YouTube Music versus Spotify

Music streaming has been dominated by Spotify for years now, but there’s a new contender on the market in the form of YouTube Music. In this article we compare the two services, looking at price, music library, functionality, and ultimately, which is the right platform for you.

Last updated: 9th Nov 2020 at 4:51pm

What is Spotify?

Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming apps available for iOS and Android devices today. It has been released for over a decade, launching way back in 2008. 

We weren’t kidding when we said it was popular - in 2019 they recorded a total of 217 million monthly active users!

With over 40 million songs available, as well as podcasts and documentaries,, Spotify has definitely made its mark on the music industry.

What is YouTube Music?

YouTube Music is a spin-off of the video platform YouTube, with a focus specifically on singers, music videos, and other audio content. It was originally released in 2015, but really came into its own when it relaunched in 2018 as a fully-fledged music streaming service. Users can expect to find music updates and news such as weekly trends, newest album releases, and best videos. 

While it may not have as many subscribers as Spotify, Google are putting a lot of effort into this platform and has the entire userbase of YouTube to leverage.

YouTube Music and Spotify compared

There are many factors and features we can compare between YouTube Music and Spotify so you can decide which service you’d prefer to use.

Price

As with all things, price is a huge swaying point. Both of these platforms offer free usage as well as paid subscriptions. Being a premium member removes ads, allows for offline listening, and offers the user more freedom and flexibility to personalise their music experience. It’s worth noting that although YouTube Music offers a free service, you can’t listen to anything in the background without being a paid subscriber.

YouTube Music

Student: 1 month free trial / £4.99 monthly 

Premium: 1 month free trial / £11.99 monthly 

Family: £14.99 monthly (up to 6)

Spotify

Student: 1 month free trial / £4.99 monthly

Premium: 1 month free trial / £9.99 monthly

Premium Duo: 1 month free trial / £12.99 monthly (2 accounts)

Family: £14.99 monthly (up to 5 members)

Spotify wins this round, with cheaper overall cost for their premium services, although if you have a large family, YouTube Music allows you to have one extra user for the same price.

Music Library

Spotify has over 40 million songs, and is ever-expanding, adding thousands more each day with releases, remakes, and past classics. 

You can search songs by activity, mood, and genre, looking up music as specific as “Summer in the Garden”, “Songs to Sing in the Shower”, “Wholesome”, “Easy 80s”, “Confidence Boost”, and “Jazz Vibes”, to name a few. 

YouTube doesn’t specify how many songs you have access to, but it does have a wide range of artists and albums from all eras and genres. One thing it does better than Spotify on is that it links up to YouTube, and can play anything uploaded to the main platform that’s been categorised as ‘music’.

The only issue with YouTube user-uploaded content is that some of it could be illegally copyrighted. While the platform does try to remove these videos, many sneak under the cracks. So if you save any of these songs to playlists, you may see them occasionally disappear, and if you care about the music industry, you won’t be giving any royalties to the original artists with these songs.

Algorithms 

Algorithms are what give you a personalised, unique experience. Both Spotify and YouTube Music tailor the app to match what you’re interested in, what you’ve been searching for, and any other similar music they think you’d like. This allows users to more easily find songs they like. 

Spotify

Spotify’s algorithms create Daily Mixes of your favourite songs at that current moment, based on what you’ve been playing. Rewind is a series of mixes created by Spotify that looks back at historic favourites of yours, including what you played over summer and your top songs of previous years. Discover Weekly also gives users a mix of fresh music in the styles and genre they like, so you can find new music at the touch of a button. 

Another great feature is Spotify Radio, where you can create an instant-playlist from any artist, album or song, with each track it selects being of a similar style or genre. 

Spotify does a good job of tailoring towards your current interests and altering things as your music taste shifts across genres and artists. They will help you create playlists with your favourite artists’ songs and releases, including mashups and live concert versions. 

YouTube Music

While not as advanced as Spotify’s algorithms, YouTube Music offers two main mixes for users: Your Mixtape and Offline Mixtape. 

Both of these are created from your recent plays, so they’re sure to include your current favourite singers and songs. 

Your Offline Mixtape generates a playlist that is automatically downloaded every day, so you always have music to listen to offline while you’re roaming about. Don’t worry about this draining your data - YouTube will only download the songs overnight whilst you’re on Wi-Fi. If you’re conscious about how much space this could take up, you can limit how many tracks you want on your mixtape.

Sound Quality

Spotify offers different sound quality in the settings on the app. You can choose from normal 96kbps, high 160kbps and extreme 320kbps. 

YouTube Music, similarly, offers low, normal, and high quality. Their lowest is 48kbps, next is 128kbps, and their highest is 256kbps.

For the most part, audio quality is highly dependent on the device and earphones or headphones you’re using. Each device, whether that be a smartphone or tablet or PC, has a different speaker, so the sound will be altered from its original quality. Likewise, some earphones or headphones are better at delivering the tones of songs, so the sound quality is dependent on what you’re using to listen. 

Verdict

For now, Spotify remains the winner. It is slightly cheaper, has better sound quality options, and a stronger algorithm to personalise your experience. You also know where you stand with its song library, with over 40 million tracks at your fingertips. YouTube Music are very quiet on this front, making it hard to judge if it’s worth your money.
 

Which do you think is best - Spotify or YouTube Music? Let us know on Twitter

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