By Jarod Todeschi
The best thing that comes with being a student is the discounts. The .edu that comes with first year status unlocks a trove of different price cuts. A favorite among many is the half-off tag for streaming services Spotify and Apple Music. The competitive duo run the same price, $4.99 per month with the student discount, but regularly $9.99. Spotify holds cultural dominance, and also proved the more popular among Bearcats with 81% of polled community members preferring the service.
Spotify has had a head start. Launching in 2008, the Swedish company is available in 65 markets worldwide. Apple Music is still relatively new, entering the market in 2015. An article from The Verge, published the week of Apple Music’s announcement stated, “the company [Apple] revolutionized digital music with the iPod and iTunes, but is now playing catch up, trying to align itself with the current era of subscription offerings.”
Spotify only offers a trial period of 30 days compared to Apple Music’s three months. However, Spotify has a free tier for all desiring users, though it contains certain limitations and includes advertisements.
Sophomore Connor Crowley commented on his personal experience with the streaming services.
“I paid for Apple Music for a month after using the free trial just because I was using iTunes,” he said, though the inceptive service couldn’t keep his interest for long. “It wasn’t super user friendly and didn’t have very much music so I stopped paying for it. Then I got Spotify because a lot of people suggested it and its chill!”
While Crowley eventually switched to Spotify, its the service where I first redeemed my student streaming subscription. I liked a lot of the features, but started to feel like I needed to try Apple Music and make a more informed decision. After I swapped and enjoyed the three month free trial, I found myself back with Spotify once again, and then again with Apple Music some time after that. A continued inability to decide has had me changing between the services about twice per year for one reason or another.
Spotify also has an underutilized social element, where one can follow friends profiled by their listening habits. I find myself enjoying the feature as a spectator, intrigued by what others have playing. The private mode is also available, made for guilty pleasure listening that excludes your selections from a public list of friend activity.
Apple Music ranks a distant second place among the Willamette community with 12 percent preferring it to Spotify. Junior, Denise Diaz identified as one of those individuals, saying similarly to Crowley, “I have always used Apple Music because of iTunes.” She further confessed, “I just purchased Spotify last semester, so I actually pay for student subscriptions to both,” revealing we shared an indecision in committing to one over the other.
Diaz developed on her double status, explaining “Spotify is easier to access, especially if you’re not an Apple user,” referencing its web available interface, whereas Apple Music is exclusive to the iPhone.
Personally, my favorite feature on Apple Music is a daily collection of albums to swipe through that the app recommends. When you first use the service, the process of listing the artists you enjoy is more fun of a feature than it needs to be, and helps aim the suggestions toward what you like. I found it true that Apple Music is harder to get to know than Spotify. The queuing option being particularly difficult to find, which pops up in a menu after holding down on a specific song.
The remaining 7 percent of polled Willamette individuals either do not use a music streaming service or use one other than Spotify or Apple Music. Other popular services might be Pandora or Tidal. Pandora allows one to curate radio stations based on the user’s interaction with a thumbs up or thumbs down option with every track it plays for you. Tidal is for more serious and technically interested music listeners, offering two levels of “high fidelity sound quality,” according to the official website. The service recently lost three CEO’s within a two year window, but offers exclusive access to releases from artists like Beyonce, Kanye West and Jay Z, the last of whom owns the company.
When the student discount door closes, Crowley plans to level up his loyalty. “I’ll probably find some people to get the family plan with,” referencing the family subscription option also offered by both services, which can be split by three for full amenities at $14.99 per month.
When Diaz can no longer rationalize her double subscription as the two-for-one deal it is, she will stick it out with Apple. “I think I would probably keep Apple Music because it’s all there for me on my cell phone, all of my playlists are there,” she stated. Highlighting the one compromise that only Spotify could satisfy, she continued, “I won’t be able to see what my friends are listening to but that’s okay with me.”