A Guide to Music’s Streaming Giants: Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, & TikTok Music
Looking to find which streaming service works best for you? Check out Billboard Philippines’ comprehensive guide on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and YouTube Music to discover what platform you’re in perfect tune with.
In today’s digital age, streaming has become the new norm for music accessibility.
Beyond being a cost-efficient option for many of us, streaming gives us a near-unlimited access key to all our favorite music at our very own fingertips. With its accessibility also comes a variety of features, formats, and platforms that many of us users have to choose from.
Before, the options were more limited, with Spotify being the prime and leading example in this specific field. However, with the ever-changing state of technology and people’s demands, the game has now changed –– with multiple players entering the battle for who can take the crown as the best streaming platform in the game.
To guide you through the process, Billboard Philippines is here to dive in and explore each of the following streaming platforms to help you decide which one is best suited to your personal preference.
1. Apple Music
Though launched in 2015, it’s only as of late that Apple Music rose to prominence as a serious competitor in the music streaming platform wars. Exclusive to iOS users, the service has become a convenient favorite for those who primarily use Apple products in their daily lives –– considering how well it pairs with Apple’s AirPods product line.
- Php 139.00 Per Month/Individual Plan
- Php 219.00 Per Month/Family Plan (Up to 6 Users)
- Php 75.00 Per Month/Student Plan
- Hi-Res Lossless Audio Quality: With this feature, Apple Music is the perfect haven for audiophiles or discerning listeners looking for the highest resolution for streaming. Though the standard of the service is Lossless audio (16-bit/44.1 kHz, equivalent to the quality of listening to a CD), it also provides Hi-Res Lossless audio at 24-bit/192 kHz –– which is objectively the best form of audio across all streaming platforms.
- Spatial Audio via Dolby Atmos: Apple Music’s unique feature amplifies streaming into an atmospheric, immersive listening experience.
- Perfect Pairing with Apple’s AirPods Series: When using any AirPods product, the aforementioned features work extremely well to heighten one’s way of listening to music.
- 100 Million Songs in Apple Music’s Catalogue: Offers a wide selection of artists, genres, and more.
- Exclusive Video Content & Interviews For The Platform: Aside from being able to view & download music videos and some exclusive live performances (Apple Music Live), there are also radio shows such as Apple Music’s Zane Lowe Show which is a must-watch/listen for anyone interested in discovering the process behind an artist’s musical work.
- “Sing!” Feature: This latest feature can isolate a song’s vocals from its instrumentals, which is perfect for spontaneous karaoke parties with friends on the road or at home.
- Shareplay Feature: Allows for music to be shared in a livestream listening party across FaceTime calls.
- Student Plan is inclusive of Apple TV+ Membership (valued at Php 369/month!)
- Very bang for your buck value!
- User Interface: Takes a while to get used to and is not the most aesthetically pleasing upon first impression.
- Playlist-Building: A bit more complex and complicated as compared to other platforms
- Slower Processing Time: Loading takes a few seconds more than other platforms
- Underdeveloped Social Features
- Song Radio Feature: Not as intuitive as others when it comes to suggesting new music for users to discover, as it may recommend options unrelated to the user’s taste
- Mainly Optimized For IOS Users: Though available for Android and other operating systems, it does not run as smooth when compared to IOS users.
- No Free Plan: Only paid subscription services are available, though a 1-month free trial can be availed of.
Widely recognized as the most popular platform across all sorts of devices, Spotify is an easy choice for those dipping their toes into the world of music streaming. Its brand recognition is perhaps the strongest of them all, with its name being used as a popular verb in modern vocabulary. Since the application rose into prominence in 2014, Spotify has retained its mainstay as the go-to streaming application for many musical fans and listeners all across the world.
- Php 149.00 Per Month/Individual
- Php 239.00 Per Month/Family Plan (Up to 6 Users)
- Php 75.00 Per Month/Student
- Broadest Overall Catalog: With over 100+ Million songs in addition to the 5+ million podcasts in Spotify’s library, it’s a tough feat to beat the surplus of content that the platform offers its subscribers.
- Supports More Platforms: Highly compatible with iOS, Android, and other operating systems on any device. Both mobile and desktop applications run smoothly without little to no issues present.
- Seamless User Interface: Even if it’s your first time using Spotify, it’s easy to get the hang of it in no time. The interface was made as accessible as possible for all, so whether or not you’re into technology it wouldn’t be too much of a struggle to navigate the system.
- Helpful In Discovering New Music: The in-app “Discover Weekly” and “Made For You” playlists are curated based on your musical taste by the platform’s algorithm. The latest feature, Spotify’s “AI DJ”, features an enhanced version of such features which should be useful for listeners.
- Varied Podcast & Audiobook Library: No matter what topics you find yourself interested in, Spotify’s podcast and audiobook library have so many options that are worth checking out. From cooking, celebrity culture, fashion, food, film, music, and more –– there’s just about any podcast to pique your interest.
- Brand Authority: When looking for the best songs trending at the moment, one of the trusted sources that people look to (aside from Billboard’s own charts) would be Spotify’s Top Hits. Encompassing music on a global scale, it’s a reliable list that’s perfect for musical tastemakers.
- Near-Perfect Playlist Building Experiencet: Looking to curate your own mixtape? Of all the apps here, it was through Spotify that we had the easiest time building the perfect playlist. Its fast and smooth interface allowed us to add songs conveniently and also helped us discover even more fitting additions with the ‘Enhance Playlist’ feature that the platform offers.
- Great Social Features: Spotify makes it easy to connect with people who share like-minded musical interests. Whether it’s your Facebook friends or complete strangers, the social features of the app allow users to establish musical relationships with their peers. “Spotify Blend” and “Collaborative Playlists” are already favorites among their users, but the latest “Jamz” feature offers an intriguing new way of honing in on the social aspect of music. Even the year-end “Spotify Wrapped” is a fan-favorite that allows users to share what music they’ve had on rotation for the past year to their desired audience.
- Equalizer Feature: For those who like tinkering with their auditory experience, this feature is a great way to personalize the way you listen to your music. Users can choose fixed presets or adjust things to their preferences to see what works for them when it comes to their audio.
- Offers a Free Plan: Though it has ads played in between tracks, the free plan offers a convenient and accessible way in which users can familiarize themselves with the service before fully committing to a paid subscription.
- The sound quality is decent, but not audiophile-worthy: At a maximum of 162kbps (depending on your device), Spotify’s audio quality can come off as flat at times. Even when adjusting your settings to the ‘Very High’ option, it still falls behind the standard quality of Apple Music’s Lossless audio.
- Spotify Hi-Fi Plan is available, but at a more expensive price: To achieve the sound quality of Apple Music’s Lossless audio, there is a premium payment and subscription that you would have to pay in addition to your subscription.
- Not much video content is currently promoted on the platform, with most being short-form videos only.
- The absence of the Spotify x Genius feature: Still a missed presence even after all these years!
- Music Discovery is a double-edged sword: Suggested songs are sometimes limited to what you listen to, but it doesn’t go beyond what is there.
3. YouTube Music
YouTube has been known as the leading video-sharing platform since the early days of the internet. But when it comes to music streaming, it’s a relatively new player on the scene –– having been relaunched numerous times until it became its current iteration as Google’s main brand for music streaming in late 2020. While it aims to retain the elements of what made its original counterpart an important staple of the online world, there are aspects both new and unfamiliar to its music platform that are very much worth checking out.
- Php 129.00 Per Month/Individual
- Php 199.00 Per Month/Family Plan (Up to 6 Members)
- Php 65.00 Per Month/Student
- Extensive Library of 70 Million Tracks: Their library includes covers, live performances, remixes, and even meme songs that you can add from YouTube to your playlists! YouTube Music has special software that detects anything music-related from its original platform, which is what allows it to be on the application
- Offers a Free Plan: Similar to its video platform, YouTube Music offers a free plan with the presence of advertisements.
- Music Videos are included: YouTube Music offers access to both official and unofficial music videos, which can be toggled on/off at any time depending on the user’s preference of choosing between Audio Only or With Visuals mode.
- Radio Builder Feature: One of the app’s latest features allows users to build their own radio station with their selected artists and suggested options based on their preferences.
- Explore Feature Connects To Your Main YouTube Account: Whatever personalized content you consume on your main YouTube account is translated into the suggestions on your YouTube Music profile.
- Unlike main YouTube, YouTube Music can play in the background even with it’s videos.
- Playlist Sharing is Accessible: Playlists created on the platform can be shared with anyone, even with those who aren’t subscribed to the YouTube Music service
- Current Interface Is User-Friendly: YouTube Music’s current interface is visually similar to that of Spotify, which is easy to navigate, especially for those migrating from other services.
- Cross-Platform Availability: Like the main YouTube, the service is available across all forms of operating systems, such as IOS, and Android, and even to other devices that are not mobile.
- Lackluster Streaming Quality: Though it offers a variety of settings for one’s preferred streaming quality, even their highest setting fails to compete with Apple Music & Spotify’s most basic options.
- Little to no podcasts, audiobooks, or radio shows available in YouTube Music’s library.
- Algorithm for Music Recommendation: Though one would expect the algorithm to be as good as it’s parent platform, it’s sadly not as consistent or intuitive as Spotify despite knowing your preferences from YouTube.
- No Designated App on Desktop Platforms: It might seem like a minor issue, but YouTube Music is dependent on web browsers for desktop users which makes it load much slower than its competitors. This also prohibits downloads for desktop users.
- Though the interface is currently similar to that of Spotify, it’s known to change as the app undergoes changes and updates constantly without warning.
- Poor Marketing: Without being highly marketed, there is not much brand awareness for the platform here in the Philippines, if there’s any at all.
- Not available in all markets around the world as of yet.
4. TikTok Music
TikTok is one of the biggest social media platforms at the moment, so their entry into the music streaming wars is no surprise at all. Though it’s currently unavailable here in the Philippines (as of the time we’re writing this), here are the details (both good & bad) that we know so far of the elusive streaming platform to prepare you for what can be expected from this application.
Price Point: (May not necessarily apply to the Philippine Market)
- USD 8.99/Per Month
- USD 18.99/Per Month (Up to 6 Members)
- USD 5.99/Per Month (Student Plan)
- Social Features: In its early stages, TikTok Music is planning to become the most social streaming platform among all the rest. Users can like and comment on the track that they want to share their thoughts on, which also plays a part in helping the platform curate its social media algorithm. This very much helps in finding like-minded users who you can connect with as well!
- Extensive Library: TikTok Music’s vast selection of musical content is comparable with that of platform heavy-hitters like Spotify, which offers plenty of room for users to explore and search around for what they make like.
- Playlist Building: TikTok Music promises to make the playlist-building experience better, thanks to the community nature of the app. Users can easily discover which playlists certain songs are being placed into, and collaborate on them with one another.
- Familiar Interface: Controlling the music is as easy as going through your TikTok FYP. Just a few scrolls and you can get where you’re heading to!
- “Shazam” Like Feature: Perhaps the most interesting of their features, TikTok Music has its own take on getting song snippets to determine what the full song is and who the artist of the track is –– similar to the popular application “Shazam.”
- Lyrics are included: Unlike Spotify’s new updates which remove lyrics from the most basic membership plan, TikTok Music has them right from the get-go, available for anyone who wants to sing their hearts out.
- Unavailability in Multiple Regions: The slow rollout of TikTok music is one that only a number of countries have had the privilege of testing.
- The algorithm needs improvement: One would expect TikTok Music’s algorithm to be the best of all streaming platforms, given how tailored our TikTok feeds seem to be. That’s not always the case for TikTok music, which still needs to better it’s suggestions for what can be recommended and suggested for every user’s unique music taste.
- Tracks don’t showcase TikTok streams/play: You’d think that TikTok’s own streaming platform would be able to tell you which tracks are getting viral at the moment on their parent platform, but sadly that’s not what’s happening here. Users have noted their disappointment at the absence of this feature, as isn’t the reason why TikTok Music is there to tell us which songs are trending and played the most?
- Music Videos are not in sync with Audio: Unlike YouTube Music’s feature of a seamless transition between audio mode only and with visuals on their platform, TikTok Music’s take on this is not as polished at the moment. The music is not always in sync with the videos presented, which can frustrate users who bother even trying this feature.
- Audio Quality is alright: Though not the worst of the streaming platforms, the audio quality falls on the average scale which could be improved upon given the service’s price points.
- Price Point: Based on what we know from other countries, the price point of TikTok music seems to be the most expensive of them all. However, the final price range that will apply to the Philippines has not yet been revealed nor finalized, so we’re hoping it can be around the competitive prices of the other platforms mentioned above.
- Beta Stages: Though not necessarily a con, TikTok Music being in its beta stages leaves a whole lot of improvement that could make it truly stand out among all the rest. Here’s to hoping once it rolls out in the Philippines, we’ll be able to get the most out of this promising platform.
So what streaming platform is the best?
Well, that’s completely up to you!
With Billboard Philippines‘ guidance, our only aim is to help you through this process to determine what works best for you and your listening experience. Every user and listener has a completely unique set of preferences when it comes to choosing how to go about how they enjoy listening to music.
Whether you favor playlist building, a higher sound quality, discovering new music, or consider yourself either a playlist listener vs. an album listener –– we’re honestly just fortunate enough to have a plethora of options that we can discover for ourselves.