Amazon Music vs. Spotify: What’s the Difference?

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Can't decide between Amazon Music vs. Spotify? We compare both services, prices, and features to help you decide.

Your music streaming service can make or break your listening experience. That’s why it’s important to find the one that best fits your needs and lifestyle. Amazon Music and Spotify currently lead the streaming pack, but which one is better? We’re breaking down everything you need to know in the great Amazon Music vs. Spotify debate, including pricing, features, sound quality, and other features.

What’s the difference between Amazon Music vs. Spotify?

Amazon Music and Spotify have a long list of similar features and nearly identical song catalogs. However, there are some differences that could sway potential listeners in the direction of one particular service over the other.

Amazon Music

The key difference with Amazon Music is the easy compatibility with Alexa, the already-famous voice assistant so many homes, cars, and tech essentials already use. Accessing Alexa is easy since Amazon Music includes the use of Alexa already built in, which means users can access their favorite streamed music hands-free. If you’re often driving, this feature can be especially useful. It works the same way you might use Alexa to operate smart home accessories with commands like, “Hey Alexa, open the garage door,” but using commands more like, “Hey Alexa, play some relaxing jazz music.”

Spotify

Accessing Spotify’s smart algorithm is a pleasure if you’re more driven by finding genres and podcasts and filtering sounds based on your mood. Playlists on Spotify also offer a function called “enhance” which allows users to invite random songs into playlists that fit the mood and style of the ones you’ve already marked as your favorites. An option for “recently played” music is also available that allows users to look over the music they’ve listened to over the last three months of streaming.

Amazon Music vs. Spotify: Prices

Spotify Vs Amazon Music Price Arrowsrd.com, Via apple.com(2), Getty Images

Amazon Music

Choose from a range of Amazon Music plans including Free, Amazon Music Prime, Unlimited, Unlimited Family, and Single Device.

If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you’re already entitled to an expanded music service called Amazon Music Prime as part of your subscription bonuses. It’s ad-free, has on-demand access to nearly two million songs (and counting), and is extremely popular because existing Prime members view it as a free benefit.

There’s an actually-free membership as well, Amazon Music Free, that operates similarly to radio listening. You can’t choose a specific song, but you can go for a genre. If you want access to Amazon’s full music library of tens of millions of songs (really, it’s extensive), you’ll need to upgrade to the Music Unlimited Plan.

Expect to pay $8 per month for the Music Unlimited plan if you’re already a Prime member, or $10 per month if you’re not part of Prime. College students who are already members of Amazon Prime can activate a major discount on the Amazon Music Unlimited plan which discounts the monthly to only $1 instead of the usual $8.

Spotify

Choose from any of Spotify’s multiple plan offerings including Free, Premium, Premium Duo, Premium Family, and Premium Student.

Spotify’s ad-supported option is completely free and may remind you of the once-popular Pandora app. That rose to fame thanks to a radio-like algorithm that sorted tunes based on preferred artists and genres. The free Spotify plan lets you listen to any song through the mobile or desktop app in exchange for enduring ads and limited ability to skip over certain songs. If commercials aren’t for you, Spotify’s premium plans are commercial-free, allow more users, and invite multiple people in the same house or office to listen at the same time.

Expect Premium to run about $10 per month, with Premium Duo and Premium Family plans running $13 and $16 per month respectively. Occasionally, you may find membership incentives and special deals, but they don’t happen frequently.

Amazon Music vs. Spotify: Special Features

Spotify Vs Amazon Music Special Featuresrd.com, Via apple.com(2), Getty Images

Amazon Music

Aside from Amazon Music’s impressive Alexa compatibility, the app’s other main feature is something called “X-Ray Lyrics.” It’s a helpful feature for hard-to-decipher songs, which allows lyrics to scroll by almost karaoke-style as the song plays. Amazon also introduced Car Mode earlier this year to provide a minimally-distracting interface that makes driving and listening an easier experience.

Spotify

Spotify’s ability to understand what you like listening to boils down to its truly advanced algorithm. Where Amazon may offer you the ability to read lyrics, Spotify is offering you the songs you know you like plus others that may not have ever hit charts but match your taste. It’s a fun way to up your coolness factor and find emerging artists, find classics from bygone eras, and expand your musical horizons. Spotify’s additional “Discover Weekly” feature and other playlists also offer a fun way to test your musical palate without being weighed down by typical top 40 radio mixes (although you can have those if you’d like).

Amazon Music vs. Spotify: App Interface

Spotify Vs Amazon Music Interfacerd.com, Via apple.com(3), Getty Images(3)

Amazon Music

The Amazon Music mobile app is easy to use and is rated well by Amazon customers. The streaming service’s desktop app offers a low-frills and somewhat bare-bones experience, on the other hand. It’s a cinch to use Amazon Music through the company’s desktop browser, though, so it’s confusing why anyone would want to download the desktop app. Stick to the Amazon Music mobile app or a desktop browser, and just skip the desktop app altogether.

Spotify

This is where Spotify really takes the cake. Spotify’s desktop app is simple to navigate and easier on the eyes than its Amazon counterpart. The Spotify desktop app is miles beyond Amazon’s and allows offline downloads, additional playlist features, and a system that makes home office listening feel like a professional-grade experience. Its mobile app is similarly configured for easy-to-use features and an uncomplicated design.

Amazon Music vs. Spotify: Sound Quality

Spotify Vs Amazon Music Sound Qualityrd.com, Via apple.com(2), Getty Images

Amazon Music

Amazon wins when it comes to paid plans because it offers CD-quality music streaming with its Music Unlimited plan memberships. Some of the Music Unlimited songs are even offered in Ultra HD, which is a marked step beyond CD quality. The truth, though, is that the average listener may not be able to detect the difference. Listening in an average set of headphones will sound similar either way, but if you like to stream music to surround-sound speakers and specialty audio equipment, it may make a major difference.

Spotify

Spotify loses this battle of Amazon Music vs. Spotify because they don’t even offer a CD-quality plan of any type. The popular service is said to be releasing a Spotify HiFi plan by the end of 2021 or early 2022, but it hasn’t happened yet.

The bottom line

Overall, the Amazon Music vs. Spotify conundrum boils down to your listening priorities. If you like the convenience of Alexa integration and already use Amazon as a Prime member, Amazon Music is likely your best bet. If you don’t already use Amazon services regularly, prefer discovering new music based on your mood and taste, or are opting for an entirely free option, Spotify is probably the right service for you. Either way, happy listening!

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Bryce Gruber
As Home Editor, Bryce Gruber covers gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce at Reader's Digest. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.