I'm ditching Spotify for Apple Music — and it's not because of Joe Rogan

Apple Music and Spotify logos on phones with AirPods between them
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The news of Neil Young leaving Spotify because of Joe Rogan's podcast didn't affect me at all. Until, that is, I started to think about its implications going forward. 

Here's the short-hand version of the story: Joe Rogan brings on a wide variety of guests, and those guests sometimes say things that aren't factually correct, and Rogan doesn't always shut them down. Young, after noticing a group of doctors petitioning Spotify, gave his record label (and the big green streaming machine) an ultimatum: either Rogan's podcast goes or my music walks. 

Spotify, which had reportedly invested more than $100 million into its deal to make The Joe Rogan Experience an exclusive to its service, did not side with Young.

And then Joni Mitchell, other music rights holders began to remove their music, and I realized it was time to delete the Spotify app from my phone. And, surprise, it has nothing to do with Joe Rogan himself, the views expressed on his podcast or Neil Young's music either. 

Spotify's new problem is about trust

Spotify is likely doing all it can right now to make sure nobody else leaves its service, whether it's because of Joe Rogan's views or anything else. In the end, the function of a streaming music service is to serve all the music you want. It's the implicit promise that Spotify and its clones were founded on.

And right now, Spotify is reminding me a lot of YouTube TV. While YouTube TV, a live TV streaming service, is one of the best cable TV alternatives, it suffered content and platform issues throughout 2021.

Whether it was the entire YouTube TV on Roku debacle or how it almost lost NBCUniversal-owned channels and actually lost Disney-owned channels for part of a weekend, YouTube TV felt like a car whose engine wouldn't always start right. It felt like I would log into work looking for the latest piece of YouTube TV drama to cover, as if I was a TMZ reporter looking for news about Pete Davidson's latest breakup or partner.

And at this point, sticking with Spotify feels like rolling that dice daily. And, sure, I could leave when the music of an artist I care about disappears, but I don't want to wait, because the more time I spend only on Spotify, the more I'm investing in building playlists I can't just copy and paste into Apple Music (my other preferred service). At the very least, Spotify has made its content policies publicly available.

Oh, and because I've got two other reasons to prefer Apple Music.

I just want music, and Apple Music respects that

Sure, Spotify has its highly-shareable Wrapped recaps at the end of the year. And I really wish Apple would just copy the homework a bit better next time, but the Apple Music app is better for me in one key way: it has no podcasts.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love podcasts. I've even written about some of my favorites in our best podcasts list. At the same time, though? I already use one of the best podcast apps with Overcast, which is far cleaner and more elegant and fully-featured than Spotify's attempts at pushing podcasts is.

I get it, Spotify. You care a lot about podcasts, and you know people love them. But as I've tweeted before, I don't want a podcast app in my music app. Forcing that integration wastes whole sections of an already already-crowded user interface.

Apple knows better from its iTunes days, and it split Podcasts (and TV and movies) out into its own separate app (which is fine for most, but not my favorite). This means the Apple Music app is just for music, which is the experience I want.

Spotify still doesn't let me bring my own music either

Then there's the "one more thing" of it all. The feature that makes Apple Music something I've paid for even when I'm playing around with Spotify (if all other things are equal, Wrapped is still cooler than Apple's own year in review).

The big Apple Music feature I still love is the iCloud Music Library, a cloud storage service that integrates your own MP3s into your Apple Music account. In an era where not all music is even licensed for streaming services, Apple's option for you to upload your own stuff to listen to anywhere is a huge differential.

That said, a warning provided by friends: back up your originals. A friend tells me Apple Music once replaced their copies with different versions, changing out a studio release for a live album. I've never had that happen personally, and just double-checked that the Fiona Apple album I mention below doesn't have that issue.

There aren't a ton of unlicensed albums I spin a lot — Girl Talk's "All Day," Frank Ocean's "Nostalgia, Ultra" and the leaked version of Fiona Apple's "Extraordinary Machines" are the first few to come to mind — but Spotfiy doesn't have any of those albums. And as a collector I take some comfort in knowing that I'm not stuck to just the music we're all "renting" as a part of our monthly tithe. 

And at the end of the day, it's all about the music. Not the podcasts, not the drama. But if I'm paying for a service for music, I want that music to be kept as a priority.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

  • RandomTallGuy
    While this take is your take on all of this, it made little reason or sense to me. To each their own, I'm indifferent and I'm using Spotify and YouTube TV only because they are far and away the absolute best at what they both do.
  • Doomie
    Srry but I use 6 music services (yes it's a lot but it's a vice). Apple music is probably the worst of them. Spotify is the best for playlists. Tidal is the best for hifi. YouTube music is good If you like some playlists but also wanna see music videos. Amazon prime music also does well with playlists but not from consumers their own in house people. Deezer is kind of the middle of the road.

    I have the utmost faith that when you start using apple music more you'll see you'll drift to different services.
  • uni11
    It's wrong that you can't bring your own music to Spotify. It has a "Local Files" feature where you can sync folders on your computer with your own MP3s and download them to your phone and play in the Spotify app along with their streaming music. Also, there are a number of online apps that can transfer playlists from one streaming music service to another that make it easy to switch services.
  • Another random tall guy
    Siri’s integration with /ability to control Apple Music on iPhones is getting worse, not better, with each major IOS update since IOS 14 was released and started the decline. Apple Music only recently created a music discovery feature by expanding playlists with suggestions after the playlist runs out, but their algorithm is paltry in comparison to Spotify in my experience. Their previous solution for music suggestions were suggesting similar artists and the two “New Music” playlists they automatically populate for you. Spotify’s features are more streamlined, intuitive, and provide better music discovery experiences. That’s why I finally turned off Apple Music after 3 years this month.