Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: Which is best for you?
Amazon has just released its new music streaming service, Music Unlimited, in the US. It’s not the first time Amazon has offered a music streaming service as it has Prime Music, but Music UnlimIted has a much larger catalogue of music and is open to everyone.
Spotify on the other hand has been in the streaming game since 2008 and has since amassed in excess of 125 million users, 40 million of which pay for it. It has a huge following and is probably the first service you think of when you think of music streaming.
It’s clear then that Amazon has a mission on its hands to topple Spotify’s reign, but it has some competitive pricing options and intuitive features that set it apart.
But which service is best for you? We’ve compiled together all the features of both, how much they cost and how you can access them to help you make your decision.
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Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: How much do they cost?
Amazon Music Unlimited is only available in the US at the moment, so we can only go on US pricing. It has been confirmed it will be made available in the UK before the end of the year.
If you don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime, a Music Unlimited membership will cost you $9.99/month, but if you do have a Prime account then you’ll only pay $7.99/month or you can $79 for a whole year.
Amazon also offers a membership for $3.99/month but you can only stream music through the Echo speaker, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap. Amazon has said it has plans to introduce a Family membership for $14.99/month or $149 for a year.
Spotify has two tiers, a free, ad-supported tier and a Premium tier that costs £9.99/month.
Spotify also offers offer a family subscription plan which costs £14.99/month for you and up to five family members. Each member gets their own personal account.
Students can also get a discounted membership for just £4.99, but they have to sign up through UniDays or NUS Extra.
Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: What devices are they on?
Amazon Music Unlimited is accessible through the Amazon Music app. The app can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices, as well as Mac and PC. You can also access it through a Web player in your browser and through the company’s Echo devices.
Amazon’s Fire tablets and the Fire TV also have an app and you can also play music through a Sonos Multi-Room system or Roku media streamer.
Amazon has also said that select BMW, Ford and Mini cars are Amazon Music-enabled and provide access to the service through its infotainment system when connected to a smartphone.
Spotify is available almost everywhere, there’s an app for iOS, Android, PC and Mac but is available on a list of devices that’s almost too long to put on here. You can get a Spotify app on select TVs from Panasonic, LG, Sony, Samsung, B&O and Philips, and on Bose, Sonos, Onkyo, Denon, Yamaha, Pionner, Naim, Libratone and Revo home entertainment products.
A wide range of car manufacturers, as well as Uber, have either built-in access via Spotify Connect, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. The Sony PlayStation has an app for Spotify that will let you play your music from within games and you can also access it through Google Chromecast and Chromecast Audio. You can find a full list of devices here.
Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: Which offers better sound?
Amazon hasn’t revealed the streaming bitrate quality of its library, but we’d have a guess and say it will be 320kbps as this would put it on par with Spotify.
Spotify reserves the 320kbps streaming quality for its Premium tier. It’s called high quality on computer and extreme quality on mobile. If you use the free tier and listen on a mobile, you can choose between 96kbps normal quality or 160kbps high quality. The same 160kbps streams are called standard quality on computer.
We haven’t heard Amazon Music Unlimited yet, so we can’t say which one sounds better. But since Amazon hasn’t said it’s going to offer high-resolution audio, we can assume they’ll sound very similar.
Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: Which has more music?
Again, Amazon hasn’t revealed exact details about its service. All it has said is that Music Unlimited will offer access to “tens of millions” of songs from the major labels.
Spotify has around 30 million songs in its catalogue, but the songs you’re able to listen to may vary depending on where you’re listening from. It’s not clear if Amazon Music Unlimited will have the same location-dependant library.
Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: What do they feature?
Both Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify offer personalised radio stations based on artists and tracks you like.
Amazon Music Unlimited has the unique ability to be used through the Echo range of voice-controlled devices. You can ask Alexa, Amazon’s assistant, to play songs based on an artist, genre or even for a mood and setting.
Spotify also has mood-based playlists and a list of auto-generated stations and you can also choose to start a station based on an artist or song you’re currently listening to.
Both services will let you create your own custom playlists you can then share with friends, or you can save curated ones to your collection.
Amazon hasn’t specified exactly how you’ll be able to discover new music through its service, but it has put great emphasis on the newly redesigned Music app, which it says will make music discovery easier than ever before.
Spotify meanwhile has a feature called Discover Weekly, which is an automatically curated playlist of songs that it thinks you’ll like based on your listening habits. It’s updated every Monday morning and from our experience, we’ve always liked what we’ve heard.
Amazon Music Unlimited can be played through the Echo devices, Fire devices and Sonos multi-room systems.
Providing you subscribe to the Premium tier of Spotify, you can use Spotify Connect. It’s a way to stream music to compatible speakers, home entertainment systems or even in an Uber taxi.
Because of the integration with Echo devices, Amazon Music Unlimited can be used with Alexa. You can ask Alexa all manner of questions to get the music you want, such as “play music for a dinner party” or “play Britney Spears greatest hits” and so on.
Spotify has no built-in assistant as such. You can’t ask Siri to play songs through it either, as it will default to playing music through Apple Music instead.
Both Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify offer offline playback. Amazon offers it as standard but you can only download songs from Spotify if you subscribe to the Premium tier.
Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify: Which is best for you?
So we come back to our initial question, which music streaming service is best for you? Both offer a compelling argument. We obviously can’t fully recommend Amazon Music Unlimited right now because it’s not available in the UK just yet, but it’s definitely worth thinking about.
If you already have an Amazon Prime membership it could definitely be worth it because of the cheaper monthly cost compared to Spotify. And if you’ve bought an Echo speaker or Echo Dot, paying just $3.99/month makes it incredibly worthwhile.
If it were us, we’d get an Echo Dot and hook it up to our home entertainment system so we could have a large catalogue of music on demand and a good quality system to play it on.
Spotify on the other hand is available almost everywhere and offers a free tier. It’s worth noting that while the free tier still lets you listen to Spotify’s entire 30 million strong music catalogue, it does come with some limitations.
You can choose whatever song you want if you’re listening on a PC or Mac through the app or web player, but if you listen on smartphone or tablet, you have to make do with shuffle-only access. That means you can choose an artist, but not a specific song, instead you have to rely on Spotify to shuffle their tracks.
But Spotify’s service is incredibly easy to use, it sounds good and it has some incredibly useful music discovery features.
We can’t wait to try Amazon Music Unlimited here in the UK, as it seems to offer a genuinely compelling case to switch from Spotify or indeed Apple Music.