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No, Apple Music’s new Discovery Station won’t kill Spotify

The Apple Music Discovery Station on an iPhone.
The Apple Music Discovery Station is now available, but won’t kill Spotify all on its own. Phil Ninckinson / Digital Trends

There’s a crutch that tends to appear whenever Apple is written about, and it’s arisen yet again this week. Apple Music now has a “Discovery Station” that lives alongside your personalized station (that’s the one with your name). And that’s led some lazy headlines to declare that Apple Music finally has a feature “that could kill Spotify.”

Let’s be perfectly clear: The new Discovery Station will decidedly not lead Apple Music to kill Spotify. Or anything else, for that matter.

It is, however, a welcome feature. Unlike the personalized station, which picks and chooses from your library, the Discovery Station does the obvious and works outward from there, presenting tracks that are in your wheelhouse. And it’s not bad, though as with any sort of algorithmic endeavor, there will be times that it’ll have you make a beeline for the skip button. (I’m really not into Nu Metal anywhere near as much as Apple thinks I am.)

The point here, though, is that recommendation engines are nothing new. And when it comes to a streaming music app, it really is table stakes. It’s something Apple Music should have had long ago and is a feature that absolutely has given Spotify a leg up.

It is not — or if we absolutely have to caveat things, it is very unlikely — to kill Spotify in any way, shape, or form. Getting someone to switch from one app to another requires the new app to be several times better than the one it’s replacing. Apple’s simply reaching parity in feature here — and that’s before you get to whether its Discovery Station is as good as Spotify’s offering, and the overall question of whether Spotify is better than Apple Music.

And then there’s the matter of sheer numbers. Spotify on July 25 announced that it has 551 million monthly active users, a 27% increase year over year. And 220 million of them are paying for Spotify Premium. We don’t know with any certainty how many Apple Music users and/or subscribers are out there because Apple doesn’t report them publicly. Chances are it’s a lot (estimates have had Apple Music at around half of Spotify in recent years), but we’re not about to see more than a half-billion Spotify users hop over to Apple Music just because of the new Discovery Station.

No, barring acquisition by an eccentric billionaire with dubious intent, don’t look for Apple to kill Spotify anytime soon. Or anyone else, for that matter. You may, however, continue to look for lazy headlines.

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Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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