February 27, 2019

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Apple Music vs. Spotify: The Battle Rages On

January 3, 2018

Imagine a large field... On one side, Apple Music fans are dressed in all white with a splash of an accent color (purple, pink, or cyan of course – very aesthetically pleasing). On the other side, separated by the wire-exposed necks of iPhone chargers and the remains of exploded Galaxy Note 7’s, are the Spotify fans. Dressed in all black with the bright Spotify logo splattered upon every shirt, the Spotify fans face the Apple Music fans, ready for battle. High above them, amongst the clouds somewhere, float Tidal fans, sipping champagne in the Grey Goose blimp, they don’t care, this squabble is beneath them. However, sprinkles of Pandora fans are camped out along the sidelines trying to find an in – there is none (obviously). The battle begins! Apple Music has Taylor Swift; Spotify gets her back. Spotify attempts to do videos; Apple Music picks up Carpool Karaoke. Who will be left standing? Who will actually make a profit off of streaming? Who really cares?

And what side am I on? Who do I fight for? Well, I personally swing to the side of Apple Music—which is apparently a huge, lame, way to go (according to Spotify people). But hey, let me explain.

 

In economic terms, we can argue that my attachment to Apple Music comes from the sunk cost phenomenon. Which according to Investopedia, (you know, the source of all of the most accurate economic information) is defined as “a cost that has already been incurred and thus cannot be recovered”. As in, I invested so much into iTunes that the switch to Apple Music was just necessary to not lose what I’d already put in. My investment in iTunes, like with many others, started with the first-generation iPod nano. It was the first Apple product I’d ever received and I was obsessed –with iTunes. To me, iTunes, was incredible—a one stop-shop for all the music in the world. I even had a UK account where I fudged an address and had my dad bring me iTunes gift cards from his London business trips so I could buy all the cute Brit pop my little 11-year-old heart desired. It was an incredible time. I could afford music. I didn’t have to run to mom and dad to get what I wanted. I was musically independent for the first time!

So, naturally, I started to create playlists and discovered the beauty of having a certain sound for a certain time. iTunes gift cards were all I wanted. I purchased a library of everything from Hannah Montana (keep in mind I was in middle school) to Coheed and Cambria and I was ecstatic. I had playlists for my friends to hear, playlists to listen to in the car while my sister drove me to school, playlists for when I was moody, and even playlists for when I snuck headphones into assembly. As I got older, I created playlists to mark time. I have playlists for each year of my college career, one for high school, and one for middle school. The history of my musical appetite is completely in iTunes.

 

When Spotify came to America, I think I was in high school. People started downloading music and sharing what they were listening to and for a moment there, I thought I should join in, be part of the crowd. I got the free Spotify account, and thought that if I publicly listened to all these cool bands, then my friends would finally stop listening to Katy Perry and listen to what I was listening to (you know, good music). Well, I realized I wasn’t brave enough to publicly listen to Emarosa and alas, my playlists weren’t on Spotify, so I would have to remake them, and then I couldn’t listen to them on-the-go, and that pissed me off more than anything else (I was an angry teen in general). So, I went back to the comfort of iTunes. I bought my songs even when the price went up to $1.29, and I continued to do so until 2015 when Apple Music came out.

 

By then, Spotify had already had that whole download thing down, most people had made the switch, and were paying cheap student rates. I, however, was still downloading music, less often as I was a poor college student spending more money on vodka than on culture, but October 2015 rolled around and Apple Music popped up on my screen. Ten dollars a month for the iTunes library and my whole life changed. I remember exactly where I was, isn’t that crazy? I was sitting in a hotel lobby in Naples, Italy and the ad popped up. It wasn’t the first time I saw the ad, but I had been really nervous to do it because Apple Music hadn’t been getting good reviews. But, I’d waited about a month and on a whim, I literally said “fuck it” out loud and subscribed. I was nervous that all of my playlists would get deleted, (remember, these playlists are what is important here) but everything stayed the same. All I needed to do was download what I wanted onto my phone. Easy.

 

Now, because it is $10 a month, I had a bit more incentive to make the most of it. I mean, for a college kid paying out of their own pocket, it adds up! But it was worth every penny. Suddenly, I was discovering new artists and new genres – I assume this is how most people felt when they got Spotify, but for me, it was incredible because I didn’t lose anything. I didn’t have to restart all the playlists. I didn’t have to lose that history I had cultivated in iTunes. I just added to it. Sure, it’s annoying sometimes and it’s a little more expensive. But it goes seamlessly with all my devices, I never lost any of the music I had purchased, and it looks nice (Apple always has aesthetics).

 

I think when Spotify started that whole download thing, I knew Apple would have to do something to stay relevant. To an extent, I think I was just waiting for Apple Music because I wanted to make sure I didn’t move all my eggs to a different basket only to realize I didn’t have to.  I’m glad I didn’t. I proudly stand by my decision. Think of all the purchases lost when people switched. Sure, you can download them again, but it’s not the same. Having my library the way I have it, the thought of having to move it, lose it, or even just fill in the gaps seems so daunting and takes the whole point out of it. I choose Apple Music for the history it allows me; that, to me, is worth a lot more than anything another service can offer.

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