Amazon Music vs. Apple Music: Which Is Better?

Amazon Music and Apple Music on mobile devices (From:Unsplash).
Amazon Music and Apple Music on mobile devices (From:Unsplash).

Now that both platforms offer lossless audio, we compare Amazon Music vs Apple Music to see which one you should invest your money in.

The music industry is ever-changing, and music streaming apps are likewise constantly evolving. And Amazon Music and Apple Music are great examples of those that have made some significant upgrades in the last few months.

In May 2021, Amazon Music announced that it would offer lossless audio to all its Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers. Similarly, in June 2021, Apple Music also announced the addition of Spatial Audio and Lossless Audio as part of their paid plans.

This is excellent news for people who are already committed to either one of these services. But for those still on the fence, the upgrades might make choosing between the two even more difficult.

No worries, though! We’ve reviewed all the different features on both apps to make it easier for you to decide. So let’s dive in!

Amazon Music and Apple Music on mobile devices (From:Unsplash)
Amazon Music and Apple Music on mobile devices (From:Unsplash)

The Overview

Amazon Music

Amazon Music logo
Amazon Music logo

Amazon Music is a music streaming platform owned and developed by Amazon. Then called ‘Amazon MP3’, the service was launched in 2007. At the time, it had only 2 million songs and 180,000 artists in its catalog and was considered the first digital music download store to offer “DRM-free music”. This gave music consumers an easy way to buy MP3 files from record labels like EMI Music and Universal Music Group.

DRM, or digital rights management, essentially places an expiration date on music downloads. It also limits the number of times users can share music files and the number of devices they can use to play them.

Amazon MP3 eventually became Amazon Music Prime, which was a complimentary free streaming service for Prime members. And in 2016, the brand was reinvented as Amazon Music Unlimited.

Amazon Music Unlimited was upgraded to offer three subscription tiers, a larger music catalog, and Alexa integration. An additional HD tier was later added, which provided lossless high-resolution audio. This, however, was merged with Amazon Music Unlimited in May 2021.

As of July 2021, Amazon Music has over 75 million songs in its catalog and over 55 million subscribers.

If you’d like to learn more about this platform, check out our in-depth Amazon Music Review.

Apple Music

Apple Music logo
Apple Music logo

Before Apple Music, there was iTunes. In its heyday, it was a “one-stop-shop” music app that allowed music fans to purchase songs instead of entire albums. It had a huge impact on music consumption in the early 2000s until several design issues bogged it down.

To streamline the convoluted mess that iTunes had become, Apple Music was created and launched in June 2015 in 100 countries. It offers a combination of music streaming and 24-hour radio programming, bolstered by Beats Music, which it acquired in 2014 along with Beats Electronics. The service attained 11 million subscribers in its first year.

One of the most recent additions to Apple Music’s offerings is Lossless Audio quality and Spatial Audio, which existing subscribers can upgrade to for free. The new feature delivers high-resolution audio “with true multidimensional sound and clarity.”

As of July 2021, Apple Music has over 75 million songs in its catalog and 72 million subscribers. However, there’s been no official update on the latest subscriber count since June 2020.

To read more about this platform, check out our comprehensive Apple Music Review.

Pricing & Plans

Apple Music Free trial
Apple Music Free trial

Apple Music and Amazon Music share a few things in common when it comes to their paid plans. Check out this handy table to see how both platforms’ paid plans compare and differ:

PlatformFree PlanIndividualPremiumFamilyPlanStudentPlanOthers
Apple MusicNo$9.99/month or $99 a year$14.99/month$4.99/monthN/A
Amazon MusicYesPrime members: $7.99/month or $79 a year

Non-Prime customers:
$9.99/month
$14.99/monthPrime members:
$0.99/month

Non-Prime customers:
$4.99/month
Single Device Plan:
$3.99/month

Both platforms offer the following premium features for subscribers:
  • Full access to all music and video content.
  • Lossless, high-resolution audio.
  • Ad-free, unlimited playback.
  • Option to purchase music.
  • Option to import local files.
  • Option to download songs for offline listening.
  • Live feature – livestreams (Amazon Music) and radio stations (Apple Music).

There are also key factors that set these two apps apart. If you’re keen on getting the better deal, it’d be helpful to keep the following points in mind:

Free plan availability

Apple Music doesn’t offer a free plan. However, new subscribers can take the Individual Premium plan for a spin on a generous 3-month free trial. On the other hand, Amazon Music offers a free plan that comes with a limited selection of top playlists and stations.

Subscription options

Apple Music’s plan offerings typically consist of only Individual, Family, and Student subscriptions. In contrast, you’ll get more from Amazon Music, which offers additional discounted plans for existing Prime subscribers. You can also avail of its more budget-friendly Single Device Plan that lets you stream from any eligible Echo or Fire TV device.

Podcast content

Apple does offer podcasts, but you won’t find them on the Music app. You’ll actually need an entirely separate app (Apple Podcasts) to access them. Amazon Music, on the other hand, offers podcasts conveniently within the app. However, its catalog amounts to over 70,000 titles only, which is markedly less than Apple’s 2 million.

Verdict: Which is more worth it?

Winner: Amazon Music

Amazon Music is definitely the more obvious choice in this scenario, especially if you’re on a budget.

If you’re already a Prime subscriber, you can avail yourself of everything Amazon Music has to offer for $2 less. And if you aren’t a Prime subscriber, you can still take advantage of Amazon Music’s free plan or Single Device plan, which is $6 cheaper than Apple Music’s Individual plan.

Who Has the Better Content?

Both platforms have extensive libraries and offer more than just music tracks. But in terms of amount and variety, which delivers best? Let’s find out.

Amount of music content

Both Amazon Music and Apple Music have over 75 million songs in their respective libraries. And with licensing deals locked down with major record labels, you won’t have trouble finding all the top hits and big names in music on either platform.

Amazon Music

Top playlists on Amazon Music.
Top playlists on Amazon Music.

Amazon Music is at par with Apple Music in terms of the amount of music available, but they definitely emphasize ‘popular’ content more. And that isn’t really surprising for a streaming app that was once described as a “mainstream music-streaming service for the mainstream music fan”.

As such, you’ll find much fewer categories available in Amazon Music’s ‘Search’ section. There are a total of 12 categories that cover the most popular genres and feature playlists like Pop Culture, Rap Rotation, and All Hits. The playlists are also ranked according to what’s popular among users of the app.

But that doesn’t mean Amazon Music is totally devoid of independent or niche music. You’ll just have to know what you’re looking for and actively search for it, as they aren’t prominently featured on the app.

Apple Music

Categories in Apple Music's 'Browse' section.
Categories in Apple Music’s ‘Browse’ section.

Thanks to impeccable content curation, there’s much to explore on Apple Music.

In the ‘Browse’ section, the bulk of Apple Music’s music offerings is spread out over a hundred categories. Some of them are very distinct like Indigenous Australia and Kayōkyoku, which is basically early post-war Japanese pop. Each category is filled with playlists that further flesh out the genre, leading users to some interesting deep dives.

On the other hand, mainstream music lovers can easily keep up with all the new releases with playlists like Today’s Hits, New Music Daily, and Daily Top 100.

Essentials playlists on Apple Music.
Essentials playlists on Apple Music.

If your tastes lean more towards independent or niche, there are just as many options to choose from. Apple Music’s indie section is a deep well of content containing artist playlists, video playlists, and stations. Its Indie Essentials section alone already features about 40 playlists, and that only makes up a small part of the category.

Apple Music’s support for independent artists is noteworthy. In 2020, the company initiated a $50 million advance royalty fund to help artists affected by the pandemic. And in 2021, Apple Music invested another $50 million in an indie music distributor, UnitedMasters, to help artists market and distribute their music.

Content variety

Other streaming apps offer podcasts and audiobooks in addition to music. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for Apple, which offers neither on its Music app. Listeners looking for such content will need to download Apple Podcasts or Apple Books. On the other hand, Amazon Music does come with podcasts, but those looking for audiobooks will have to turn to Amazon’s Audible.

Beyond podcasts and audiobooks, both platforms still manage to offer their own unique brand of non-music content.

Amazon Music

Podcasts on Amazon Music.
Podcasts on Amazon Music.

As mentioned earlier, Amazon Music hosts about 70,000 podcast titles in the app alongside its music collection. The section covers a decent amount of genres, from Arts and Business to Science and True Crime.

Amazon Music also offers video content, though noticeably less than what Apple Music offers. Listeners can check out music video playlists curated by genre or year, behind-the-scenes content, live performances, and exclusive sessions like ‘Prime Day Show’.

There are some interviews available, such as Adrian Younge’s Invisible Blackness, but other than that, the talk show type format is not as regularly or frequently produced as it is on Apple Music.

Apple Music's flagship radio stations.
Apple Music’s flagship radio stations.

One pretty cool feature is Amazon Music’s Live feature, which is only accessible via the mobile app. It allows musical artists from anywhere in the world to broadcast their Twitch livestreams through the app for Amazon Music subscribers to watch.

Apple Music

Lyric video for Halsey's 'You should be sad'.
Lyric video for Halsey’s ‘You should be sad’.

Apple Music may not have podcasts, but it does have a lot of video content to offer. Enough to warrant a category of its own in the app’s ‘Browse’ section. Here you’ll find playlists dedicated to music videos, stylized lyric videos, and even live performances. Subscribers can also watch a 24-hour music video stream via Apple Music TV, a new feature launched in late 2020.

Apple Music's flagship radio stations.

Videos aside, what Apple Music truly specializes in is radio. The app features three flagship stations – Music 1, Music Hits, and Music Country – all of which broadcast live to 165 countries. Apple Music’s radio experience is so comprehensive that listeners can even tune in to international stations to get updates on news and sports.

Despite backing off from artist exclusives in 2017, Apple Music has still been making some partnerships happen over the years. In 2019, the streaming service signed an exclusive release deal with French rap duo PNL, and again in 2021 with Kazakh rapper and producer Scriptonite. They’ve also partnered with the likes of Coldplay and Justin Beiber for exclusive video content.

Verdict: Which is more worth it?

Winner: Apple Music

Yes, both platforms have a lot of music to offer. But Apple Music presents its content in a way that feels like you’re getting more than just the mainstream genres.

Looking at the ‘Browse’ section alone, there’s a conscious effort to expose the listener to as many facets of the main music genres as possible, from as many places as possible. For instance, you’re not just getting ‘Pop’, you’re also getting ‘Russian Pop’, ‘60s Pop’, ‘J-Pop’, etc. And in doing so, the listener has a better way of accessing and navigating all the content Apple Music has to offer.

Whereas with Amazon, you have a very general overview of music genres available, and you essentially have to know what you’re looking for if you want to go outside of that selection.

In terms of content variety, both platforms have music videos and live performances. However, you get way more with Apple Music Radio and all the interviews, talk shows, and exclusive artist content it offers.

Audio Quality

Apple Music offers four audio quality settings, while Amazon Music provides up to five. Both also offer Lossless and High-Resolution Lossless audio as well. But before we go into that, let’s take a look at each platform’s audio quality settings and their corresponding bitrate:

Audio quality settingApple Music(AAC, ALAC)Amazon Music(AAC/MP3*, FLAC)
High Efficiency / Best Availabledepends on connectiondepends on connection
Data SaverN/A24-96 kbps
StandardN/AUp to 320 kbps
High256 kbpsN/A
Lossless / HDUp to 24-bit/48 kHzUp to 16-bit/44.1 kHz
High-Res Lossless / Ultra HDUp to 24-bit/192 kHzUp to 24-bit/192 kHz

Standard and high-quality audio

Apple Music also streams in its native AAC format and consumes about 60 to 120 MB of data per hour. On the other hand, Amazon Music doesn’t explicitly state what format it streams in, but it’s likely either the usual AAC or MP3 formats. Its ‘Standard’ setting consumes about 150 MB of data an hour, so the ‘Data Saver’ setting will be a welcome option for those who want to conserve their data plans.

That said, based on my experience, playback on both platforms is generally smooth with hardly any lag between songs on these settings.

Lossless audio

Audio quality settings on Apple Music.
Audio quality settings on Apple Music.

Both Apple Music and Amazon Music stream high-resolution lossless audio at 24-bit/192 kHz, with the former using ALAC format, and the latter streaming in FLAC format. However, there’s a slight difference between their ‘Lossless’ and ‘HD’ quality settings, which stream at 24-bit/48 kHz and 16-bit/44.1 kHz respectively.

As expected, both platforms’ lossless offerings perform flawlessly and are undoubtedly a big step up from their standard audio quality settings. But you can also expect a big step up in data consumption as well, as both platforms can guzzle anywhere between 720 to 2900 MB of data an hour at their two highest settings.

With higher audio quality and higher data consumption, you can also expect some playback issues if your network connection isn’t up to speed. In my case, I definitely encountered some lag and buffering of almost 3-4 seconds on days when my internet wasn’t cooperating.

Is there a significant difference between 24-bit/48 kHz and 16-bit/44.1 kHz?

The values of 24-bit and 16-bit refer to bit depth, which tells you the resolution of the audio data. The higher the value, the more detailed the captured audio is. The other two values – 48 kHz and 44.1 kHz – are sample rates. These refer to the number of times the original audio signal is sampled. Again, the higher the value, the more accurate the sound reproduction.

So, yes, there is a difference between 24-bit/48 kHz and 16-bit/44.1 kHz, but it’s so minuscule that we just won’t be able to hear it.

Here’s why: Audio sampled at 44.1 kHz covers frequencies of up to 22 kHz. And 48 kHz goes even higher by capturing frequencies of up to 24 kHz. To put things in perspective, the limit of human hearing is 20 kHz, making everything beyond that frequency no longer audible to us.

So, what’s the point of higher sample rates?

Well, one benefit has to do with your hardware. Audio files sampled at 44.1 kHz use up less space and less CPU power on your device, making it easier to store and share. This is also the standard sample rate used for CDs, making it an ideal choice if you’re recording music in physical formats.

On the other hand, audio tracks sampled at 48 kHz provides more head clearance in the higher frequencies.

This extra headroom makes it easier for mixers to fine-tune music tracks without affecting the frequencies you can actually hear. The extra “space” also means that less audio clipping occurs in the higher frequencies, giving you clearer overall sound.

If you’d like to read up more on this topic, check out our article: Understanding Sample Rate, Bit Depth, and Bit Rate.

Minimum requirements for lossless audio quality

To maximize the lossless audio experience, you will need to check if your existing gear can handle it. As for high-resolution lossless audio, or anything in the 96 or 192 kHz range, you’ll need to buy an external DAC (digital-to-analog converter) to bolster your device’s dynamic range capabilities.

iOS devices running iOS 11 or later can support lossless audio of up to 24-bit/48 kHz without the need for additional equipment. Android devices running Lollipop or later can also support up to 48 kHz.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, Apple Music’s lossless audio has yet to be made available on Android devices.

As for PCs, the audio specs can vary greatly between brands and models, so you’ll need to check with the manufacturer. On the other hand, Mac computers released after 2013 are equipped to support up to 96 kHz. All you need to do is adjust the ‘Format’ setting in Audio Midi Setup under Utilities, and you’re good to go.

Changing the sample rate in Mac's Audio Midi Setup.
Changing the sample rate in Mac’s Audio Midi Setup.

When it comes to speakers and headphones, you will need something that can accommodate at least 20 kHz+ for lossless and 40 kHz+ for high-resolution lossless. However, you need to be wary about using Bluetooth headphones, as most wireless models cannot support true lossless playback.

This is mostly due to the limitations of Bluetooth codecs, which function by compressing audio data for more efficient wireless transmission. Naturally, when audio is compressed, you lose the lossless quality of an audio track.

Check out our article on Bluetooth codecs to learn more about it.

Verdict: Which is more worth it?

Winner: Draw

Apple Music offers slightly higher resolution lossless audio, and if you’re already using high-end gear, that might make a big difference for you.

On the other hand, Amazon Music’s lossless audio is currently available on more devices, and if you’re an Android user that may be more convenient for you.

Ultimately, it boils down to whatever works for your current setup. Either way, both apps will deliver amazing audio quality with the right equipment.

Music Discovery

A good music discovery algorithm makes it possible for us to find new music and artists. And while some people are perfectly content to stick with what’s familiar to them, there are those (yours truly included) who actively and regularly engage with the feature to keep their libraries fresh.

That said, here’s an overview of the discovery features available on both platforms:

Discovery FeatureAmazon MusicApple Music
Search/Home (Amazon Music)

Browse/Listen Now (Apple Music)
New Releases
You Might Like
Albums For You
Playlists For You
Stations For You
Songs For You
Must-Have Music
Add To Your Library
Best New Songs
Daily Top 100
City Charts
Up Next
Playlist RecommendationsN/AN/A
Personalized MixesMy Soundtrack
My Discovery Mix
New Music Mix
Stations for You
Replay 2021
Artist Profile RecommendationsRelated ArtistsSimilar Artists

Amazon Music

Amazon Music's 'Search' section.
Amazon Music’s ‘Search’ section.

Amazon Music’s discovery features are seemingly few and sorely lacking in personalization. While I did get some interesting recommendations in sections like ‘Albums For You’ and ‘Songs For You’, the others felt more like “best of the best” compilations consisting of what’s generally popular in the app.

If you’re looking for new releases, you can access them in the ‘Search’ section, under the New Releases tab. There you’ll find a pretty straightforward selection of new albums, playlists, and songs. However, that’s pretty much all it is – just a rundown of everything new that’s come out, regardless of whether it matches your taste or not.

To be fair, Amazon Music does offer a few personalized playlists. ‘My Soundtrack’ is a custom radio station that gives you an endless stream of music based on tracks you’ve already liked. And ‘My Discovery Mix’, which looks more promising, is a weekly playlist that offers up a selection of completely fresh tracks from artists you’ve probably never come across.

Apple Music

Apple Music's 'Made For You' section.
Apple Music’s ‘Made For You’ section.

Apple Music, on the other hand, gives listeners more variety. Like Amazon Music, it has the typical sections you’d expect for music discovery. There’s ‘Must Have Music’, ‘New Music’, and ‘Best New Songs’, which showcase recommendations from Apple Music curators. There’s also a whole section called ‘Add To Your Library’ which compiles all the new releases across 11 music genres.

However, what gives the app a bit more of an edge is the availability of mood playlists. There are playlists for when you can’t sleep, or when you’re feeling anxious, which can be very helpful if you’re looking for something new to listen to but don’t know where to start. It’s also a great way of discovering new artists and music.

'City Charts' and 'Daily Top 100' on Apple Music.
‘City Charts’ and ‘Daily Top 100’ on Apple Music.

Apple Music’s Charts is another feature that sets it apart. This section features City Charts and Daily Top 100, which gives listeners insight into what trending around the world. Unfortunately, Amazon Music doesn’t offer mood playlists or global music charts.

To improve listeners’ discovery experience on the app, Apple Music launched This Week On Apple Music in July 2021. The new show aims to highlight all the latest exclusive content on the platform, making it easier for listeners to find them.

Verdict: Which is more worth it?

Winner: Apple Music

Both apps have few personalized playlists to offer. However, Apple Music comes out as a better option by offering listeners more ways to discover music through mood playlists and global charts, as well as taking steps to ensure users can easily find new content on the app.

Ease of Use

Amazon Music

Content filters on Amazon Music.
Content filters on Amazon Music.

Amazon Music’s interface is relatively easy to use. Instead of a sidebar, it has a navigation bar at the top portion of the desktop app. There you’ll find links to your ‘Home’ feed, personal library, and podcasts, making it easy to navigate the app.

Sorting filters are also prominently displayed in the ‘Search’ and ‘Library’ sections, making it easy for listeners to find what they’re looking for. Amazon also features a pretty comprehensive drop-down menu on both desktop and mobile apps. This gives you access to a lot of functions without needing to leave the current window.

Drop-down menus on mobile apps for Apple Music and Amazon Music.
Drop-down menus on mobile apps for Apple Music and Amazon Music.

Apple Music

In a sea of dark-themed music streaming apps, Apple Music retains its iconic clean, light, and minimalist look on both desktop and mobile platforms.

The interface is simple and minimalist. It has a permanent sidebar that allows you to easily create or edit playlists and jump between the different sections of the app. The sidebar is also fully customizable on desktop and mobile, allowing you to choose which filters or playlists you want to display or keep hidden.

Apple Music's customizable sidebar.
Apple Music’s customizable sidebar.

Apple Music has a handy drag-and-drop function that compliments the app’s sidebar by allowing you to quickly move content to your different playlists. Like Amazon Music, the menu that pops up when you right-click or long-press on a song or album is similarly packed with functions that make it easy to manage your content.

Verdict: Which is more worth it?

Winner: Apple Music

Generally, both apps are pretty easy to navigate. However, Apple Music’s sidebar gives the app a bit more of an edge.

Thanks to this little feature, users get an overview of the different sections in the app. This makes it easy to get around, even for newbies. Having a customizable sidebar is also a big plus for those who want to streamline what they can see and access on the app.

Additional Features

Audio equalizers on Apple Music (left) and Amazon Music (right).
Audio equalizers on Apple Music (left) and Amazon Music (right).

There are some additional features that both platforms have in common. Both apps have a built-in equalizer that allows listeners to further fine-tune their sound. Both apps also have integrated lyrics and songs credits. However, Amazon Music offers an extra feature called ‘X-ray’ on the Now Playing screen that highlights interesting info related to the song or artist.

Another feature that Amazon Music recently launched is DJ Mode. The playlist works like a hosted listening experience led by artists and DJs. It’s is designed to give listeners more insight into their work and musical influences.

Apple Music's 'Behind the Songs'.
Apple Music’s ‘Behind the Songs’.

Apple Music has a similar feature that puts the spotlight on the stories and people behind the music. But rather than just a playlist, there’s an entire section devoted to it. In Apple Music’s ‘Behind the Songs’, listeners can find playlists like ‘Behind the Boards’, ‘Song Book’, and ‘On the Session’ that highlight the producers, songwriters, and session musicians behind the songs you know and love.

'Saylists' on Apple Music.
‘Saylists’ on Apple Music.

There are a few other cool features on Apple Music that won’t be found on Amazon Music. There’s the bonus of Spatial Audio by Dolby Atmos, which provides listeners with an even more immersive listening experience; Apple Replay, which sums up your most listened to songs throughout the year; and Saylists, which encourages better speech articulation for those who suffer from speech-sound disorder (SSD).

Verdict: Which is more worth it?

Winner: Apple Music

Apple Music certainly has a lot more to offer in terms of additional content, making it more worth your money. Audiophiles will no doubt appreciate Spatial Audio. And, hardcore music fans will enjoy delving into the thoughtfully-curated ‘Behind the Songs’ section.

The inclusion of ‘Saylists’, in particular, is a unique feature you don’t normally see on streaming apps. This is also something that gives Apple Music more of an edge in terms of value.

Which Should You Go For?

Here’s a quick recap of all the good stuff each platform has to offer:

APPLE MUSICAMAZON MUSIC
Longer free trial period (3 months).Free plan availability.
Excellent music curation.More subscription plan options.
Better music discovery and personalization.Music videos and live performances.
Exclusive music and artist content.Twitch livestreams available in the app.
Lots of exclusive and original video content.Podcasts don’t require a separate app.
Live radio programming. 
Slightly better user interface. 

Both platforms have pretty extensive libraries and provide high-resolution lossless audio. That said, the choice between the two will depend on what’s convenient for you.

For instance, if you’re already a Prime subscriber, it’d make sense to go for Amazon Music’s discounted plans. Even more so if you’re on a budget since you can also take advantage of the free plan. If you also prefer having convenient access to podcasts, again, Amazon Music is your best choice.

On the flip side, if you’re an iOS user, Apple Music will allow more seamless integration between your devices. Listeners who enjoy having a radio feature on their music streaming app will get a lot out of Apple Music Radio. Additionally, if you enjoy good playlists and exclusive music content, Apple Music is the way to go.

Conclusion

Apple Music might have the lead in five out of the seven categories in this review. But that doesn’t completely rule out Amazon Music as a good streaming app. It’s simply just about your personal preferences.

Some people may prefer Apple Music’s slick interface and fancy animated covers. Some may also prefer more thorough music curation with lots of themed playlists and such. Others won’t care about the aesthetics or extra content at all. Some simply want a platform with great sound quality and a good music collection.

All in all, it depends on what you like as a music listener. Still, we hope this review has somehow helped illuminate certain things in each app that will help you arrive at a decision. But if not, you can always take both apps for a test run with a free trial.

How did you find our review? If you have any thoughts or questions, drop us a line in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

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