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Amazon Music and Spotify are both reliable music streaming services, but Spotify's personalization features make it a better fit for most people

Submitted by Tech Insider on April 8, 2021 - 1:47pm

 

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There's never been a better time to jump in and commit to a music streaming service than right now. The ability to save nearly any song to your library for on-demand listening at home or on the go is a game-changer. Spotify and Amazon Music are great services in this regard and both are well worth considering.

Each platform has around 70 million songs available, along with their own set of features. Both have apps for iPhones, Android smartphones, computers, and other popular devices so you'll be able to listen in dozens of ways.

That said, there are a few differences that could make one service a better fit over the other. We compared the two across a variety of categories to help you decide which is right for you.

Updated on 4/8/2021 by Ben Blanchet: This article has been revised with updated details and features for each service.

Amazon Music vs Spotify: which is better?

Spotify may be the world's most popular streaming music service, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider Amazon Music. Both have a lot to offer in the unique features they provide. 

In fact, Amazon Music appears to be trying hard to differentiate itself in the world of streaming by offering a plan with higher fidelity tracks, along with some nice perks for Amazon Prime members. Spotify, meanwhile, sticks to standard music bitrates and streamlined subscription offerings, which could make it a more convenient solution for people who just need a casual music listening service.

Let's take a look at how each stacks up against the other in some key areas.

Feature comparison

 
Amazon Music
Spotify

Monthly cost:
Free-$20
Free-$15

Song catalog size:
Around 70 million songs
Around 70 million songs

High-fidelity music:
Paid upgrade
Coming later this year

Notable features:
X-Ray lyrics, Alexa voice assistant
Best in class playlists, podcast support

Platforms supported:
iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Web
iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Web

Pricing and plans

Amazon Echo Light

Both Spotify and Amazon Music can be used for free, but the free tiers are significantly limited and largely amount to Internet radio on mobile. As is common, both services allow for 30-day trials to test their paid versions.

Spotify plans

The paid plans and pricing for Spotify are streamlined compared to Amazon. Plans include: Free, Premium, Premium Duo, and Premium Family, and Premium Student.

Spotify's ad-supported plan is completely free. This option lets you listen to any song through the desktop app, but you do have to deal with constant ads. If you don't want commercials, you can choose one of Spotify's Premium plans. The more expensive options allow you to add more users, so multiple people in the same household can listen at the same time.

 
Spotify Free
Spotify Premium
Spotify Premium Duo
Spotify Premium Family

Monthly price:
Free
$10
$13
$15

Ad-free music:
No
Yes
Yes
Yes

Accounts:
One
One
Two
Six

Song catalog:
70 million
70 million
70 million
70 million

CD-quality:
No
No
No
No

Students can also take advantage of a discounted Premium rate of just $5 a month. As a bonus, this plan also comes with a complimentary Hulu and Showtime subscription.

Amazon Music plans

Amazon Music features a few more options than Spotify. Plans include: Free, Included with Prime, Unlimited, Unlimited Family, Echo, and HD.

Amazon Music's completely free option doesn't let you listen to specific songs on-demand. Instead it offers an experience more like streaming radio with ads.

If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you get access to an expanded music service, called Amazon Prime Music, as part of your subscription. This plan is ad-free and has on-demand access to around 2 million songs. For access to Amazon's full library of songs, however, you need to upgrade to a Music Unlimited plan for an extra fee.

 
Amazon Music
Amazon Prime Music
Amazon Music Unlimited
Amazon Music Unlimited Family
Amazon Music HD

Monthly price:
Free
Free with Amazon Prime
$8 with Prime, $10 without
$15 with Prime
$13 with Prime, $15 without

Ad-free music:
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

Accounts:
One
One
One
Six
One

Song catalog:
Select playlists and stations
2 million
70 million
70 million
70 million

CD-quality:
No
No
No
No
Yes

Music Unlimited also offers the option to restrict streaming to a single Amazon device for a reduced fee. You can give a single, eligible Echo device access to Music Unlimited for just $4 a month (instead of the standard $10).

Audio quality

Spotify and Amazon Music both provide similar quality for their free and standard plans. Music streaming is compressed to reduce size and data requirements, but most people listening on mobile devices and earbuds likely won't notice any major quality issues.

Where Amazon has an edge on Spotify, however, is with its Music HD plan. This higher priced option is designed for audiophiles and features CD-quality streaming that preserves the full range of the original recording. Some tracks are even provided in Ultra HD, which exceeds the specifications for CD-quality.

Amazon Music HD's superior quality will be noticeable for some people, but to fully take advantage of the increased sound performance you'll need expensive speakers or headphones.

Though Spotify doesn't currently offer a CD-quality plan, the service will be adding that option, called Spotify HiFi, later this year. 

Interface

spotify app

The look and feel of both streaming services is similar. Amazon and Spotify each feature a navigation bar across the bottom of their mobile apps with a home screen, search, and collected library of music.

While most people use music services through their mobile devices, both Spotify and Amazon Music do offer desktop apps as well. This is where the two experiences differ. Spotify's desktop app is decent and has been refined over more than a decade. In March 2021, the streaming service announced it updated its desktop app's interface to allow offline downloads and give "more control" for creating playlists.

The Amazon Music desktop app, on the other hand, is very utilitarian. The interface on a Mac is unintuitive and completely unlike its mobile app counterpart. For instance, the design makes it difficult to use the listening queue mechanism.

Amazon Music's web interface is better and simpler to use. In Spotify's case, it's definitely an advantage to have such a solid desktop app.

Performance and features

Amazon Music Alexa feature

On a macro level, Spotify and Amazon Music are closely aligned. For example, the catalog of songs available to listen to hardly varies at all, and any exclusives are mostly negligible. Each service does have its own set of features to set itself apart though.

For Amazon Music, its mobile app includes its Alexa voice assistant built-in. This functionality means that all music controls can be performed via hands-free voice commands. The version of Alexa accessible through the music app can also perform other skills. For example, you can ask Alexa to control smart lights the same as you would through an Echo. Spotify does offer a "Hey Spotify" feature that lets its members use their voice to find artists and songs, but its functionality isn't as robust as Alexa.

The Amazon Music app's other main feature includes X-Ray lyrics. This is a neat and genuinely helpful feature that allows lyrics to scroll by as the song plays for a karaoke-like experience. 

Merch pages are also now attached to select artists' profiles on Amazon Music to make it easier to buy their merchandise right from the Music app. Amazon Music introduced Car Mode in April 2021, as well, to provide a simplified, minimal interface for commuters.

Though these Amazon features are appealing, Spotify still has a clear edge when it comes to its great music algorithms, which the service puts to use in the form of personal playlists. "Discover Weekly" and other playlists definitely set the music service apart from others. If you don't know what to listen to, you don't have to suffer through generic radio.

Spotify also allows filters based on genres and moods. Playlists have an "enhance" button too, which can add random songs that are similar to the ones you've already included. A "recently played" option is also in the works that will allow users to look back at their past three months of streaming.

When it comes to travel and commuting, Spotify features integrations with Google Maps and Waze, as well as a dedicated car interface with big buttons to keep your music listening safe on the road.

More so than any other music service, Spotify has become a social network over the years and allows you to follow friends and easily share songs back and forth. This works well because it's the world's largest music platform and has the most listeners who will gladly click on a link you share.

The bottom line

A few years ago, the question of whether you should use Spotify versus Amazon Music was an easy choice. Now in 2021, that choice isn't as clear cut. The good news is that both services offer compelling features at reasonable prices.

Ultimately, Spotify is still the best choice for most people. While Amazon Music has a wider assortment of pricing options which may fit a specific need more than Spotify, those who just want convenient music streaming will likely be more than satisfied with Spotify's simplified offerings. Amazon Music is an appealing option for people who are already Prime members, but Spotify is a better fit if you're not interested in paying for other Amazon perks.

For the standard $10 a month price, Spotify provides a feature-rich experience that covers all you can listen to across mobile, desktop, and connected speakers. 

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