The Neil Young Spotify website page on a smartphone in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Sunday, January 30, 2022.
Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Last week, several prominent musicians, including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, removed their back catalogs from Spotify.
The artists say the move is in response to Spotify’s ongoing licensing contract with Joe Rogan, who is accused of spreading misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine, and whose podcasts are available exclusively through Spotify.
“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify. Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” Mitchell wrote on her website.
Spotify won’t remove the Rogan podcasts. CEO Daniel Ek wrote over the weekend that “it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”
This mean that Joni Mitchell or Neil Young fans — or people who agree with their stance on Joe Rogan’s podcast — have a choice to make: Stick with Spotify or find a new streaming music service?
The main alternative to Spotify is Apple Music, which costs $9.99 per month, and had 60 million paying subscribers in 2019, the last time Apple officially announced Apple Music subscriptions. (Spotify has 172 million subscribers.)
One thing you probably won’t give up is your favorite artists — Neil Young and Joni Mitchell notwithstanding. For the most part, artists on Spotify are also on Apple Music. Both have deals with all U.S. major record labels. Both boast a catalog over 70 million songs.
How to cancel a Spotify Premium subscription
There are two major kinds of Spotify subscriptions: Premium and free. A premium subscription costs $9.99 per month and removes ads, gives users access to pick songs on a mobile phone, and provides access to exclusive podcasts.
Most people can’t cancel a Premium account on a smartphone. (The reason is complicated, but has to do with Spotify’s efforts to comply with Apple’s and Google‘s app store rules while minimizing payouts to those companies.)
So you have to cancel online:
- Go to Spotify.com/account
- Click Change Plan.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page, then click Cancel Premium.
Completely deleting your account is more difficult, especially if you have ever been a Premium subscriber.
For now, to completely close your account, you have to go to Spotify’s support website and contact customer support. Users will have to speak to a chatbot online or send an email to Spotify to fully delete their accounts. They will have seven days to change their mind.
What you lose by quitting Spotify
If you unsubscribe from Spotify Premium, you’ll lose the ability to listen to the Joe Rogan Experience in addition to other podcasts exclusive to the service, which include shows featuring Bill Simmons and Michelle Obama, and stories from Gimlet Media.
Spotify also includes stream counts for most songs that help users compare hits from artist to artist. Apple Music lacks that, and only offers a list of top songs from each artist — so it’s much harder to figure out whether that song from Adele or YoungBoy NBA was a bigger hit.
Spotify has a better algorithmic playlist feature than Apple, and it often picks up when users finish an album or song, so there isn’t silence when a record finishes.
Apple Music also lacks many of the social features of Spotify. While Apple Music allows users to find friends on the service, you can’t see what they’re listening to in real-time, as Spotify allows users to do on the desktop. Spotify also has features to let multiple users collaborate on a playlist.
Apple Music does collect what friends are listening to in a “Friends Mix,” but it is an algorithmic playlist, not a real-time feed.
Many musicians also maintain playlists of what they’re listening to or inspirations for their records, and those playlists are often Spotify-only.
Users who cancel Spotify Premium may also lose access to some of Spotify’s early access sales for concert tickets.
You will also most likely have to give up your library when switching from Spotify to another service, as there isn’t an official tool for transferring saved music or playlists from Spotify to Apple Music. There are a number of paid third-party tools that purport to do it, but they aren’t guaranteed to work smoothly.
Finally, if you cancel your Spotify subscription, you can still access a free version of the service with ads through a desktop app for PC or Mac (but not phones), or a web browser. Apple Music requires a subscription, and there is no free version.
What you get from Apple Music
Apple Music with Dolby Atmos spatial audio
Todd Haselton | CNBC
Most of the curated playlists on Spotify have Apple Music counterparts.
Instead of Spotify’s “Rap Caviar,” Apple has “Rap Life.” Spotify’s “Deep Focus” is pretty similar to Apple Music’s “Pure Focus.” The playlists won’t be exactly the same, but they’ll have similar selections and sequences, and can be a viable substitute for many listeners.
Instead of a daily Spotify “Discover” playlist, which is algorithmically created for each listener, Apple creates several similar individual mixes for Apple Music subscribers, like “New Music Mix” or “Friends Mix,” which is created for most users on a weekly basis.
Apple Music is primarily made for people with Apple products, like iPhones and Macs, and works better with Apple’s HomePod Mini wireless speaker than Spotify does.
But you can still use Apple Music from non-Apple products — there is an Android version of Apple Music and a Windows version of iTunes. There’s also a web interface that allows users to stream music from a web browser.
The price is about the same: Apple Music costs $9.99 per month, the same as a Spotify Premium subscription in the U.S.
But Apple also has a newly-introduced $5 plan called Apple Music Voice, which gives access to curated playlists and online radio, but doesn’t allow the user to add songs to their library or create playlists.
Apple also bundles Apple Music with some of its Apple One packages, which add storage space, a subscription video service called Apple TV+, and sometimes the ability to share the subscription with family members, which can save money.
While Apple doesn’t have the same number of exclusive podcasts as Spotify does, it does publish some paywalled podcasts through a product called Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, as well as offer access to most non-exclusive podcasts through the Podcasts App.
Apple also has a number of radio shows only available to Apple Music subscribers. It operates three radio stations which often have interviews with and new information about some of the biggest musicians in the country. Some major musicians, including Billie Eilish and The Weeknd, host radio shows for Apple.