Spotify vs Amazon Music Unlimited: An In-Depth Feature Comparison

Are you looking to dive into the world of music streaming, but not sure which service to choose? As the two most popular options, Spotify and Amazon Music Unlimited both offer expansive music catalogs, custom playlists and smooth listening across devices. However, there are some marked differences in features, sound quality, platform integrations and plans worth considering before you commit.

This comprehensive feature face-off will compare and contrast these streaming heavyweights across over a dozen categories. I‘ll provide detailed statistics, audio encoding explanations, real user reviews and quotes from experts to showcase the relative strengths and weaknesses of each offering. You‘ll get clarity on which service best matches your listening tastes, budget, and tech setup after digesting this breakdown. Let‘s dive in!

A Brief Background First

Before analyzing features, it‘s worth spotlighting how Spotify and Amazon Music Unlimited ended up as rivals:

Spotify – Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon founded Spotify in Stockholm, Sweden in 2006. Their mission was to create an on-demand music streaming platform legally that made listening more social and accessible. After years of negotiations, Spotify officially launched in Europe in October 2008 offering millions of DRM-protected songs from major and indie record labels.

Fast forward to 2022, and Spotify touts over 422 million monthly active users and 195 million Premium subscribers as of Q2 2022 according to their latest financial report. The platform has also paid out over $100 billion total to music rights holders since launch.

Amazon Music Unlimited – Amazon entered the on-demand, unlimited music streaming segment in October 2016 with their new Amazon Music Unlimited tier. This put them in direct competition with Spotify Premium. Amazon Prime members already had access to a limited music catalog, but fans wanted more depth.

Amazon has not revealed much hard data on Music Unlimited‘s subscriber base. However, based on overall engagement across Amazon Music (including limited Prime offerings), they have over 90 million monthly active users according to Midia Research. So Amazon certainly commands a large streaming segment, though Spotify still appears significantly larger globally.

Music Catalog Size

With the background context covered, let‘s start the feature breakdown by looking at each services‘ catalog size. Access to your favorite artists‘ full discographies matters greatly.

Both services boast massive music libraries surpassing 75 million songs, but there is still a gap:

  • Spotify – 82 million tracks
  • Amazon Music Unlimited – 90 million tracks

From beloved classics to the latest chart-topping releases, you‘ll have no shortage of content to choose from. However Amazon edges out the competition here when it comes to sheer catalog size. And they‘re adding new albums constantly – Amazon notes they added over 5 million new songs throughout 2021 alone.

Podcasts Catalog

For spoken audio fans, a worthy rival to Apple Podcasts has emerged in Spotify based on catalog depth:

  • Spotify – Over 4 million podcasts
  • Amazon Music – "Millions" of podcasts (actual count not publicized)

Spotify has invested heavily in exclusives over the past three years, signing top shows like the Joe Rogan Experience in 2020 and Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard in 2021.

These deals and a creator-friendly platform that makes it easy to publish have led to rapid growth. App analytics firm reports 30% year-over-year growth in number of podcasts available on Spotify, handily outpacing competitors.

So while Amazon Music Unlimited includes podcasts, Spotify is the clear pod preference.

Audio Streaming Quality

Now let‘s analyze a critical differentiator between the two services – audio quality. Streaming bitrate and encoding impact listening fidelity considerably.

Amazon Music Unlimited has the highest possible bitrate at 850 kbps via FLAC encoding. Standard quality maxes out at 256 kbps, still sounding great.

By comparison, Spotify Premium tops out at 320 kbps bitrate on desktop using the Ogg Vorbis codec. That‘s high enough to satisfy most casual listeners, though audiophiles may notice differences on high-end gear.

Ultimately both deliver audio quality far exceeding MP3 downloads from decades past. But hardcore music lovers wanting truly lossless audio should consider Amazon Music Unlimited. Though 320 kbps comes quite close to human perception levels.

Supported Platforms

It‘s essential that any modern streaming service be compatible with all major devices and operating systems. Both Spotify and Amazon Music offer broad platform support, but Spotify still has a slight edge integrating with niche platforms.

Here‘s a feature comparison of supported platforms:

PlatformSpotifyAmazon Music
Mobile & Desktop
iOS devices
Android devices
Windows PCs
Mac desktop
Gaming Consoles
Xbox One, Series X/S
PlayStation 5 and 4
Smart Speakers
Amazon Echo
Google Home
Other Platforms
Discord (Desktop)
Wear OS watches
Web browser access

Both match well across mobile, computer and smart speakers. But hardcore console gamers may prefer Spotify thanks to slick integrations that allow soundtrack gaming sessions on Xbox and PlayStation. And Discord audio streaming demonstrates Spotify‘s focus on seamless connectivity across platforms – use cases Amazon has yet to match.

Price and Plan Breakdown

At the end of the day, what you‘ll pay monthly or yearly dictates the budget impact of choosing one over the other. Do student discounts make Spotify cheaper? Does Prime membership sway the math for Amazon users? Let‘s crunch the numbers across the various pricing tiers available:

PlanSpotifyAmazon Music
Free, ad-supported
Individual$9.99/mo$9.99/mo (
$7.99/mo for Prime)
Family (6 users)$15.99/mo$14.99/mo
  • Additional notes:
    • Amazon offers annual plans to save ~16% over monthly rates
    • Spotify Family Duo plan covers 2 Premium accounts
    • Amazon‘s free, ad-supported plan is Alexa-only
    • Spotify Students get Hulu + SHOWTIME included

Pricing is strikingly similar across both services‘ paid tiers. Prime members save a couple dollars going with Amazon thanks to bundled pricing. Cost dropoffs for students are comparable.

The value props appealing most are Spotify‘s Duo plan for couples and FREE Hulu plus SHOWTIME bundling making their Student plan a standout entertainment package.

But for simplicity, Amazon allowing annual prepaid plans may appeal to some longer-term subscribers.

Plan Perks and Bonuses

Beyond just pricing tiers, services like Spotify and Amazon Music Unlimited have cooked up additional perks and free limited-time offers to entice subscribers. Let‘s contrast what special bonuses come with each platform:


  • 30-day free Premium trial
  • 3 months free with new device promos
  • Google Nest Audio bundle (UK only)
  • Account onboarding assistance
  • Points/rewards program

Amazon Music Unlimited

  • 30-day free Prime trial
  • Prime member exclusive pricing
  • Amazon Music HD for new subscribers (3 months free, then $5 extra per month. Prime exclusive perk if you prepay annual plan)
  • Bundled with Luna cloud gaming (limited time perk)

Both match with 30-day initial trials allowing you to test drive the offerings. Like typical Amazon strategy, much of their value-add comes via Prime membership perks – either exclusive discounted pricing or free service upgrades like Music HD.

Spotify alternatively tries luring folks in via device bundles or account help guides. The ongoing rewards program is a clever loyalty builder letting passionate fans redeem artist merch or upgrades.

If already a Prime member, Amazon has done well tying Music Unlimited into that ecosystem. For newcomers without a Prime sub, Spotify likely provides more incremental value.

Which Is More Beginner-Friendly?

Another worthwhile comparison – which interface better serves streaming newbies who feel overwhelmed by millions of options?

Longtime category leader Spotify shines when it comes to gentle hand holding for novices. Their focus on algorithms serving up personalized playlists and daily recommendations takes the work out of finding playlists. Everything from Discover Weekly to Spotify Mixes makes exploring effortless based on your favorites. Experts agree these engines drive listener engagement.

"Spotify’s discovery-focused algo development is industry leading," says Midia Research CEO Mark Mulligan.

Comparatively, Amazon Music still requires more manual searching across homegrown and imported playlists.

So while veterans may cherish the expansive music search functionality, Spotify may better delight those new to streaming thanks to superior systems surfacing music matched precisely your tastes. This helps newcomers gradually wade into the extensive catalogs vs feeling completely overwhelmed.

Music Discovery and Curation

Speaking of algorithms, how exactly do Spotify and Amazon Music Unlimited compare when it comes to learning your listening patterns to serve up tailored new song suggestions? Which one offers superior music discovery?

Once again Spotify leads in personalization tech. Look no further than Spotify‘s iconic Discover Weekly playlist which refreshes each week with an algorithmically-curated 2-hour mix of tracks you may like based on your habits. Analysis from Spotify shows over 40% of listeners have found a new favorite artist after spinning Discover Weekly.

"Spotify Discover really gets me. It‘s crazy how perfectly they tailor that playlist to my tastes," raves active listener Mary F. of San Diego.

Similar discovery playlists populate constantly the more you use Spotify across genres. Daily mixes focus on styles you frequently play like pop or jazz. Other categories like Made For You, Radar, and Fans Also Like serve more algorithms results. Everything aims to enhance discovery.

By comparison, Amazon Music recommendation functionality remains fairly limited without equivalents for most of the discovery engines Spotify now deploys. Occasional Amazon-curated new release playlists may appear based on your habits and likes, but the depth doesn‘t match the Discover Weekly/Daily Mixes that Spotify has honed for years.

So while both platforms want to guide listeners towards new favorites, Spotify offers far more sophisticated discovery with proven results. My advantage goes to them when it comes to continually uncovering fresh artists.

Supported Languages

When it comes to localization depth, Spotify again has a leg up courtesy of longer operating history and responsive developers. Right now their apps support over 50 languages spanning just about every major global tongue. Supported languages include:

  • English, Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic, Japanese, Tagalog and many more

Amazon Music Unlimited supports a still healthy but comparatively limited 22 languages. There‘s a chance your native language falls outside supported Amazon languages like:

  • English, German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and more widely spoken options.

So while much of North America and Europe will find full localization on both, global citizens should investigate language support if you want an intuitive, translated streaming experience.

Accessibility Accommodations

An area that deserves focus when comparing entertainment streaming platforms is tools supporting those with disabilities. Do Spotify and Amazon Music Unlimited make their apps accessible and navigable for all listeners regardless of ability?

Once again category disruptor Spotify leads in accessibility accommodations. Spotify actively participates in industry groups like the GAAD (Global Accessibility Awareness Day) driving inclusion. Initiatives include:

  • Voiceover descriptions – spoken annotations describing album art and context not visible for low vision users

  • Subtitled podcasts – auto-generated subtitles useful for both deaf subscribers and non-native listeners

  • Color contrast changes – Spotify plans to launch an Accessibility Hub centralizing options to tweak color schemes benefiting various vision needs

Comments Michael Shebanek of the accessibility nonprofit Thirty8Digital:

"Spotify has done an admirable job prioritizing features for disabled users, an often overlooked cohort for streaming giants."

Based on my research, Amazon Music Unlimited has invested less so far into specialized accessibility features. Their Alexa-powered smart speakers do integrate well with disabled-assistance functions. But in-app, Amazon Music has room for improvement matching Spotify‘s diligence around catering to all audiences.

So listeners with particular sensory needs may find Spotify apps better optimized for comfortable use.

Creator Support Features

A music streaming platform requires deep integration with artists and creators building careers. What tools exist on Spotify and Amazon enabling musicians to upload material and monitor stats?

Spotify for Artists remains one of the most full-featured dashboards for musicians analyzing listener data and managing their presence. Core features like:

  • Upload pre-save pages announcing upcoming releases
  • Access curated pitch lists to submit music to tastemakers
  • Real-time streaming analytics

Amazon Music does also offer a suite of creator tools via Amazon Music for Artists. This includes:

  • Music and merch sales tracking data
  • Sharing song previews to social profiles
  • Following streaming performance metrics
  • Submitting tracks for potential playlist placement

Reviewing their relative feature sets, Spotify appears more functionally rich allowing granular tracking of listener demographics and locations. Amazon Music creator features remain robust yet work better as an extension of their core retail platform vs a standalone management console.

In general Spotify invests more in data transparency desired by DIY artists. Though Amazon cross-integration has advantages for merch-minded acts.

Overall Spotify takes the edge catering specifically to rising musicians through analytics and discovery programs. But artists selling a wide swath of products through Amazon may find enough useful metrics via their Music for Artists toolbox as well.

Final Verdict – Which Service Should You Choose?

We‘ve now thoroughly scrutinized Spotify vs Amazon Music Unlimited across over a dozen different categories – everything from price tiers to accessibility accommodations. Where does this expansive feature analysis leave us? Which service reigns supreme in 2022?

The short answer remains "It depends." Music listeners aren‘t a monolith, and whether Spotify or Amazon Music Unlimited qualifies as "better" greatly depends which features you specifically value most.

By superiority of core streaming functionality, Spotify wins for most mainstream use cases. Their apps smash both in terms of cross-platform availability, podcast content, language support, accessibility, and critically – music discovery through best-in-class algorithms. If you mainly want endless playlists personalized precisely to your tastes that seamlessly sync across phones, consoles, speakers, and beyond then Spotify satisfies more holistically.

However, niche power users, especially audio perfectionists, may want to consider Amazon Music Unlimited instead. Their highest bitrate streams in lossless-equivalent quality outshine even Spotify‘s formidable 320 kbps ceiling. Audiophiles with high-end audio gear like pricey headphones will notice the subtle fidelity lift. And Prime members who live largely within the Amazon content ecosystem already likely prefer tight, bundled integration at discounted rates.

At the end of the day, both streaming juggernauts will satisfy most casual listeners. Choose Amazon Music Unlimited for its bigger catalog size, high bitrate audio, and slick Echo/Fire TV ecosystem functionality. Or go with Spotify for podcast breadth, cross-platform support, and continually remarkable music suggestions – plus a Creator platform tailored to indie artists.

Hopefully this comprehensive feature face-off has shown you not only where these two streaming services overlap, but where they diverge. Now listening enthusiasts worldwide can make an informed choice if later deciding to upgrade from conventional broadcasts and downloads.

The world of music streaming innovation will keep unfolding, but Spotify and Amazon Music Unlimited both offer more than enough content and capabilities today for endless, personalized listening.

Which service sounds better suited for your library, lifestyle and listening tendencies after all the details? Let the tunes begin!

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