The battle of the streaming giants continues, but what side of the debate are you on?
It's not exactly the Blur vs Oasis of my generation, but the issue of Apple Music vs Spotify is one which deserves attention.
We are spoilt for choice these days when it comes to listening to music. When I was a teenager I had a discman in one pocket and approximately 30 batteries in the other for my morning commute to school. I then had a desktop jammed with MP3 files to go on my Creative Zen player. I bought an iPhone in my late teens and got to know iTunes. I hated it.
This was the way music management was for me and those like me.
Today I have a fancy vinyl collection, an Apple Music subscription and a Spotify subscription. I did have a Google Music subscription too but it annoyed me within a week so I cancelled it.
While I acknowledge that my music habits, as listed above, may seem excessive, I assure you it's not. You see - as far as I can tell - there is no perfect way to consume music these days.
Enter the following thought into your brain: First world problem!
My response: Yes, but a first world problem is still a problem.
Spotify was the first service I signed up for. I used the free version for a while but wanted to be able to download playlists and go ad free, so I paid a tenner a month. For quite a long time I loved it. I never really thought about how much any artist was making from each song I listened to. "First world problem", I thought.
Then Tidal happened. And then Tay Tay vs Apple happened. I realised that I should care.
Last year I spoke to Jeremy Pritchard, bassist with Everything Everything. We chatted about a wide range of issues and then Spotify was mentioned.
"We're on Spotify but not through our own vacillation really, but because it's more or less mandatory for a band on a major label. We'd have such a fight on our hands with the people we work closely with to not be on Spotify and it actually damages your own career in the end. It's not that we feel particularly supportive of that mechanism but that it's not worth the tussle to back out of it. We don't begrudge it, we're just aware of what it takes away - which is sales and less income for everybody."
Pritchard continued to say that while that may sound greedy "when a musician says they want to be paid for their music it's because they want to be able to carry on making it. It's not about swimming pools and mansions."
I was also surprised to learn from another Irish musician that many of his fellow artists across Ireland and the UK are working in restaurants during the day to make a few bob because they are earning little to nothing from their music.
So we, the customer, have a number of factors to consider - or ignore - when we decide what music service to use. Do we use the one that is most fair to the artists, the one that is the easiest to navigate, the one with the best catalogue or are you in the camp of “Stop overthinking it, Kelly”?
All are valid choices. My monthly subscription to one or many of the streaming services isn't going to solve the issues musicians and producers face. My tenner a month won't save the business; I know that. But it makes me feel that I'm doing something to help. I am the person that buys an album I really love on vinyl. That can cost anywhere from €15 - €30. The fact that I can have thousands of songs at my fingertips in a heartbeat for €10 a month seems incredibly fair to me.
My subscriptions for both Spotify and Apple Music are due for renewal next Thursday and I think I’m going to stick with Apple Music. For those of you who have not yet tried it, you can get a free trial period.
I like the clean interface. I think the options to tailor the music you are presented with are superior to any of the other music services. I think the selection is incredible. These are all things that surprised me. I hated iTunes and feared this would be like iTunes Premium. But it’s not.
I also like that Apple seem to work with artists. We know that Swifty is now best pals with them, but other artists seem to have less issues with Apple Music than they do with Spotify. I’m not sure why I care about that, but I do.
What's your take? Do you subscribe to either? Let me know.