I tried out the free versions of both Amazon Music and Spotify to compare. Spotify won, though both were far from perfect.

AmazonSpotify

Amazon/Spotify/Mary Meisenzahl

Amazon Music (left) and Spotify (right).

  • I tried out Amazon Music and Spotify each for a few days to see how they compare.
  • Amazon Music is catching up to Spotify, and recently reported it has more than 55 million customers.
  • Neither free service convinced me it was good enough for everyday use, but I preferred Spotify for the better-looking design and ease of use.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

I've been an Apple Music user since 2015 when it first debuted, on an account I share with the rest of my family. I'm not necessarily looking to switch music streaming services, although I am jealous of the great end of year recaps Spotify users get.

But with Amazon Music's recent release of its free version and subsequent growth that rivals both Spotify and Apple Music, we wanted to see how they compare.
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Amazon is a relative newcomer and doesn't have the userbase of other services. As of January 22, Amazon Music has 55 million users across its five tiers of service, The Verge reported. For comparison, Spotify most recently reported 113 million paying customers, 248 million overall, and Apple Music has 60 million on its only tier, which is paid.

Here are how Amazon and Spotify's free, ad-supported services compare.

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I already knew going in that Spotify would do well with playlists.

I already knew going in that Spotify would do well with playlists.

Spotify is known for making users weekly playlists based on their listening habits, and it didn't disappoint. I'm sure mine would be even better if I used Spotify regularly for a while, but I was still pleasantly surprised by how well it did.

Spotify was far more pleasing to look at.

Spotify was far more pleasing to look at.

Although it may seem minor, Spotify is clearly paying more attention to the design and user experience of its app. The app has bright colors, but nothing jarring or hard to look at. Everything fits together in a way that visually makes sense.

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Using Spotify is as easy as it looks, and the search function works well.

Using Spotify is as easy as it looks, and the search function works well.

I really liked that there's one central search location to find songs and podcasts, instead of navigating between different apps like I usually do. The same aesthetic carries onto the search page, and using each tab is intuitive. Overall, Spotify is pleasant to use, and I like the layout.

Search on Spotify is simple, and brings up the results I wanted easily...

Search on Spotify is simple, and brings up the results I wanted easily...
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But it still had a pretty big flaw. With Spotify's free version, you can only play playlists, not individual songs on mobile. You can make custom playlists to get around this problem somewhat, but it's an annoying extra step.

But it still had a pretty big flaw. With Spotify's free version, you can only play playlists, not individual songs on mobile. You can make custom playlists to get around this problem somewhat, but it's an annoying extra step.

There's no "play" button, only options to add to a playlist or listen to shuffled with other songs.

The closest you can get to playing the specific song you want is making a playlist, which you must listen to shuffled, unless you want to pay up and upgrade to premium.

The closest you can get to playing the specific song you want is making a playlist, which you must listen to shuffled, unless you want to pay up and upgrade to premium.
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You also only get a limited number of skips on Spotify, again limiting your ability to listen to the song you really want to hear.

You also only get a limited number of skips on Spotify, again limiting your ability to listen to the song you really want to hear.

I found Amazon Music uglier than Spotify and less able to make useful recommendations.

I found Amazon Music uglier than Spotify and less able to make useful recommendations.

While Spotify cared about design and listening experience, Amazon seems to be going for making as many listening tiers as possible, at the expense of design. It has five tiers in total, ranging from free, ad-sponsored Amazon Music to the $14.99 a month Amazon Music HD.

I tested out the free version, which gave me access to playlists with ad breaks, and limited skips. For me, the experience was less intuitive as I figured out what tools were available to me in the app. The recommendations were also not particularly useful.

To use this free version of Amazon Music, I had to log out of my Amazon account, which has Prime, and create a new account. Prime subscribers get access to 2 million songs from Amazon's catalogue, which were automatically applied to my account at first.

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For all its shortcomings, Amazon Music had one super useful feature: the ability to play music from my Echo Dot.

For all its shortcomings, Amazon Music had one super useful feature: the ability to play music from my Echo Dot.

If you're as lazy as I am, the allure of being able to tell Alexa to play a song on the Echo is undeniable. I can almost ignore all the minor annoyances of the app, from useless recommendations to a complicated design, just for the convenience of seamlessly connecting to my Echo.

Note that it is possible to stream Spotify on an Echo, but I preferred the ease of Amazon Music, which was already connected to my account.

Search is more cluttered in Amazon Music, and not as nice to look at.

Search is more cluttered in Amazon Music, and not as nice to look at.
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The actual functionality of Amazon was very similar to Spotify. You can't play a specific song, but selecting a song will take you to a playlist of songs like it.

The actual functionality of Amazon was very similar to Spotify. You can't play a specific song, but selecting a song will take you to a playlist of songs like it.

Both Amazon and Spotify have ads, and limit the number of songs you can skip in a given time period. Neither were particularly more annoying than the other, although it was jarring and weird when Spotify ads tried to disguise themselves as songs.

Amazon's attempts to promote its paid streaming services were, however, more annoying and obtrusive. They seemed to pop up more than Spotify's.

After trying both, Spotify is the winner.

After trying both, Spotify is the winner.

I found parts of both Amazon Music and Spotify that I liked, but they were far from perfect. Maybe that's too much to ask from a service that is, after all, free. Spotify easily had a better design, plus it was better for finding songs I already liked or discovering new ones. I liked that it was easier to connect Amazon to my Echo, but that couldn't make up for all the other issues with Amazon's app.

Spotify is the winner, although I can't see relying on either service for regular music.

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