By Anthony Garcia
In this day and age, it seems the world is binomial. White or black? This or that? Apple Music or Spotify? Just like everything else, these are subjective opinions. However, the reciprocity of customer care is not so subjective.
It’s clear the two major music streaming services are Apple Music and Spotify. Artists and listeners often prefer one or the other; heavily standing in support of their platform of choice. But of the two major platforms, which one loves its users more?
Whether this is judged by financial compensation to artists or user-friendly innovation, it comes down to one's own understanding of the concept of catering to an audience, which makes hearing the opinions of users, artists, and professionals worthwhile when considering this question.
Users have spent years curating playlists, building libraries, and organizing songs based on their musical needs. Many find comfortability on a particular interface and then dedicate most of their listening to that application. Musicians often use at least one of the major music streaming services to promote their music.
“My Spotify profile is so locked in place and used to my listening patterns, it's really easy for me to find a random playlist and just throw it on for the day,” said senior Dylan Lembo, a communications major with a double minor in philosophy and international studies.
Lembo as a musician is an independent streaming service advocate, and prefers to use Spotify casually.
“In my opinion, out of the two big boys, I gravitate towards Spotify more just based on user experience,” he said, “Spotify caters more to the user. People love those end of year wrap ups.”
But when it comes to supporting musicians Lembo said, “I personally advocate for Bandcamp and SoundCloud above all other streaming platforms. They are the best platforms for the artists. Even when they do take a cut, an artist can make more money on Bandcamp in a week than on Spotify or Apple Music in a year.”
Users like Connecticut-based artist Evenson Andre find that Spotify is at the forefront of innovation, pushing the boundaries of music platforms by merging ideas with the likes of modern social media networks that have continual customization features.
“I love Spotify… the look and feel of the interface. I like seeing playlists that songs can be discovered on. It has the feel of a social networking platform, allowing users to see what their friends are listening to as well as allowing group listening sessions.”
This new community feature allows users to listen to music with up to five friends who have liberty in queuing up a playlist they wish to listen into. “It just seems to me like Spotify is adapting and being one step ahead of the market while Apple Music is seemingly reacting. I’m a stickler for innovation,” he said.
Dr. Teresa Nakra, a professor of music and interactive multimedia at the College, gave her response when posed with the question of which streaming platform she thinks caters to their audience better. “I think I have to pick Spotify, because it communicates with users in a more responsive way and has been at the forefront of developing new streaming innovations and recommendation services,” Nakra said.
But when speaking about the topic of love for its users, Dr. Nakra mentioned that Apple Music is known to pay its artists more, offering exclusive deals and promotion. This is what could make a strong case for Apple Music, a brand that many have stood by since the days of torrenting services, like LimeWire, brought listeners to iTunes before its rebranding to Apple Music in 2015.
“I'm aware of the perks of both platforms. Spotify is known more so for publicity, Apple Music benefits artists more financially,” said Andre.
This is a sentiment that Dr. Nakra offered as well, saying that an argument can be made for Apple Music loving its users more as the platform does indeed pay artists better. She also mentioned that she finds Apple Music useful for quickly accessing audio files, finding herself using the platform more so than Spotify.
“But Spotify gets my vote because of its modern, user-centered approach,” she added.
It seems that Spotify’s ability to cultivate users and keep them engaged with constant innovation to the ways we listen to music has earned them a cult following, while Apple Music has decided to take the role as the better outright supporter of the artist.
“As an artist, these platforms dominate the market share,” Andre said. “So either way they’re good for publicity.”
A danger Andre discussed is that artists don't know the true worth of a stream on Apple Music or Spotify so these major streaming services “are in position to rob artists with zero consequences.”
This is a problem that is leading more and more young artists to promote their music on independent streaming platforms like SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Tidal, Napster etc.
“Streaming behemoths like Apple and Spotify are necessary evils nowadays. I think they do more harm than good, but without them, the economy behind the music industry would completely collapse,” said Lembo.
Without these two platforms at the top of the market, vast collections of music loved and celebrated would not be available.
“Behind the long waiting periods, the poor compensation and busted algorithms, they also give young artists a platform to showcase their music to a worldwide audience where they may have never had the chance to do so without it. With that being said, there’s a super grey area,” he said.
Lembo suggests supporting artists whenever possible, but to show outright support to your favorite artists he calls for audiences to support their music on independent platforms.
“if you want to truly support them, buy their music on Bandcamp — or better yet, buy a physical CD or record. Share it. Follow them online. Go to their shows,” said Lembo. “I find music to be about community building, support your favorite artists as you would a neighbor or friend.”