Spotify has just recently made their service available in South Africa – meaning South Africans now have several options for music streaming, with features that may make one or the other more preferable to certain users depending on what you’re looking for. We’re going to take a comparative look at the three services and see which ones win out where!

Pricing

Pricing is usually what makes or breaks a subscription deal, so it’s worth starting there. Spotify has a two-tiered approach: free and featuring ads, or Premium for R59.99 a month featuring no ads. Apple Music also has a two-tiered approach, although no free option beyond the month trial period: R59.99 a month for a single membership, or R89.99 for a family membership that can be used by up to six people. Google Play Music also charges R59.99 per month for a single subscription, and also R89.99 for the family plan. Comparatively, the pricing between the three is extremely similar and is unlikely to make a huge difference regarding which you should choose.

Content Library

In addition to price, the availability of in-demand content is a massive factor when it comes to choosing a service. Spotify has 30 million tracks in its library and Google Play Music has 40 million – so if you’re looking for mainstream music you’re almost guaranteed to find it on either. Apple Music does, however, have access to some exclusive rights on certain artist’s music – like Taylor Swift for example. So while the three services have significant overlap in terms of their libraries in general, there may be a small handful of current artists’ work you could only get on Apple Music.

Sound Quality

Effectively what resolution quality is for streaming video content, bitrate quality is the same thing for audio; the higher the bitrate the better the sound quality. Spotify streams songs at 160kb/s naturally – but you can opt to stream in 320kb/s for better quality. Google Play Music also streams at a maximum of 320kb/s, but Apple Music is the odd one out in that it streams all tracks at 256kb/s, although there are rumours it’s going to look into higher quality streaming as an option. For people with super-hearing, or just serious audiophiles, either one of Spotify or Google will be the preferred option, but the services are quite similar for the most part.

Features

The unique features found in each app is where the services are really differentiated, since the pricing, content library, and sound quality are roughly comparable for the most part.

Spotify’s biggest asset in terms of unique features is its incorporation of social media functions. You can share tracks to other Spotify users across social media platforms, and even create collaborative playlists with friends. It also has a ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist, where Spotify uses your habitual listening data to recommend around 25-30 new tracks for you to listen to, and it’s mostly quite accurate. So if sharing music with friends and expanding what you listen to is important to you, Spotify is the way to go.

Apple Music’s got it’s own radio station for folks who like the feeling of having a curated playlist to tap into. Before it launched New Zealand’s popular DJ Zane Lowe curated the station for Apple, leaning it towards modern and pop music. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s great for listeners of the curated genres who want a radio station feel in addition to an on-demand streaming service.

Google Play Music’s best additional feature actually has nothing to do with music, but it might still be a big draw for quite a few consumers: Your subscription gets you a YouTube Red membership. This means you get access to some exclusive content, you won’t see ads on normal videos, and a few other less eye-catching odds and ends. For any heavy YouTube user that wants a more pleasant experience, this might be a great bonus feature to have.

If you’ve been looking at getting into a music streaming service hopefully our comparison of these three options makes your choice a little easier to make. Let us know which one of the three you think is best!

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