(Pocket-lint) - The rise of Amazon Music Unlimited has gone hand-in-hand with the explosion in the use of Amazon Echo speakers and Alexa, its digital assistant. It integrates seamlessly with Echo devices, while also working just like any other streaming service on your phone and other devices.
Spotify is probably the first service you think of when you think of music streaming - it's been around the longest, integrates with loads of services, and has some very clever features.
But which service is best for you - Amazon Music or Spotify? We've looked at the features of both, how much Spotify and Amazon Music cost, and how you can access them to help you make your ultimate decision: Spotify or Amazon Music Unlimited?
Amazon Music Unlimited vs Spotify: Prices compared
Amazon Music Unlimited is available with several different pricing tiers available. To help you get to grips with Amazon Music Unlimited and to decide if it's the right service for you, Amazon offers a 30-day free trial.
If you don't subscribe to Amazon Prime, a Music Unlimited membership will cost you £9.99/$9.99 a month, but if you do have a Prime account then you'll only pay £7.99/£7.99 a month or £79/$79 for the whole year.
Amazon also offers a membership for £3.99/$3.99 a month but you can only stream music through the Echo speaker or Echo Dot. Note that you can only use the £3.99 month Echo membership on a single Echo device and it can't be transferred. If you have multiple Echo devices in your home and want to use Amazon Music Unlimited with all of them, you'll need a regular individual membership. There's also a Student membership at $4.99.
A Family membership is available for £14.99/$14.99 a month for up to 6 family members or £149/$149 for a year.
Spotify has a much simpler pricing structure with just three tiers: a free, ad-supported tier and a Premium tier that costs £9.99/$9.99 month. Again, there's a 30-day free trial.
Spotify also offers offer a family subscription plan which costs £14.99/$14.99 month for you and up to five family members. Each member gets their own personal account.
Students can also get a discounted membership for just £4.99, but they have to sign up through UniDays or NUS Extra.
Amazon Music Unlimited vs Spotify: Devices
While Amazon Music can be played on a wide range of devices, it's in connectivity that Spotify has a killer feature - Spotify Connect. And even though Amazon now has Alexa Cast - enabling you to cast to a variety of Alexa or Bluetooth devices from within the Music Unlimited app - it's not quite as flexible as Spotify Connect.
Spotify Connect enables you to control what is playing on any Spotify Connect device or Spotify app, from any other. That means you can use your desktop app to control Spotify on your Echo, you can pause it on your phone, find something else and play that on your PC instead. Each app gets to control the music wherever it's playing.
Amazon Music Unlimited is accessible through the Amazon Music app. The app can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices, as well as Mac and PC. You can also access it through a Web player in your browser and through the company's Echo devices and Fire tablets. You can also play music through a Sonos multi-room system or Roku media streamer.
Amazon has also said that select BMW and Mini cars are Amazon Music-enabled and provide access to the service through its infotainment system when connected to a smartphone.
Spotify is available almost everywhere, there's an app for iOS, Android, PC and Mac but is available via Spotify Connect on a list of devices that's almost too long to put here. You can get a Spotify app on select TVs from Panasonic, LG, Sony, Samsung, B&O and Philips while Spotify works with stacks of audio products including those from Bose, Sonos, Onkyo, Denon, Yamaha, Pionner, Naim, Libratone and Revo.
A wide range of car manufacturers, as well as Uber, have either built-in access via Spotify Connect, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. The Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox One have apps for Spotify, along with Google Chromecast and Chromecast Audio. Check out this full list of Spotify Connect Devices.
We've mentioned both on Amazon Echo devices - while Amazon Music is slightly better integrated, Spotify plays natively too, so there isn't a huge difference in experience.
And, naturally, you can always stream either from your phone to a Bluetooth speaker or another Bluetooth-enabled device.
Amazon Music Unlimited vs Spotify: Which offers better sound?
Amazon hasn't revealed the streaming bitrate quality of its library, but we'd have a guess and say it will be 320kbps as this would put it on par with Spotify.
Spotify reserves 320kbps streaming for its Premium tier. It's called "extreme quality" on mobile. If you use the free tier and listen on a mobile, you can choose between 96kbps normal quality or 160kbps high quality. The same 160kbps streams are called standard quality on a computer.
However, Amazon also offers a premium tier called Amazon Music HD, which unlocks lossless music at a higher quality, for audiophiles. It's pricier, and has a more limited library, but is a great way to get higher-quality audio, so that's a major leg-up over Spotify for now.
Amazon Music Unlimited vs Spotify: Other features
Both Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify offer personalised radio stations based on artists and tracks you like.
Both have mood-based playlists and a list of auto-generated stations and you can also choose to start a station based on an artist or song you're currently listening to. These can also be accessed on Echo devices.
Both services will let you create your own custom playlists you can then share with friends, or you can save curated ones to your collection.
Amazon's Music app and the web player have a recommended section which serves up albums and playlists that it things you'll like based on your listening habits. The Music app itself has had a major redesign, and now claims to make music discovery easier than ever before.
Spotify meanwhile has a feature called Discover Weekly, which is an automatically curated playlist of songs that it thinks you'll like based on your listening habits. It's updated every Monday morning and from our experience, we've always liked what we've heard.
Because of the integration with Echo devices, Amazon Music Unlimited can be used with Alexa. You can ask Alexa all manner of questions to get the music you want, such as "play music for a dinner party" or "play Britney Spears greatest hits" and so on.
Spotify has no built-in assistant as such, but can be controlled with Alexa or Google Assistant - so you can simply ask for the music you want "on Spotify" and it will play.
Both Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify offer offline playback. Amazon offers it as standard but you can only download songs from Spotify if you subscribe to the Premium tier.
Amazon Music Unlimited vs Spotify: Which is best?
If you already have an Amazon Prime membership and you've bought an Echo speaker or Echo Dot, paying just £3.99 a month makes it incredibly worthwhile if you just want playback on your Echo - certainly cheaper than paying for a full Spotify subscription. And the cheaper price for Prime members mean Amazon Music Unlimited is a no-brainer if you already have a Prime membership.
But if you aren't within the Amazon ecosystem already then Spotify is our pick. Spotify is available almost everywhere and offers a free tier. It's worth noting that while the free tier still lets you listen to Spotify's entire music catalogue, it does come with some limitations on where and how you can play your music, restricting downloads and so on.
It helps that Spotify is incredibly easy to use, sounds good and has some incredibly useful music discovery features. We also rate Spotify Connect - it's the best system if you have a range of different speaker types.
Also why not check out these Spotify tips and tricks, if you want to level up your experience.