I'm Stuck Between Spotify And Apple Music
On July 18th, 2011, I received an e-mail I was very eager to read. "Spotify is now available in America," it read. "How would you like to be one of the very first people in the U.S. to enjoy Spotify for free?"
On July 22nd, 2011, I was there.
I love technology, but I can only remember a few times when technology truly had me smiling from one ear to another. My entry to Spotify was definitely one of those times.
Though I had lived in Brazil for 18 years, I had always been a firm believer that I had to pay for my music. I would buy iTunes gift cards when on vacation in the U.S. and spend all year carefully spending those funds home to get the music I truly wanted. Things got easier once I moved to Florida in 2010, as I didn't have to rely on iTunes gift cards anymore, but I still had a reluctance to spend more than, say, $80 a year in music.
Spotify seemed to me like a win/win. I was now ok to spend $120/year to have all of the freaking music in the world at the touch of a button. This meant more money coming into the music industry, as many, like me, were now eager to spend more on a yearly basis. This was also fantastic for users who, also like me, enjoyed listening to several different things, as iTunes was too costly for that behavior and YouTube was too complicated for that exploration.
I was there for every single improvement that came from Spotify. I told all of my friends about it when, at the time, no one had a clue what I was even talking about. I was the biggest promoter of this Swedish company that you could ever meet. I followed their CEO Daniel Ek on Twitter and would constantly bug him about adding new songs from Brazilian artists, which at the time were mostly not there. I gave them feedback about new features, I rolled my eyes (and then learned to like) when they changed their design, and I got on board with creating collaborative playlists with friends as soon as that feature came to life.
But then Spotify didn't really change for a long time. And one of the biggest problems I had with them, persisted: I had all of these songs from iTunes that I had purchased during the course of my life, and it was incredibly annoying to be jumping back and forth between the Music and Spotify apps to listen to one thing or another. And I knew, even back then, there was a section on Spotify for Local Files where those files could be played, but it just didn't make any sense that I still had to go from one tab to another to find an older album from an artist that I wanted to listen to.
The easiest answer at the time was to just ignore every single purchase I had ever made on iTunes and download those older songs and albums on Spotify, so that they could exist alongside with those artists' new material.
Until, on June 30th, 2015, Apple Music came.
Apple Music had all of these wonderful features such as an online-only radio station called Beats 1 with Zane Lowe and Ebro Darden, exclusive streaming rights to Taylor Swift's material (which was a huge deal in 2015), a team that composed Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, playlists that were curated by music experts, etc etc.
But the one feature that killed all else for me was that, finally, a streaming service could coexist with my vast, giant, years-long iTunes library.
Just like with Spotify, I was on Apple Music the very first day it became available in the U.S. (which, in Apple's case, was the service's first day, period). I know it sounds silly, but to me it felt magical to finally have my purchased copy of J. Cole's "Born Sinner" alongside with a downloaded stream of J. Cole's "2014 Forest Hills Drive," for example. There was no hassle, no back and forth between apps, no guessing games about where my music had gone.
But then, a fact I had learned to ignore, began showing up everywhere.
Spotify was launched in Brazil in May of 2014, but it seemed like it took the service about a whole year to get traction in my home country.
Just as I was getting excited about Apple Music and its hassle-free functionality for someone like me, every single one of my friends in Brazil started to sign up for Spotify. I finally had 90% of my friends on a platform where we could all share music, make collaborative playlists, and see what we were listening to.
And it's been two years since I've been stuck on a Spotify-Apple Music limbo, where I can't really tell which service I genuinely should prioritize.
On one hand, it feels absolutely irresponsible to abandon my life-long collection of music on iTunes. Also, due to iCloud, iTunes Match, and the fact that I own an iPhone, iPad, and Macbook, it's just pretty straightforward that Apple Music is built for the devices and services I have paid for.
On the other hand, my history with Spotify is deep, the vast majority of my friends are there, and the platform's social component is currently the one to beat.
There are fundamental things about both services that I love and can't see myself leaving behind, but unlike Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, which are different video streaming services with completely different catalogs, it is redundant to pay for both Apple Music and Spotify since the companies have 99.99999% of the same stuff.
What am I to do?
I actually love, from a business standpoint, that there is fierce competition and no absolute monopoly of all users in the music streaming landscape. I guess time, if ever, will tell where my preferences land.