dip into unfamiliar and newer tracks.
Apple’s offering on that front is OK, with their Daily Mix equivalent of Chill, New Music, Favourites, and Get Up! playlists. I prefer deciding on the music style, rather than what mood Apple has decided that it evokes.
When I do find an artist that I like on Spotify, I’ll fire up their Artist Radio and see what else they bring me to. Apple Music has the same functionality, seemingly just a bit more hidden than Spotify. Some big name artists also have 4 playlists that Apple Music creates: Essentials, Deep Cuts, Inspired By, and Influences.
I’ll be the first to admit that most of my music isn’t that popular or well known, but the only artist that I regularly listen to that has these playlists was Aphex Twin.
Aphex Twin’s playlists
For most artists, I’m lucky if they have 1 of these standard 4.
Lastly, the Browse section of Apple Music is meaningless to me. I don’t want Pop, R&B, Soul, or chart Dance music. I’d rather some algorithm recommends me accurate stuff than a hand curated page of drivel.
I don’t care about Playlists Apple loves. I want Playlists I love.
Who the hell are all these people?
I’ll probably stick with both for now. Apple’s ecosystem helps a lot. Spotify’s continual push towards Podcasts within the same space doesn’t work so well for me and Apple keeping them separate is a nice bonus to my switch.
There’s some core things that Spotify could improve and make me go back 100%. Offline support and better predictability to switch device would probably do it.
Apple Music would really need to provide a better experience of personalisation to get me to go all in.
Published on Sunday, 16 July 2023