Amazon Music Unlimited vs Spotify: Which is best? | Apps & Software

The rise of Amazon Music Unlimited has gone hand-in-hand with the explosion in use of Amazon Echo and the Alexa digital assistant. It integrates seamlessly with Echo, while also working as streaming service on your phone.

But Spotify is probably the first service you think of when you think of music streaming – it’s been around the longest, integrates with loads of services and has some very clever features.

But which service is best for you Amazon Music or Spotify? We’ve looked at all the features of both, how much Spotify and Amazon Music cost and how you can access them to help you make your ultimate decision: Spotify or Amazon Music Unlimited?

Amazon Music Unlimited is available with several different pricing tiers available. To help you get to grips with Amazon Music Unlimited and to decide if it’s the right service for you, Amazon offers a 30-day free trial. 

If you don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime, a Music Unlimited membership will cost you £9.99/$9.99 a month, but if you do have a Prime account then you’ll only pay £7.99/£7.99 a month or £79/$79 for the whole year.

Amazon also offers a membership for £3.99/$3.99 month but you can only stream music through the Echo speaker or Echo Dot. Note that you can only use the £3.99 month Echo membership on a single Echo device and it can’t be transferred. If you have multiple Echo devices in your home and want to use Amazon Music Unlimited with all of them, you’ll need a regular individual membership. There’s also a Student membership at $4.99.

A Family membership is available for £14.99/$14.99 a month for up to 6 family members or £149/$149 for a year.

Spotify on the other hand has a much simpler pricing structure with just three tiers: a free, ad-supported tier and a Premium tier that costs £9.99/$9.99 month. Again, there’s a 30-day free trial.

Spotify also offers offer a family subscription plan which costs £14.99/$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 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 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 and Microsoft Xbox One have apps for Spotify, along with Google Chromecast and Chromecast Audio. Check out this full list of Spotify Connect Devices.

We’ve mentioned both on Amazon Echo devices – while Amazon Music is slightly better integrated, Spotify plays natively too, so there isn’t a huge difference in experience.

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.

Amazon says it has 40 million songs in its catalogue with releases from “today’s most popular artists”. That’s around 10 million more than Spotify, which says 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.

Both Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify offer personalised radio stations based on artists and tracks you like.

Both have 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. These can also be accessed on Echo devices.

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’s Music app and the web player have a recommended section which serves up albums and playlists that it things you’ll like based on your listening habits. The Music app itself has had a major redesign, and now claims to 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.

While Amazon Music can be played on a wide range of devices, it’s in connectivity that Spotify has a killer feature – Spotify Connect.

Spotify Connect is one of the most useful connected control options of any streaming service. It will let you control what is playing on any Spotify Connect device or Spotify app, from any other. That means you can use your desktop app to control Spotify on your Echo, you can pause it on your phone, find something else and play that on your PC instead. Each app gets to control the music wherever it’s playing.

Spotify Connect is supported by a wide range of wireless speakers, making it easy to play your Spotify music through your TV, soundbar AV receiver and a while lot more. For us, it’s the killer feature.

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, but can be controlled with Alexa or Google Assistant – so you can simply ask for the music you want “on Spotify” and it will play.

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.

So we come back to our initial question, which music streaming service is the best? Both offer a compelling argument. 

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 a month makes it incredibly worthwhile if you just want playback on your Echo – certainly cheaper than paying for a full Spotify subscription. 

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 on where and how you can play you music, restricting downloads and so on.

But Spotify’s service is incredibly easy to use, it sounds good and it has some incredibly useful music discovery features. We also rate Spotify Connect and the best system if you have a range of different speaker types. Spotify is a flexible and integrated solution, available on most platforms – including Amazon’s own devices – making it our preferred option.

Also why not check out these superb Spotify tips and tricks

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