Spotify vs. Google Music Play (GPM)

[UPDATE 7/10/2015]
This guy wrote a more clear (better) article on the same topic:
Now that I have learned Spotify a little better, there are certain things I am missing from GPM, one of them is the radio. The automatic radio stations on GPM are not an option in Spotify, like I had initially believed. I might be switching back for this…but I don’t know yet. Spotify is my app for the time being.
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I was keeping this note in my Evernote, and figured it might be useful to someone else.
I am still in a trial period with Spotify, and I won’t really make a full move until that is over…so in a couple months. But if you want a quick answer, I recommend Spotify over GPM, but it isn’t an outright winner, GPM is better for certain things.
Price: Equal $9.99/mo.
  • Google wins. I don’t have a rigorous method, but I don’t need one. I was searching for an artist and a song. Putting the words in random order still gets you to the thing you are looking for in Google play. Spotify returns the artist, but not the song. And when I searched for both at the same time, nothing came up.
    • Search querry: “Boyz Noize Avalanche” stumped Spotify, Google didn’t even blink.
Sound Quality:
  • At first listen I thought that Spotify might sound better, but when I made sure the volumes were the same and ran through a number of tracks, I concluded that if there are differences, I can’t distinguish.
  • At second glance, there is a feature to turn up the quality in spotify, so my test to compare was gpm  to the lowest quality stream in spotify, so spotify has higher quality sound.
Liking music: TBD. 
  • Spotify has a starred playlist, but it is hard to get to, and it doesn’t seem like you are able to even star a song in the Android app. It’s too much effort, one way or the other.
  • I have really enjoyed using the GPM to create a “moving playlist”. I simply hit the thumbs up, and voila, it goes to my playlist, thumbs down takes it off. The mechanism is so simple  that I have really grown to appreciate this feature.
  • Spotify has artist tracking…which is great, I currently have songkick to do this for me, so GPM is a bit harder to like an artist without actually adding something of that artists’ work to your library…which then makes your library harder to navigate because it is larger.

Curated Playlists

  • Spotify seems to have this one. Spotify simply has more stations that show up when you start looking. It also does a better job of laying them out by mood or genre. GPM has a tonne of radio stations, and no great way to interface with them. They seem to give you some stock ones that are good, but there isn’t a great catolouge of something to really explore.
  • More on playlists in GPM. COM allows you to save any playlist you are listening to for offline use, Spotify doesn’t let you save radio stations.

Random Playlist

  • TBD the randomly generated playlists by GPM are very impressive, they don’t mix genres, so the flow is good. And I have discovered a lot of great music with this.
  • Since this is a machine learning thing, I have to give Spotify more data before I can fairly compare these two features…
    • but my gut tells me GPM will win this, just because they are likely better at programming machine learning algos…they already have better search, after all. But who knows. If Spotify has more users, which I believe it does, they might have better data to program from…how well that translates to the individual is questionable. And ultimately it will be a hard category to evaluate…since it depends on my emotional reaction to the playlist anyway.
  • As previously mentioned, Gpm lets you save radio playlists, and download them for offline use, not so with spotify
  • Friends (local musicians) are in gpm but not spotify, could be a function of how new spotify is to Canada.
  • Spotify in theory has more music, but in practice both libraries are so large that this feature just doesn’t matter in a shootout.

Organizing music

  • Neither service is a clear winner.
  • GPM  As I mentioned has a really simple thumbs up/down tool, and I love this feature
  • Both let you save albums, artists, songs
    • Adding songs automatically adds them to your albums
    • Adding albums automatically adds all tracks to your songs
    • I don’t like this, as I don’t want to browse through single-song albums nor do I want my songs playlist to be more about singles than the less “stand alone” tracks that populate many albums
  • Both let you create as many playlists as you want, but doing so adds songs to your library, which then makes it harder to navigate
  • Biggest issue these streaming sites both have is the lack of a smart (programmed) way to keep your weaker interests out of the search of your favourites. But Google’s thumbs up is a genius step in the right direction


Google Has Better Site Navigation

  • Spotify has a more complex menu system, GPM only gives you that card display to go through your music
    • Btw the classic iTunes triple list system is still the gold standard for me…but it’s not a streaming service yet
  • It’s a bit tedious to navigate from the artist page to the album page to the song page in Spotify, GPM is much more simple.