Spotify launched in South Africa on Monday afternoon – bringing its 35-million-song music catalogue to local users at last. 

You can listen to Spotify for free, and by paying R59.99 per month you'll lose the occasional ad and be able to download music. 

READ: Spotify South Africa is now live - and it is much cheaper than in the US

But the music streaming service enters an already saturated music streaming market with Apple Music (R59.99), Google Play (R 59.99) and Deezer (R59.99) offering nearly identical services. 

In three important respects, however, Spotify is better than the most popular of its rivals, Apple Music.

Spotify is free(ish).


A simple Facebook login is all that's required to gain access to most of Spotify's music catalogue on a desktop. It also gives you access to all of Spotify's discoverability features. The only major downside to the free service is that you are limited to shuffle mode on mobile. 

By comparison, with Apple Music's free version you'll get access to Apple Music's Connect features, where you are able to view and follow artists, but you won't be able to play, save or like posts. 

(Apple Music does, however, offer an impressive three month trial period – whereas Spotify only gives you a one month trail.)

Spotify owns discovery of music you never knew you'd love.

Spotify's browse page (screenshot)

Spotify's defining future is its algorithm that predicts what you'd like to listen to. It is based on your listening history and improves the more you listen. 

Spotify's radio feature builds playlists based from your preferences and continually updates as you listen to music.

The service also offers a weekly playlist, "Discover Weekly" which is a personalised two-hour-long playlist. 

Apple Music's similar New Music playlist is a bit hit and miss – and has been known to suggest arbitrary Korean pop music for no discernible reason. 


Apple also has curated playlists, but it doesn't continually update based on your music preferences like Spotify. 

Both Apple Music and Spotify offers playlists based on moods such as 'chill' or 'focus' as well as South African specific playlists. 

Spotify is integrated with Facebook; Apple Music tries to go its own way.

An Ellie Goulding post on Apple Music (screenshot)

Spotify automatically syncs with Facebook to give you a comprehensive list of friends, so you can share playlists and see what they are listening to.

Several international artists, such as Taylor Swift, also share personalised playlists on Spotify – while Apple Music is left to curate its own playlists.

Apple Music forces users to use its Connect feature to follow artists. Users are encouraged to post and comment on the platform – but most of the time Connect seems deserted, except for the occasional posts from Ellie Goulding. 

Receive a single WhatsApp message every morning with all our latest news: Sign up here

See also: