The streaming service is now live, offering users a three month free trial before they have to start paying £9.99 a month. So it’s almost certainly worth a try — but is it worth moving over entirely?
The first thing that I noticed when moving to Apple Music was that there’s nothing to make the change especially easy. Apple has had to work so hard on Music in part because people tend to be conservative about their streaming music services, only moving when it’s really compelling to do so.
From the moment you launch Apple Music, it’s clear why that’s the case: You immediately realize that you’re leaving all of your old music — playlists, saved songs, the listening history that helps make recommendations — behind with Spotify. There’s no easy tool to help you move over (and there isn’t the other way, either).
So the first job is going through your Spotify library and making sure that everything you want to keep is moved to Apple Music. That’s fairly laborious, manual process — but I found all but a couple of the things that I was looking for.
If you’ve used iTunes to buy stuff before — or had a subscription to iTunes Match, even if it has lapsed — then Apple will import all of that stuff into your library, making it slightly easier. I used to use Apple’s cloud-based music service avidly, but then stopped, so I have a perfect set of everything I listened to up until I moved over to Spotify already.
Once you’re using Apple Music, the basics are much the same as Spotify: you have a library of music, any of which you can choose to keep locally on your phone; a tab for discovering new music; and a way of choosing radio stations. The price will be exactly the same too.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s as simple as using a service with Apple rather than Spotify branding. The menus are all entirely differently arranged, and the way that music is organised means getting yourself into an entirely different mindset. As such, the process of learning to use Apple Music is more like getting to grips with a new operating system, rather than a new app — navigating a sea of unfamiliar buttons, and learning where things go.
Once you’ve worked out the interface, streaming music works well. Like Spotify, songs come down the pipes almost instantly if you have a decent connection, and sound good. It has almost every track that you want, but like Spotify you run into gaps occasionally. Discovery is quick and easy and even after less than a day it feels like the recommendations system already knows me well.
That system for discovery and recommendations is likely the thing that will mean that Apple Music will beat Spotify, since it feels so much more holistic and useful in what it recommends. But while Apple’s service might be the best for finding new stuff, Spotify still has all of your old stuff.
For now, it’s worth taking advantage of Apple’s free three months on the service, just to give it a try. You have nothing to lose but your playlists, but you might miss those when they’re gone.