Does Apple Music take up more storage than Spotify?

Music streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify allow users to access vast music libraries and download songs for offline listening. A common question that arises is whether Apple Music or Spotify takes up more storage space on devices. This article will provide a detailed comparison of how Apple Music and Spotify file sizes, storage usage, caching, and other factors differ.

The main sections will cover how music streaming works, the file sizes used by each service, storage used on devices, caching and offline playback, additional storage factors, and tips for managing storage.

How Music Streaming Services Work

Music streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify allow users to listen to vast catalogs of songs and albums over the internet without having to download music files onto their device. Instead of storing full audio files locally, the user’s device streams small compressed audio files from the service’s servers as they listen (

When a user wants to play a song, their device sends a request to the streaming service’s servers. The servers then send small compressed audio files back down to the user’s device where they are temporarily cached and immediately played. The audio files are not permanently stored locally. This allows access to millions of songs without taking up significant storage space on the user’s device (

However, music streaming services do take up some storage space on devices. This is used mainly for caching audio files as well as storing metadata, preferences, login information, and offline playlists. The amount of storage required depends on factors like quality settings and how much music is cached for offline listening (

Apple Music File Sizes

Apple Music songs are available to stream at 256 kbps AAC format, which is equivalent in quality to MP3 files encoded at 320 kbps according to Apple support documents. When you download a song for offline playback from Apple Music, it is downloaded in the high quality 256 kbps AAC format by default.

The AAC format, which stands for Advanced Audio Coding, is an audio compression standard that was designed to be the successor to the MP3 format. AAC achieves better sound quality than MP3 at the same bit rate. Apple uses a proprietary version of AAC called AAC-LC (Low Complexity).

According to Apple’s technical specifications, AAC-LC files at 256 kbps have similar audio quality to MP3 files at 320 kbps. Both formats are considered high enough bitrates to produce audio that is indistinguishable from the original CD source to most listeners.

So in summary, Apple Music streams and downloads songs at 256 kbps AAC, which provides excellent audio quality comparable to 320 kbps MP3 files.

Spotify File Sizes

Spotify uses a variety of audio codecs and bitrates depending on the user’s streaming quality settings, device capabilities, and network conditions. According to Spotify’s support article on audio quality, the bitrates can range from 24 kbps on the “Low” setting to 320 kbps on the “Very High” setting.

The default bitrate used by Spotify for streaming is 160 kbps Ogg Vorbis format for standard users. Spotify Premium users can choose to stream higher quality audio up to 320 kbps. For downloading songs for offline playback, Spotify uses 96 kbps Ogg Vorbis and 256 kbps AAC files (1).

For podcasts, Spotify recommends uploading MP3 files encoded at a constant bitrate of at least 64 kbps. Video podcasts should have an H.264 video stream encoded at a bitrate of at least 1.5 Mbps at 720p (2).

So in summary, audio quality and file sizes can vary greatly on Spotify depending on the type of content and user settings. But their typical audio file sizes range from 24 kbps to 320 kbps for music and 64+ kbps for podcasts.

Device Storage Used by Apple Music

The amount of storage Apple Music takes up depends on the type of device being used. Here’s a breakdown for different Apple devices:

On an iPhone, Apple Music’s cache can take up to 2GB. This includes cached songs for offline listening as well as data on Apple Music’s catalog and recommendations. The exact size depends on how many songs are downloaded for offline listening.

On an iPad, the cache can grow slightly larger, up to around 3GB, since the larger screen size allows for more offline song downloads. However, much depends on user behavior.

For Macs, Apple Music will take up about 3-5GB of storage space. This range accounts for the larger music library available for offline listening compared to mobile devices. Much of this space is devoted to storing audio files for offline access.

On the Apple TV, Apple Music consumes around 200-500MB of storage. Less offline caching is needed since playback happens primarily via streaming.

In general, the cache size scales with the number of songs downloaded for offline listening. Heavy offline listeners will notice larger Apple Music storage usage compared to those who stream songs more often.

Device Storage Used by Spotify

Spotify can take up a significant amount of storage space on devices, especially if you download music for offline listening. On iOS devices like iPhones and iPads, Spotify downloads are stored in an encrypted format that takes up more space than an average MP3 file[1]. Many users report Spotify consuming multiple gigabytes, sometimes as much as 10GB or more[2].

On Android devices, Spotify’s cache can grow quite large over time as more tracks are downloaded. The app does not automatically delete old cached files, so the cache size can increase to multiple gigabytes. However, the app only displays the size of the current download cache, not the full cache size[3].

In general, the more playlists and tracks you download for offline listening within Spotify, the more storage space will be consumed. But Spotify’s encrypted offline file format often takes up substantially more space than users expect based on the number of tracks stored.

[1] “Why does Spotify App take up so much space on iPhone?” Spotify Forums.

[2] “iPhone storage indication wrong” Apple Discussions Forum.

[3] “How to fix Spotify Taking Up So Much Storage on iPhone” YouTube.

Caching and Offline Playback

Both Apple Music and Spotify utilize caching and offline playback, which can impact storage usage. When songs are streamed, they are temporarily cached or stored locally on the device. This allows for quicker loading and playback. Even if no songs are explicitly downloaded for offline listening, this caching takes up storage space.

For Apple Music, the app automatically caches songs you have recently played. According to a Reddit thread, this can result in ~20GB of storage used just for caching, even with no offline music downloaded. To clear this cache and regain storage space, you need to go into Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Music and select “Offload App.” This will delete the cached songs while keeping the Apple Music app.

Spotify also automatically caches songs for a better streaming experience. The cache is kept in the “Offline content” section under Settings. The amount of storage used depends on your Spotify quality settings – lower quality uses less cache storage. You can manage the cache by going to Your Library > Playlists and selecting the offline content. Delete songs individually or entire playlists to clear storage space.

In summary, both services utilize caching for quicker streaming which takes up device storage. Apple Music’s caching in particular can quickly eat up to 20GB without explicit offline downloads. Both apps require manually clearing the cache to reduce used storage space.

Additional Factors Affecting Storage

In addition to streaming quality settings, there are other variables that influence how much storage Apple Music and Spotify take up on a device. The number of songs downloaded is a major factor – the more songs saved for offline listening, the more space used. According to one analysis, around 1,000 songs with average file sizes of 5MB per song will take up about 5GB of storage.[1]

The type of device also matters. Smartphones generally have less available storage than tablets or computers. Older devices are likely to have smaller storage capacities than newer models. Having lots of other apps, photos, videos, and files on a device contributes to filling up storage faster.[2]

Both Apple Music and Spotify allow users to control how songs are downloaded for offline listening. Settings like download quality and limiting downloads to Wi-Fi connections can help optimize space used. Regularly removing songs that are no longer needed from the device’s library helps free up storage over time.

Managing and Optimizing Storage

There are several ways to minimize the storage used by Apple Music and Spotify on your device:

For Apple Music:

  • Turn off “Auto-Download” for new music in Settings to avoid automatically caching songs (Source).
  • Set the streaming quality to High Quality instead of Lossless in Settings > Music > Audio Quality to use less data for songs (Source).
  • Delete the offline cache in Settings > General > iPhone Storage to clear any downloaded music.

For Spotify:

  • Disable “Automatically enhance” in Settings to avoid higher quality streams using more data.
  • Select a lower streaming quality in Settings > Streaming quality.
  • Remove downloaded songs you no longer listen to regularly to clear storage.

Regularly reviewing cached or downloaded content and deleting what you don’t need can help optimize storage usage for both services.


Based on the information presented, it appears that Apple Music does generally take up more storage space than Spotify on mobile devices. This is primarily due to Apple Music’s larger file sizes for downloaded songs, use of the less-efficient AAC format versus Spotify’s Ogg Vorbis format, and more aggressive offline caching behavior. On average, Apple Music users report their app consuming 2-3x more storage than Spotify’s mobile app when regularly downloading music for offline playback.

However, Spotify Premium users who download a very large offline library may also see significant device storage used, so excessive downloads can still be a concern on either service. Overall storage use will also depend on your device type, storage capacity, playback habits and downloading preferences. Both Apple Music and Spotify provide tools to monitor and manage the app’s storage use, which can help optimize available space.

For most typical use cases focused on streaming, Spotify appears to be the more storage-efficient option. But Apple Music offers larger cloud libraries, higher-quality audio and more robust integration for iOS users. Understanding the storage differences between these two popular services can help you decide which is a better fit based on your listening preferences and device storage availability.