I recently began using Apple Music. There was something to say for a native mobile app and a native-in-progress desktop app. Unfortunately, that is simply not enough on its own. Here’s why Apple Music doesn’t cut it; and why Spotify does.
Obviously, I’m in no position to discredit their opinion. But the headline had me from the start, since I’m the other way around. I prefer Apple Music to Spotify. However, there are a few things that I think Spotify still does better.
The main points in the article against Apple Music are these:
No Handoff or continuity of playback between devices.
No “download all.” option.
Search on macOS being terrible.
The quality of playlists.
Apparent previous/next button issues.
I don’t want this to come across as a “well, actually…” piece. But I would like to at least offer some perspective on these points. I can’t comment on the last point, as it hasn’t affected me, but that’s not to say bugs don’t exist.
No Playback Continuity
First off, I think I can understand the feeling towards the lack of playback continuity between devices. Spotify does do this very well. However, although Apple Music doesn’t have this feature itself, AirPlay does. From any Apple device, you can send music to another device, or control it at the source.
Although, while I’ve found Apple Music to work better in the Apple ecosystem, with devices such as the HomePod, I’ve found Spotify to work better with Alexa devices.
No “Download All”
The lack of “download all” option is bad, I agree. Ideally, there should be an option to either keep your entire library downloaded to your device. But at least a “download all” button for your entire library would work.
Even so, there is a workaround to keep your entire library downloaded, and I’ve been using it for a very long time.
The trick is to create a Smart Playlist in the macOS Music app that has rules that mean all songs are added. I have it set up to include all songs where the artist is not blank.
Once this is created, you can then set this playlist to download on any device. Then as you add songs to your library, this playlist will update, and it will download on your device.
Search on macOS
Totally agree. This is terrible. The search just doesn’t feel good at all. Sometimes you enter a query and hit enter, and just nothing happens.
Here is me complaining about this issue back in November 2021.
It’s pretty huge, and they go against nearly every point they made. I’m hugely biased as I’m an Apple fan, but to me, everything they said makes a lot of sense.
Here are some of the sections that I found the most interesting:
What Spotify is demanding is something very different. After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem — including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store’s customers — without making any contributions to that marketplace. At the same time, they distribute the music you love while making ever-smaller contributions to the artists, musicians and songwriters who create it — even going so far as to take these creators to court.
That’s a dig at Spotify already, and they also go a bit further than their complaints, by mentioning their relationship with artists.
One thing that surprised me, was their response to Spotifys claims about Apple restricting them from platforms such as the HomePod or Apple Watch:
When we reached out to Spotify about Siri and AirPlay 2 support on several occasions, they’ve told us they’re working on it, and we stand ready to help them where we can.
Spotify is deeply integrated into platforms like CarPlay, and they have access to the same app development tools and resources that any other developer has.
We found Spotify’s claims about Apple Watch especially surprising. When Spotify submitted their Apple Watch app in September 2018, we reviewed and approved it with the same process and speed with which we would any other app. In fact, the Spotify Watch app is currently the No. 1 app in the Watch Music category.
That all sounds like Spotify have actually been working with Apple successfully already.
They then went into detail on the number of free apps in the App Store, how different apps make money while Apple not taking a cut (free, ad-supported, external subscriptions, and physical good sales). They turned this at Spotify by stating that only a small fraction of their subscriptions are going through their payment platform, and that their target is to reduce that to zero. So in effect, reducing their contribution to the platform to zero.
They end with a statement about what it means to music, and also how Apple’s approach is to help grow opportunities for artists, businesses, and every person with a big idea:
We share Spotify’s love of music and their vision of sharing it with the world. Where we differ is how you achieve that goal. Underneath the rhetoric, Spotify’s aim is to make more money off others’ work. And it’s not just the App Store that they’re trying to squeeze — it’s also artists, musicians and songwriters.
Just this week, Spotify sued music creators after a decision by the US Copyright Royalty Board required Spotify to increase its royalty payments. This isn’t just wrong, it represents a real, meaningful and damaging step backwards for the music industry.
Apple’s approach has always been to grow the pie. By creating new marketplaces, we can create more opportunities not just for our business, but for artists, creators, entrepreneurs and every “crazy one” with a big idea. That’s in our DNA, it’s the right model to grow the next big app ideas and, ultimately, it’s better for customers.
We’re proud of the work we’ve done to help Spotify build a successful business reaching hundreds of millions of music lovers, and we wish them continued success — after all, that was the whole point of creating the App Store in the first place.
This is going to be really interesting to watch play out. Especially the EU court case.
There is one thing that I agree with Spotify on, and that’s the 30% cut Apple take. But I wouldn’t class that as being anti-competitive, as it’s a rule for the entire App Store. I just want it to be lower.
In general, I’m against Spotify on this one. I was unsure on a few things after the complaint was published, on things like the App Store rejections, their claim that Apple dismissed their Apple Watch app proposals, and Apple apparently not letting them on the HomePod. Apple cleared a lot of this up. And while both sides of the argument will include biases, I feel that Apple have quashed a lot of Spotifys claims.
We have always believed that competition makes us all better. It drives the best products and services for our customers. We’ve invested i a tremendous amount so developers have the best ecosystem for creating and distributing apps. You know this because Spotify has profited greatly from your use of the App Store we developed.
Our investment in the App Store is not trivial – any great retailer will tell you there is an incredible amount of effort that goes into maintaining their store. However, if a customer chooses to sign up for a digital product outside of the App Store, the developer does not pay us anything, and their content will still work on Apple devices. To imply that Spotify should not have to pay to avail itself of the benefits of Apple’s hard work, just as every other developer does, would give you a tremendous advantage over other developers. It’s simply unfair and unreasonable.
I’m completely on Apple’s side for this one.
It’s the rules that every other developer has to follow, so why should Spotify be any different? Also if Spotify aren’t using the built-in subscriptions/in-app purchases to manage the subscriptions, then what are they providing Apple? They get to use the App Store infrastructure, but they don’t want to give anything back?