Music Streaming Comparison: Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal

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Apple Music has been unleashed in more than 100 countries around the world, but how does it compare to the likes of Jay-Z’s Tidal and Spotify in the increasingly crowded streaming market? Let’s take a look at how the three stand up to scrutiny.

CostApple Music is completely free for a three-month trial period, and then it will be £9.99 a month – around the same price as Spotify and Tidal Premiums. There’s also be a £14.99 family streaming offer, enabling up to six people to listen. This is similar to Spotify, which offers a 50 per cent discount applied to additional members put on an account. Unlike Spotify, however, Apple Music does not offer an ad-supporter free tier, although users of iOS can listen to some Apple radio stations, including Beats 1, for nothing and use Apple Connect without having to pay up for subscription. Tidal, meanwhile, offers a top-tier hi-fi service featuring CD-quality music for £20.

Catalogue | Apple Music fares well in this category thanks to its access to all of the iTunes catalogues. It has got the largest library, packed with around 37 million songs. It’s also powerful enough to offer and chase up exclusive album releases such at Taylor Swift’s 1989 and The Chronic by Dr Dre. In comparison, Spotify has a catalogue of around 30 million songs, whilst Tidal boasts some 25 million tracks and offers some exclusive artists such as Rihanna.

Availability and Software | When it comes to availability, Apple Music tops the streaming trio’s efforts with coverage in more than 100 different countries. Spotify currently reaches 58 countries, whilst Tidal lags behind at 35.

Surprisingly, by the autumn Apple Music will be available in the Google Play store as an Android app. This aims to ensure that it compares favourably with the likes of Spotify and Tidal, which are both available on all platforms. Tidal has recently released an improved version of what was a much-criticised piece of desktop software. Tidal and Spotify software are pretty similar – a bonus for users as it means it is easy to navigate from one to another.

Music Discovery and Radio | Most music streamers use algorithmic techniques to facilitate musical discovery, but Apple Music has hired experts, including former music journalists, to help with the continual curation of the service. The idea behind this is that it will be able to offer users curated playlists which will encourage people to get into new artists and music. Tidal also employs curation expertise, however, and is well known for offering easy access to new musical choices, while Spotify provides Discover personalised music suggestions.

Apple Music is again shunning the algorithmic ‘radio’ approach of other streamers when it comes to its radio station. Beats 1 is more like a traditional radio station, offering a 24/7 service for Apple Music subscribers and bearers of an Apple ID, with live hosts such as former Radio 1 star Zane Lowe, news, new music and interviews.