Beats Music vs. Spotify: Can Dr. Dre outmix the king of streaming?

beats music vs spotify dr dre

If you prefer to get to your music with a click rather than flipping through pages of discs in your CD case, then you have plenty of options to choose from. Music streaming services are all the rage these days, and Spotify is the top dog when it comes to music on demand. With a massive – and very connected – 24 million active users streaming their music through Spotify, any challenger finds itself looking up a steep hill to climb when it comes to catching up. Beats Music thinks it’s capable of building its service big enough to cast a shadow on Spotify, and it’s putting a massive marketing budget behind that goal. As AC/DC says, it’s a long way to the top. Which of these services can make the trip?

Music catalog

There are a lot of similarities between Spotify and Beats Music. In fact, we’re willing to bet there’s probably somewhere near 20 million of them. That is how many songs both Spotify and Beats Music both boast. How much crossover there is between these is hard to say, and even if you start listening now and don’t stop for the next 100 years, odds are good you won’t find a song on one service that you can’t find on the other. In fact, in its five years of existence, 20 percent of Spotify’s library has never even been listened to by anyone. Distinguishing a winner between two services with more music than you’ll ever need is nearly impossible.

Beats Music playlists
Beats Music playlists

Winner: Tie

Social Connectivity

Spotify has it’s deep entrenchment into Facebook to thank for some of its success. Having songs played on Spotify pop up in news feeds on one of the world’s most visited websites is about as good of publicity as you can get. It’s also a total turnoff for those who aren’t into Facebook. No matter how sure you are that you friends love your taste in music, not everyone wants to see what song you’re listening to at all times. Spotify doesn’t require Facebook, but it’s used as a strong incentive, though recent features have promoted Spotify’s own internal social network.

Beats Music uses social networks during its sign up process, but it’s in no way required. It’s easy enough to just sign up with an email address. There is the ability to share your tunes via Facebook and Twitter, but it’s a more active decision, requiring you to share it like you would a link. Beats Music is more interested in getting you intertwined in its own network of influencers and curators than it is turning you into one for your friends.

If you’re into sharing and social networking, Spotify is the clear answer for you. But if you tend to avoid updating your statuses and following your friends, Beats Music is a better bet.

Winner: Spotify

Music discovery

With the amount of content on Spotify and Beats Music essentially the same, they take two very different approaches to helping you find new music.

Spotify essentially puts its discovery options on the back of your friends. If the people you are connected with have good taste and listen to a ton of music, you’re going to have a lot more to work with when it comes to Spotify. You can subscribe to playlists created by people and enjoy the music they put together. Other than that, there’s some bare bones stuff that Spotify puts together in its home page and some really basic artist suggestions that aren’t all that personal and often flat out wrong. However, the newer Discover tab does surface some unique tracks and albums by seeing what other people like you are listening to and some song analysis.

You can stream songs on demand with Beats Music, but it’s way more interested in bringing you new stuff. When you sign up for the service, it asks you to indicate your favorite genres and artists. This serves to bring you the content on your homepage, which is updated regularly with playlists and albums of artists you should enjoy. You can create a mix made specifically for a moment with The Sentence, which asks you to fill in the blanks on a sentence to tell your situation and help Beats Music set the mood for you. There’s also content curated by people and sortable genre, activity, and playlist creator. Basically any way you can imagine to find new music is covered under the Beats Music umbrella.

Spotify Discover

Sadly, neither of these services have likely cracked the code of music discovery yet. No service has.

Winner: No one

Comparing the free versions

This is an easy one. Spotify allows you to stream unlimited music for free from your desktop, albeit with ads occasionally interrupting you. Beats Music has no free version to speak of. Spotify has a 30 day free trial available to its Premium service. Beats Music only gives you 7 days (unless you’re an AT&T customer, in which case you get a full 30 day trial). If you’re short on cash or don’t want to commit to a monthly subscription, you can’t consider Beats Music.

Winner: Spotify

Comparing the paid versions

If you’re willing to fork over some hard earned cash each month to get your fix of streaming music, your decision is going to come down to features because almost everything else about the paid Spotify and Beats Music services are the same. For $10 a month – both services charge the same fee – you have access to essentially the same amount of music. Both Spotify and Beats Music allow you to stream to your heart’s content as a single user on up to three devices, with streaming occurring on only one device at a time.

Spotify does offer an offline mode on desktop; Beats Music does not. Beats Music does allow users to download songs and store them on mobile devices for offline listening, which Spotify offers as well. Both paid services emphasize top quality streaming sound, offering all available tracks in 320kbps quality.

It’s worth noting that Beats Music does have a second paid option: the family plan. It’s available exclusively to AT&T customers with a data plan through the carrier. For $15 a month, a family of up to 5 people can stream music freely through Beats Music on up to 10 devices. For $5 more a month, you’ll be able to spread the love. This might be a killer feature for those who listen to music across a myriad of devices or have a music-obsessed family, which makes the AT&T exclusivity such a shame.

Winner: Beats Music (for Family Plan)

Where can you use it?

Since taking music with you is key when it comes to streaming music, the availability of a service is make or break. You should not have a problem finding a platform that can play home to either Spotify or Beats Music.

Lady Antebellum Spotify PlaylistsSpotify is available on iPhone (3G and later), iPad, iPod Touch running iOS 6 or higher, Android devices running Android 2.2 and up, Windows Phone 8 devices, and a small spattering of BlackBerry devices. It also offers a desktop client, which Beats Music does not provide. So if your computer is your home base for music and you store tons of it locally, Spotify becomes a favorite. Spotify does offer Web player support for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer as well.

With no desktop client to speak of, Beats Music focuses heavily on mobile. You can access the service via the Web as Beats Music supports Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer 9 or higher. But this means no offline desktop mode, meaning Beats Music can’t serve as an iTunes with streaming options. As far as mobile devices go, though, Beats Music has plenty of choices. Owners of iOS devices running iOS 6 or higher – iPhone 4 and up, iPod Touch 4th generation and up, iPad 3rd generation and up – Android devices running Android 4.03 or higher, and Windows Phone 8 or higher can all use Beats Music. Beats Music is also available for Sonos devices version 4.0 and higher. With Webkit 2-based browser support, smart TVs can access Beats Music.

Winner: Spotify

Overall Winner: Spotify

Despite plenty of similarities, Beats Music and Spotify have different strengths. Working with basically the same library and same price point, Spotify caters better to the music listener who enjoys what they have and wants access to favorites at all times while Beats Music looks to those who want to discover more, but don’t want to work to find it. If you work off your desktop regularly or find yourself going offline often, Spotify is your best option. For those who want to share with their family, Beats Music is more up your alley. And of course, if you don’t want to pay at all, then Spotify is the only choice here. Once you decide what kind of listener you are, you’ll have an easy time picking which service to use.

Summary

 

Spotify 

SpotifyLogo

Beats Music 

 BeatsMusicLogo

Music Discovery Playlists, Radio, and Discover tab Just For You tab, The Sentence, Highlights, Playlists
Music Library 20+ million songs 20+ million songs
Library Support Playlists and Starring songs allowed Playlists and full Library management
Social Sharing Full integration with Facebook Facebook login
Free Version Unlimited Desktop Streaming with Ads No
Trial 30 Days 7 Days (30 Days for AT&T Subscribers)
Paid Version $10/month for 1 user, 3 devices $10/month for 1 user, 3 devices
Family Plan
No

$15/month for 5 users, 10 devices
(AT&T Subscribers Only)

Song Catalog
Over 20 million Over 20 million
iOS Support
iPhone 3G+, iPad 2+, iPod Touch 4th Gen+ iPhone 4, iPad 3+, iPod Touch 4th Gen+
Android Support
Android 2.2+ Android 4.03+
Windows 8 Support
Yes Yes
Web Support
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE
Desktop App Yes No
Home Theater

No car? SiriusXM’s $8 a month streaming plan has everything but Howard Stern

SiriusXM is stepping into the streaming music ring with an $8 per month plan designed specifically for people who get their music via smartphones and smart speakers. It doesn't work on SiriusXM radios, and Howard Stern is extra.
Home Theater

Google brings ad-supported YouTube Music to its Google Home speakers

Hot on the heels of Amazon's announcement that it's adding a free version of its Amazon Music service to Alexa-powered speakers, Google is adding a free, ad-supported version of YouTube Music to Google Home smart speakers.
Home Theater

Amazon’s free Spotify competitor is here. Just ask Alexa

Just ask Alexa to play your favorite song. Amazon has launched a free, ad-based music streaming service to compete with Spotify's free tier on its popular Echo devices, aiming to bolster subscriptions to Amazon Music Unlimited.
Computing

Here's how you can download the best free music players for your Mac

Tired of your Mac's default music player? Take a look at our picks for the best free music players available for your Apple rig. Whether you're a casual listener or an audiophile, you're sure to find something that fits your needs here.
Home Theater

The best MP3 players of 2019 cram tons of music into a small package

Want to go for a run, but your phone is weighing you down? Don't sweat it. Can't fit your whole music library on your smartphone? No worries. Check out our list of the best MP3 players, and find one that works for you.
Apple

WWDC 2019 Complete Coverage

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference is a key tech event each year, and for Apple fans, it will be one of the two best times of 2019 (along with "new iPhone day," of course). For the last few years, Apple has debuted much of its…
Mobile

Walmart drops a killer deal on the Apple iPad Mini 4 tablet

The Apple iPad still reigns supreme in the tablet market, and the pint-sized 7.9-inch iPad Mini is the perfect everyday carry companion. Now’s the perfect chance to score a deal on the last-gen iPad Mini 4 before it’s gone for good.
Mobile

Whether by the pool or the sea, make a splash with the best waterproof phones

Whether you're looking for a phone you can use in the bath, or you just want that extra peace of mind, waterproof phones are here and they're amazing. Check out our selection of the best ones you can buy.
Mobile

Google Creative Lab’s new AR experiment helps you learn how to draw

Google's Creative Lab developed an experiment called Drawalong AR that could make it easier for aspiring artists to follow YouTube tutorials. The experiment essentially leverages Google's ARCore to create a virtual tracing paper.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Mobile

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best affordable phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget…
Mobile

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.