App Analysis on Music App

A comparison of Spotify, Apple Music and NetEase Music

Brief Introduction

 

Spotify is launched since 2008 and available in most of the Europe, most of the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia. Apple Music is developed by Apple Inc. launched in 2015 and available in over 100 countries worldwide. NetEase Music is developed by NetEase Inc. launched in 2013 and it is only available for users in mainland China. All of them support platforms including Windows, Mac, IOS and Android and NetEase also has a web version besides the above.

 

Resources

 

I listen to songs in English, Korean, and Mandarin. Based on my personal experience, Apple Music with US account has the most inclusive collection of music that officially released in albums among the three. NetEase Music is more comprehensive when it comes to live or cover versions, though it may be because of the less strict copyright regulations in China.


 

Freemium

 

Spotify provides both free service which allows streaming only and premium service that allows for offline listen, ad-free experience, and higher quality audio. The first three-month of premium costs only 0.99 USD per month and after that it will be 9.99 USD per month. It also has family plan at 14.99 USD and student plan at 4.99 USD.

 

Apple Music has a simpler but harder paywall. Users have to choose to join one of the plans from 9.99 USD per month individual plan, 4.99 USD student plan or 14.99 USD family plan before the start of the service. Whichever plan chosen, there is a three-month trial.

 

For NetEase Music, users can still enjoy most of the service for free while there are some songs (probably those NetEase paid more for copyrights) that are exclusively available for members. The membership costs around 2 USD per month.

 

Availability

 

Apple Music is available all over the world while the resources are related to which region the account is set to. For example, I am using Apple Music with an Apple ID registered in US and it is quite resourceful; on the contrary, if I use my apple ID registered in China, the resources become very limited. Something that bothers me is that, when I need to switch from my US account to Chinese account, the downloaded music and the library that I set up with so many efforts will just be gone.

 

Spotify allows free plan users to use the service overseas for 14 days or change the country which the account is registered in to continue using overseas. For premium users, streaming and download service can be used anywhere and anytime.

 

NetEase Music is strictly only available to users geographically in China. When I am not in China, the app can detect my IP address and all resources will turn gray for streaming and downloaded music will be removed.

Features

 

All the three Apps have music, video, and radio functionalities while Spotify integrates Podcast providing audio content beyond music such as news and storytelling. This will be a promising start to build Spotify into a place where users think of at the first second when looking for any audio content.

 

Spotify also has a functionality to connect with different devices, such as Speaker, Laptop, or TV, which allows users to operate on smartphones while playing music on other devices.

 

NetEase Music goes beyond music provider to an emphasis on social feature. You can follow your friends or get followed. It also includes an in-App social page where you can share the music with images and comments to your friends, or join public discussion. For each song, there is a comment sector where people write about their thoughts or feelings about the songs or like other people’s comments. The comment sector is hidden from music playing interface and can be navigated through a button, which keeps the interface clean and keep it to who want it.

NetEase Music also has a feature where you can schedule to stop the music in 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or any customized time. This feature is helpful for those who want to listen to music as they sleep.  

 

NetEase Music also integrates a functionality similar to SoundHound which helps you to recognize the name and artist of the song currently playing nearby.


 

Also NetEase Music has a driving mode which minimize the interface, leaving only information of name and artist of the song, and buttons of play, previous, next, and quit. This is to keep drivers least distracted from when driving.

 

NetEase Music Comment Interface

NetEase Music Driver Mode Interface

Personalization

 

Among the three Apps NetEase Music is doing the best in personalization. Many people have shared how much they like the personalized suggestion NetEase provides since it is so accurately matching their taste and bringing them new songs. It is much stronger than recommending songs that from the artists you have listened to, or songs from the same label you listened to. A lot of the time, it can recommend me songs that I’ve even never heard about and know nothing about the artist or the label, while surprisingly find it 100% match my taste. I tried to research on the algorithm that NetEase Music uses for personalization and people speculate that it uses “Latent Factor” and “Similarity Matrix” what are people that have similar taste with you listening, and people having more overlap with you in past analytics will have a higher weight in the prediction. This kind of algorithm requires a large user base and definitely NetEase Music is doing an excellent job.

 

Spotify has a huge number of user base as well and the categories are very detailed. It helps niche users to find music that matches their taste easily. While for more creative personalization, it still needs better analytics and algorithm.

 

Though I am a big fan of Apple, the personalization provided by Apple Music is too reserved. It either consists of songs that I listened to before but did not add to library, or a playlist of songs from an artist I liked, or a playlist roughly summarized by time, such as “Hip-Hop hits in 2012”. Sincerely wish Apple can be more creative in personalization.

 

UI/UX Design

Home Interface

Spotify Home Interface

NetEase Music Home Interface

Apple Music Interface

All three Apps use a bottom tab bar to navigate. Spotify and NetEase Music start with recommendation while Apple music starts with your own library. I can see the efforts that Apple wants to emphasize its synchronization service across different devices. Spotify suggests songs that you recently played while for NetEase Music it is by chance to see songs you listened to but did not like or did not finish listening then.

In Spotify, users interact with the homepage by both scrolling up/down among categories and swiping left/right within a category and it delivers the content in a more hierarchical and organized way. On the contrary, in NetEase Music organize all the content in a vertical structure with scroll up/down gestures only; though it is comprehensive with recommendations from playsists to MVs, from columns to radios, the list is too long and users usually just ignore the bottom content.

Apple Music organizes the library in playlists, artists, albums, songs and downloaded music, and scroll down to see the list of recently added songs. The list consists 60 songs with their album cover. It is too long and not very meaningful since people usually only care about the most recently added several songs, not the 60th recently added song.  

Music Playing Interface

Spotify Music Playing Interface

NetEase Music Music Playing Interface

Apple Music Music Playing Interface

All three music Apps show the name and artist of current playing song with operation buttons.

 

In Spotify you simply tap on the add to library button and then all the songs will be downloaded automatically if you turn on the download settings in library. The good thing about this is that it is really easy to download all songs added to your library instead of clicking on download one by one.

 

In NetEase Music, your library is organized in different playlists consisting of songs both downloaded and not downloaded and there is another playlist saving all downloaded songs. In the music playing interface, “like” and “download” are separate. You can simply like the song and listen to it in streaming. If you want to download a song, you need to choose a playlist to download to or simply choose the playlist called “liked songs” which will automatically “like” the song too.

 

In Apple Music, you need to add the song first and organize it to any playlist later. If you want to download the song, you need to add the song to library first, and then the button will be replaced with a download button.

 

Personally I like the way that NetEase Music organizes songs into playlists and separates “like” and “download”. However, if I want to download multiple songs that in my playlist, I need to click and choose “download” from the dropdown menu one by one, which in this term Spotify is easier. Another issue is, if I liked a song without downloading it and I forgot which playlist I put it into, the only way to find the song is to search from the very beginning. NetEase Music provides much customization while it requires the users to be more organized themselves.

Up Next List

Spotify and NetEase Music both have button to see what is playing up next. For Apple Music, users scroll to the bottom to see what is up next. In Spotify users can both remove or adjust the sequence of songs; in Apple Music you can change the sequence of the songs only while in NetEase Music you can remove the songs only. In this aspect, Spotify is giving users the most freedom to manage the up next list.

Lyrics

When it comes to the lyrics, NetEase Music has rolling lyrics with the current sentence highlighted if tapping on the album cover section. For songs not in Chinese, it shows the lyrics and song name both in the original language and its translation. Apple Music has static lyrics below the operation buttons. For songs not in English, it only shows in its original  language. Though on https://support.spotify.com/us/using_spotify/features/can-i-see-lyrics-on-spotify/ it gives instructions on how to turn on lyrics on Spotify, it seems not to work, at least on IOS.

NetEase Music Lyrics Interface

Apple Music Lyrics Interface

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​© 2017 by Nicole Zhaoqi Zhong