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The 10,000 Track Limit: Why I Switched from Spotify to Apple Music

Say what you will about the deluge of subscriptions, but I like subscribing to a streaming music service so I can explore music without the stress of having to decide if I want to buy any particular track. The first service I used was the much-missed Rdio. I stuck with Rdio because of its elegant interface even after testing out Apple Music during its free trial (see “Retuning Rdio: Why I Dropped Apple Music,” 7 October 2015). When Rdio went under, I switched to Spotify instead of Apple Music because Spotify’s interface was more focused on discovering and playing music, whereas iTunes was at a particularly low point in Apple’s interface experimentation. I also liked how Spotify could display lyrics, a feature that wasn’t available in iTunes at the time.

Spotify worked well for me for a while, but in May 2016, the lyrics feature disappeared. Spotify had been working with Musixmatch for lyrics, but said at the time:

Just a heads up that our Lyrics feature on desktop is currently unavailable as we’re making some big improvements to the feature. We’ll share more updates soon. We can also confirm our partnership with Musixmatch is ending. It was a great partnership and there is mutual respect between both companies as our business strategies move us each in different directions.

Alas, Spotify never brought back the lyrics feature. Musixmatch offers standalone Mac and iOS apps that can show lyrics for the currently playing song, but I found using them to be too much trouble most of the time.

Losing lyrics was a blow, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I ran headfirst into Spotify’s 10,000 track limit. You read that right — despite the fact that Spotify is a streaming service that contains over 30 million tracks, you cannot add more than 10,000 to your collection. This utterly arbitrary limit was a true deal-breaker.

The limit isn’t new, though I didn’t know about it when I signed up for Spotify. In 2014, user takingbackbenny started a Spotify Community discussion devoted to the limit that has garnered over 4500 votes and generated 300 pages of comments from Spotify users who are shocked that the service would have such a limit. Several years after it started, Spotify staff said:

At the moment we don’t have plans to extend the Your Music limit. The reason is because less than 1% of users reach it. The current limit ensures a great experience for 99% of users instead of an “OK” experience for 100%.

Spotify never explains why changing an arbitrary number in the code from 10,000 to 50,000 (Google Play Music’s limit) or 100,000 (Apple Music’s limit) would somehow hurt the experience for those who don’t want to save that many tracks. A Spotify music collection is just a list of tracks, so it’s hard to imagine how allowing that list to exceed 10,000 could cause any problems. Regardless, many people in that discussion (and many other related threads) have said the limit is why they’re leaving Spotify, and it was the key reason for me to pay Apple instead of Spotify for music.

I enjoy following the trail of related or recommended music to find new music from previously unknown artists. When I find music I like, I add it to my library so I can find it again by scrolling through my library, and so additional algorithmic recommendations take it into account. It was all too easy to hit 10,000 tracks doing that.

I was able to export my Spotify collection to a text file (and then into a simple Panorama database), so I could be sure that I wouldn’t lose it, but I wasn’t able to find any automated way to add those tracks to my Apple Music library. (Commenters have recommended several iOS apps that I haven’t had a chance to try yet.) I’m not too bothered by that, since it lets me work through my collection manually. I can add each album back, and if I have time, I can explore more related music. It’s not about efficiency; it’s about wandering through the world’s largest record store. I didn’t even import my collection of music ripped from CDs since I can likely find it all in Apple Music, and it had become rather random anyway.

As much as Apple Music raises Spotify’s track limit tenfold, it’s not a complete win. Spotify did a better job of providing constantly changing selections of music to play. It offered six genre-driven Daily Mix playlists that combined tracks from my collection with related recommendations, and its Discover Weekly playlist was always worthwhile for finding new music.

In contrast, Apple Music’s My Favorites Mix and My Chill Mix playlists update only once per week and contain just 25 songs, which feels weak. Apple Music also provides some curated playlists and recommended albums, but when I just want to play music without thinking about it, Spotify’s Daily Mixes were near perfect. Apple Music requires more interaction.

Although the interface of iTunes 12.6 has settled down, it’s still confusing and cluttered, thanks to the awkward splits between your library (which might include local music), Apple Music, and the iTunes Store. The iOS Music app has also improved over time, but it still took me a while before I figured out how to turn off shuffle, given that the control was hidden out of sight on my iPhone screen with no indication that scrolling was necessary.

I can’t say that I’ll stick with Apple Music forever, but with Spotify seemingly uninterested in expanding its limit and providing lyrics, Apple has a better set of features for now. I’m also looking forward to trying the HomePod with it. And if Spotify ever gets its act together, I can always switch back.


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Comments about The 10,000 Track Limit: Why I Switched from Spotify to Apple Music
(Comments are closed.)

Z King  2017-08-30 16:47
Maybe while they are fixing this limit they can fix the lack of an explicit filter while they are at it. Which has existed for 5+ years and has over 325 pages of comments.
Nicholas Riley  2017-08-30 18:12
FYI, SongShift ( is an iOS app which will transfer playlists between most streaming providers. (No association.)
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-08-31 10:01
Thanks for the tip! I'll take a look.
Michael Weinmayr  2017-08-31 10:31
jMusic is another playlist transfer option that I have used.
I used STAMP to switch. It got ~60% of the tracks automatically which isn't that great, but better than nothing.
John Cooper  2017-08-30 18:53
I love to discover new music. However, when I tried Spotify in 2013 (mainly to access a playlist that was associated with a book I was reading), Spotify:

1. Mysteriously forgot my supposed 30-day premium trial.
2. Made it seemingly impossible to access the playlist (apparently because I wasn't connected to the creator).
3. Made no documentation available.
4. Yielded no contact information.
5. Responded to Help searches with pages of irrelevant FAQs.
6. Referred me for more help to a community for which I had to separately register.
7. Ignored my postings to that community.

And then they rubbed it in with the we're-so-glad-you've-found-our-cool-hip-service tone of all their branded material.

Apple Music, of course, shares some of these problems. But at least I've been able to find new music through it by setting up a "station" based on a track I like.
Scott Rose  2017-08-31 09:25
Spotify has the worst executive leadership and the worst customer support in the entire tech world. They have never fixed ANY known problems with their service. One of their LARGEST PROBLEMS -- which probably affects millions upon millions of their customers -- is that whenever you do a "Shuffle Play" from the artist's page (instead of shuffling from a playlist), Spotify WON'T SHUFFLE PLAY ALL OF THAT ARTIST'S SONGS. Spotify will simply choose the top 20 trending songs for that artist and keep playing those same 20 songs over and over and over and over again. So there is absolutely NO WAY to just play all of an artist's songs that you want to hear. People have been complaining to Spotify about this for years, and it has always fallen on deaf ears. Spotify truly doesn't give a crap about any of their customers, even the ones like us who pay them a monthly fee. They are truly the worst. We very rarely see a company show so much contempt for its users as Spotify does.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-08-31 10:02
Sounds like Comcast has some competition for most-hated company. :-)
John R  2017-08-31 10:01
It just goes to show it’s impossible to keep everyone happy. Switching to a music service that basically gives you less (“requires more interaction” — exactly the opposite of what I want from a music service) because of a 10,000 song limit is pretty arbitrary. The 10k limit could be some bad major design decision made very early on that will require a lot of changes and is just low on their priority list. Who knows? They may have also found that it gets harder to recommend anything worthwhile to someone with so many songs. 10k songs = vanilla/noise as opposed to anything useful or meaningful. Just guessing though.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-08-31 10:32
Yes, there could be a good reason for the limit. Or rather, an understandable reason — I can think of no reason for it that benefits users. But Spotify has had years of complaints about this problem, and could have explained it at any point. Instead, the company has said nothing and changed nothing.
I'm not sure if this is true, but it could be money. The music labels would have charged more for a higher limit - thus some user benefit (lower monthly).
Dennis B. Swaney  2017-09-04 23:07
The last two sentences also describe a certain company named after a fruit!
Justen  2017-09-01 10:12
I've tried both, but chose Spotify in the end after maddening bugs in iTunes. While Apple Music was ok, I am deeply distrustful of iTunes after it mislabled dozens of tracks and actually deleted some music. I am 100% certain I had songs in my library that are missing after upgrades over the last two years. I didn't notice immediately, but rather discovered it along the way. At first I doubted myself, thinking, "Hmm, I thought sure I imported those song off of U2's Zootopia years ago, but maybe I didn't." But time after time, I stumbled onto the same thing. Although it should go without saying, I have to say: this is UNACCEPTABLE. And the mislabeling is not a small thing either and not limited to just my experience. I had a client (I'm in Mac IT support), who had multiple instances of this in his iTunes. I speculate it's related to the iTunes library in the cloud feature gone wrong. Whatever it is, I will not trust Apple with my music until I see changes in iTunes.
George Cowie  2017-09-03 19:25
This may not be helpful to dedicated Spotify users, and I was one, although not so dedicated, but I found the interface frustrating. Maybe because of my familiarity with iTunes from the very beginning, I was always able to make even the difficult "lost music" phase workable with help from experienced friends at and other users at work and at home. Now that Apple's ever-modifying service has straightened out pretty much, I'm OK with the monthly charge and the pure convenience of the service. I know my wants and it is easy to find them.
David Tanner  2017-09-05 03:08
In the UK Spotify is the most popular streaming service as it started up way before Apple Music. In several online music communities I belong to it is the de facto way of linking to music, mainly as you can be sure everyone will be able to access the music because of the free tier. I also would never hit the 10000 limit as I only (for quality reasons) use Spotify as a taster service pre buying a CD or FLAC version.
Music streaming services are only for people who do not care much about music, so it all makes sense. As to Apple hiding controls, it is only because they have slavishly copied design ideas from Microsoft.
John M  2017-09-05 22:40
I found that the Spotify app for MacOS was pretty aggressive in adding startups routines that sometimes conflicted with other apps, and the OS, several years ago, and have never been confident of installing the app permanently.

Just today, I launched a playlist for Steely Dan, and the app weirdly created a 36-point font list, and reverted to the 11 or 12 point on restart.

In my experience Spotify has not been a good neighbor in Mac environments, and doesn't care much to create a good user experience for Mac users.
Alexander Tetzlaff  2017-09-12 08:25
Unfortunately Apple Music has a lot less to offer when it comes to music from Europe, compared to Spotify. I wonder whether this is going to improve at some point.
Bangelica  2017-10-16 06:00
I would suggest using musconv, if you would want to transfer from one service to another, It allows you to transfer your music playlist from one service to another - Bangelica