How to quit Spotify without losing your music

Leaving the popular music platform can be easier than you might think

(Spotify/iStock/Washington Post Illustration)
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To some people, Spotify is just the green button on their phones that lets them play music. But for others, it’s the focal point of a larger conversation about how platforms can shape our culture and the role they should play in curbing misinformation.

That conversation came to a head recently when musician Neil Young demanded that Spotify remove his music because the service was “spreading fake information about vaccines,” by way of provocative interviews and statements from podcaster Joe Rogan. Not long after, Joni Mitchell asked Spotify to remove all her music, while researcher Brené Brown said she would stop releasing episodes of her Spotify exclusive podcasts “until further notice.”

The backlash against Spotify has also inspired some of the service’s users to jump ship, though the company doesn’t exactly make it easy.

Spotify’s massive reach — it had 406 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter — meant it could turn popular podcasts like “Heavyweight” and “Armchair Expert” into exclusive properties. Entire social communities have developed around the Spotify playlists some people have created, which some might hesitate to give up on. And let’s not forget that Spotify doesn’t offer any tools to help you migrate your carefully curated music collection anywhere else. But if you do decide to give up on Spotify — no matter the reason — making the switch can be easier than you think.

In one way, Spotify’s enormous influence is a good thing for would-be switchers. That’s because the service is a big enough target that its competitors — not to mention some independent programmers — have cooked up ways for people to transfer their playlists and music libraries to other services.

Here’s our guide to the other streaming options you may want to consider and how easy they are to get started with.

Apple Music

Price: $9.99 a month for individuals; $14.99 for families

If you use any Apple products regularly, Apple Music is perhaps the obvious choice — the service comes preloaded on basically all of them. Ubiquity isn’t the only thing Apple Music has going for it, though — in addition to its full music library, you can sync up to 100,000 of your own songs (i.e. ones you didn’t pay Apple for) across your collection of Apple devices.

And while audiophiles generally turn their noses up at streaming services, nearly all of the music we’ve searched for on Apple Music is available at better-sounding “lossless” quality at no additional cost. Granted, none of Apple’s wireless ear buds or headphones — including the pricey AirPods Max — technically support it, but it’s a nice bonus for people who obsess over their music.

Just a heads-up: Apple Music’s voice plan is half the price of a standard subscription, but it probably doesn’t make sense as your sole music plan.

What about podcasts? Most of them live in Apple’s Podcasts app, which is separate from the company’s main music app. That said, Apple’s podcast content guidelines note that the company doesn’t allow “content that may lead to harmful or dangerous outcomes,” and that the company may “label” — or in some cases, completely remove — podcasts that contain “harmful or objectionable content that is disputed by authoritative sources.”

If you need your music everywhere, Apple Music’s ‘voice plan’ isn’t for you

Amazon Music Unlimited

Price: $9.99 a month (or $7.99 a month for Prime subscribers); $14.99 a month for families

Amazon’s all-you-can-stream music service ticks a few of the same boxes as Apple Music: it supports high-definition audio for improved sound quality (assuming you have the speakers to take advantage of it), and it works elegantly across the company’s smart home products. That said, unless you’re a fanatic for Alexa and Echo speakers, there’s only one reason you should choose this option over the others: you get a slight discount on Music Unlimited if you already pay for Amazon Prime.

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

What about podcasts? Amazon says its music service includes “over 10 million” podcast episodes. While the company’s podcast terms of service don’t specifically mention misinformation, it bars podcasters from including “content that in our judgment is inappropriate or offensive.”

Tidal

Price: It’s complicated.

From the beginning, Tidal has tried to set itself apart by focusing on high-quality audio; too bad its competitors have caught up. These days, the company — now controlled by Twitter and Block founder Jack Dorsey — is trying to play up its presence as a music service for true music fans.

If there’s one catch, it’s that Tidal’s plans are a little more complicated than others we’ve seen: $9.99 a month gives one person full ad-free access to the company’s 80 million track music library at what Tidal calls “HiFi Sound Quality,” while $14.99 a month gives those same privileges to five other people.

Meanwhile, $19.99 a month opens the door to Tidal’s HiFi Plus plan, which offers extremely high-quality audio and artist-focused benefits like direct payouts and a new program called “fan-centered royalties” rolling out this year. And if you really wanted to, you could pay $29.99 a month to make that a family plan that (again) includes five additional people.

What about podcasts? You won’t find too many podcasts on Tidal, and the few you will see are series centered around music culture that Tidal either created or curated. Because the company doesn’t accept submissions from independent podcasters, you (almost certainly) won’t discover any pushing misinformation.

Deezer

Price: $9.99/month for individuals; $14.99 a month per person for higher fidelity audio; $14.99 a month for families at regular quality

Deezer isn’t part of an enormous tech conglomerate, nor was it cooked up by a couple of founders in Silicon Valley. (The service was originally developed by French entrepreneur Daniel Marhely in the mid-2000s.) Those lack of ties to the establishment could make Deezer an attractive option for people who don’t want to deepen their relationship with Big Tech.

What about podcasts? Podcasts are a big part of Deezer’s service, and the company allows media networks and independent podcasters to submit their work to be distributed on the platform. The company’s terms of use require that the content podcasters submit is not unlawful, obscene or “otherwise objectionable,” but does not specifically address misinformation.

Do you swear by another music service we haven’t mentioned? Let the Help Desk know.

How to transfer your music

Now that you have a better sense of what music service you’d like to switch to, it’s time to figure out how to get your curated music collection away from Spotify.

If you don’t have much music saved, it might not be too difficult to manually re-create your collection of playlists and liked songs in other services. Meanwhile, a cottage industry of companies that transfer music collections from one streaming service to another will let you ferry over a certain number of tracks free.

One service we tried, TuneMyMusic, lets you transfer 500 tracks between all the services mentioned above at no cost. The catch? If you’d prefer to transfer a larger music collection in one shot, it will cost you $4.50 a month to “convert” your entire library in one shot. (That is, unless you’ve decided to switch to Deezer — in that case, TuneMyMusic will transfer your all of your music over free.)

If 500 tracks is just the beginning of what you’ve saved in Spotify it’s well worth paying the $4.50 to have TuneMyMusic do it all for you — just make sure to cancel the subscription once you no longer need it. (Pro tip: This might be a good opportunity to use a burner card, which you can remotely cancel just to make sure you aren’t charged regularly.)

Another service, Soundiiz, lets you transfer your playlists from Spotify to a slew of other music services free, assuming you’re willing to transfer them one at a time. Removing that limitation — as well as transferring your full collection of albums and individual saved tracks — costs $4.50 a month, just like TuneMyMusic. Our advice: Take a little time to play around with Soundiiz’s playlist transfer tool. It’s not as immediately simple as TuneMyMusic, but you should be able to move a decent chunk of your collection over before you need to make a decision about paying for more.

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