Beats v. Spotify

I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Beats and Spotify for the past couple of weeks. I’d love to know what other people are thinking. Here are my criteria/important features, in no particular order.

  • Pricing
  • Grateful Dead Catalog
  • Classical title display
  • Remote control for home audio system from iPad/iPhone
  • Discovery
  • Catalog Depth

Both are identical on sound quality, or purport to be, so i didn’t make that a criteria. If I really want to settle in for listening, I’ll put on vinyl, a CD, or some lossless audio. But for hanging around the house or driving in the car, you can’t beat a subscription music service.

Pricing

Beats wins. But barely and it could be better.

If you’ve got AT&T, you can get the Beats family plan for $14.99/mo. Otherwise like Spotify, an individual monthly plan is $10/mo.

I was hoping to put the kids on the family plan so they could use it with their iPads but since they don’t have cell phone numbers, they’re not eligible. So it’s just the wife and I. Still that’s cheaper than buying two Spotify plans.

Grateful Dead Catalog

Spotify wins.

This is silly and sort of trivial, I know, especially since there’s so much available elsewhere online. But anyway, Spotify has a nice Dick’s Pick selection. When Beats first came out, it did, too. They seem to have disappearred though and been replaced with the “Road Trips” series of shows. Can’t say that one really wins here. They both have plenty of listening.

So as a tie-breaker here, Spotify has a much deeper JGB catalog than Beats. Much much deeper. So we’ll give the win to Spotify

Classical Title Display

  • Desktop: Tie
  • Mobile: Beats

As my test here, I try to find a listenable version of the second movement of Dvorak’s Ninth. When you type “Dvorak 9 II” into Beats or Spotify, you get just what you want.

If you just type “Dvorak 9” in Beats, you get list of tracks that makes it easy to find the movement you want. The sort order doesn’t make any sense but you can find what you want. If you type that expression into Spotify, meh. You can’t find the second movement among the results, easily.

This works on the iPhone, too. Beats, thankfully, gives two lines for title display so you can see which movement you’re clicking. Spotify just gives your “Dvorak Symphony No.9 …” and makes you guess at the movement you’re selecting. Boo.

Remote Control for home audio

Spotify wins.

Spotify has a companion/third-party app called Remoteless. This iPhone application allows me to remotely control Spotify on a computer that’s plugged into my home audio system. This is hugely convenient as it allows me to pick songs, playlists, control volume,etc. from my listening chair. Unfortunately, the application only works about 70% of the time.

Beats has no such remote control option. While it’s frustrating as hell to deal with a remote control that often doesn’t work when you need it to most (phone ringing, want to turn down music), at least it’s something.

Discovery

Beats wins.

There’s almost no contest here. The suggestions that Beats has been making for me on my mobile app and the desktop app are amazing. The human-curated playlists are spectacular. I’ve listened to more new music on Beats in the past two weeks than I have through any other channel in the past year.

My only disappointment here is that there seems to be almost no way to keep my new discoveries organized. Both Spotify and Beats offer custom playlists and subscribing to lists, etc but neither really has nailed a way for me to organize my discoveries for later listening.

Catalog Depth

Spotify wins.

Two quick examples. Spotify has three singles off of Beck’s new release Morning Light. Beats has one. Spotify has had multiple releases from Lake Street Dive for several weeks now, Beats just added a single album from the band this week. Neither, though, has Lake Street Dive’s newest album. Still, between the new releases, depth of JGB catalog, etc. Spotify’s catalog is just deeper. I suspect this will be a moving target though.

Conclusion

I’m still up in the air here. I really enjoy the interface of the Beats iPhone app. The ability to filter album lists is great and new music discovery is really a treat.

That being said, the few times I’ve really wanted to hear something (like some of the new Beck album or a Jerry Band tune), Beats just hasn’t had it and I find myself switching over to Spotify.

So, no clear winner yet. Would love to know others’ thoughts here.