If you’re a Spotify user, the chances are you’ve considered switching recently. Not because Spotify has lost its appeal, but because there are a bunch of new services to try.
One of these alternatives is YouTube Music. It promises a more diverse library of music, and intelligent features which can recommend new music based on your YouTube activity.
But does YouTube Music have what it takes to dethrone Spotify? We find out in this detailed comparison pitching Spotify vs. YouTube Music.
Spotify officially houses over 40 million tracks from a vast gamut of artists. Whether you’re looking for Post Malone’s latest album or rock music from the 1960s, Spotify has you covered. Spotify occasionally releases exclusives as well.
YouTube, on the other hand, hasn’t revealed how many tracks are in the YouTube Music library. But given YouTube’s close partnerships with labels, you certainly won’t face issues with locating a particular track on YouTube Music.
On top of that, YouTube Music lets you stream music or video from YouTube’s extensive catalog of fan covers, mashups, and concert clips. YouTube is also home to thousands of non-label tracks which you won’t find on any music streaming platform except for YouTube Music.
While Spotify won’t let you down as far as official songs are concerned, YouTube Music edges this contest thanks to its YouTube integration. The possibilities with YouTube Music are endless and you will be able to hear music beyond what everyone else is tuning in to.
Winner: YouTube Music
The Apps and Their Design
Spotify offers dark-themed apps which neatly organize all of the important sections. So at the top, you’ll find your personalized playlists, followed by what’s trending, recommendations, and albums picked up by Spotify’s editors, etc.
There’s ample space between these carousels allowing you to easily navigate without getting overwhelmed. The apps have a dynamic ambient background which switches based on the active song’s album art.
YouTube Music’s clients come with an OLED-friendly black theme and comfortable white, bold fonts. The home’s layout is similar to Spotify but the way it lays out the library is vastly different.
It begins with your mixtape, but the later sections revolve around the music you’ve listened to before. There’s “Favorites”, “Listen Again”, “Similar To”, and more. YouTube Music even features a “New Videos” category for those interested in the visual format. However, due to that, YouTube Music’s interface also feels a tad cluttered with large video and album/artist thumbnails.
Plus, unlike Spotify, YouTube Music lacks dedicated desktop apps. So you’ll have to depend on the web apps and third-party wrappers instead.
Spotify’s apps are unquestionably the winner here. In addition to the practical design, they lead in engineering as well with a more responsive interface. YouTube Music still largely feels like a work in progress and needs a few updates before it even has a chance.
Spotify is loaded to the brim if you’d like to expand your library and discover new music. With a team of curators, it regularly highlights fresh artists in customized playlists such as “Fresh Finds”.
Plus, Spotify hosts specific genres for moods and activities. That allows you to simply search for topics like “Focus”, and Spotify will instantly pull up white noise playlists. An automated radio station can be launched from any track or artist you like as well.
That’s not all. Spotify’s algorithms curate special daily and weekly playlists for you. Apart from that, the company claims there are over 3 billion playlists created by both Spotify’s own curators and other users.
YouTube Music’s set of tools for discovery, in comparison, feels limited. There aren’t a ton of playlists, nor do you have particular genres for moods or activities. There’s a constantly updated mixtape based on your listening preferences. Like Spotify, radio stations from tracks is available too.
Other than that, YouTube Music doesn’t offer much. There are two notable areas where it shines, though. YouTube Music can automatically download a mixtape of songs it thinks you might enjoy.
What’s more, its algorithms are a little ahead of Spotify’s and can pull up alternate covers and mashups from YouTube instead of the standard library.
YouTube Music does have a few advantages. But Spotify’s sweeping catalog of playlists means it’s the winner here. With Spotify, you have more control over what you’d like to listen. But if you want a service that makes decisions for you, you should go with YouTube Music.
Both YouTube Music and Spotify have a search function. The former, however, takes it a step further for times when you can’t quite remember the title of a song. On YouTube Music, you can type in whatever you can remember and the song you’re looking for will be in the results.
So for instance, if you search for “Jerusalem bells are ringing”, YouTube Music will promptly fetch Coldplay’s Viva La Vida.
Spotify has one upper-hand here. As we mentioned earlier, its search enables you to find the right playlist for a mood or activity.
Even though Spotify can better accommodate your precise playlist demands, YouTube Music has a noticeably superior engine. Which is unsurprising given YouTube’s ties with Google.
Winner: YouTube Music
One area where Spotify easily beats YouTube Music is its ability to stream podcasts. Spotify has a rich platform for podcasts, with topics galore to explore.
Moreover, you can browse the most popular channels and follow one to receive notifications whenever a new episode is added. YouTube Music doesn’t boast podcast support yet. Although since Google Play Music does, we expect this to change overtime.
YouTube Music can play content at a bitrate of up to 256kbps AAC, while Spotify can stream up 320kbps. However, to enjoy the maximum quality, you’ll need to be a premium subscriber.
That being said, if you’d like to preserve data, YouTube Music is a better option since its data saver mode turns down the level to 48kbps AAC. Spotify, at its lowest, can stream at 96kbps.
The winner here rests on your preferences. If you want the best possible quality pick Spotify. But if you’d prefer to option to stream music at the lowest possible quality, pick YouTube Music.
Fundamentals aside, YouTube Music and Spotify come with a plethora of supplementary features to lure listeners in.
YouTube Music, unfortunately, doesn’t do much in its current state except for offering a tempting deal. You can upgrade to YouTube Premium by paying just a few bucks extra and gain access to its original shows and lose the ads. In addition, for some tracks, you can instantly switch between their audio and video versions.
Spotify, over the years, has introduced a series of handy features. You can read the lyrics and a few behind-the-scenes tidbits (if available) right from the “Now Playing” screen, browse local songs stored on your computer, and enable crossfade between tracks.
In addition, Spotify lets you connect your phone and computer to control playback irrespective of which device it’s active on. Spotify has built a social platform as well through which you can follow other people and share your activity with them.
Both Spotify and YouTube Music have a handful of free and premium plans. So let’s break them down before arriving at a conclusion.
Spotify’s free tier lets you skip only a limited number of tracks per day, shows in-app advertisements, and you can’t stream offline. It’s very much usable if you’re not an avid music listener. The premium subscription costs $10/month.
However, if you’re a student, you only need to spend $5/month. There’s also a family package which is priced at $15/month and allows six concurrent listeners.
YouTube Music’s free plan is much less appealing and along with ads, requires you to have the screen constantly turned on. At $10/month, you can upgrade to YouTube Music Premium for an ad-free music streaming experience or you can spend $12/month instead to watch YouTube ad-free as well.
YouTube Music Premium’s family subscription costs $15/month. And YouTube Music for Students costs $5/month.
Although both services offer the same premium pricing, Spotify comes out on top thanks to its excellent free plan.
Spotify vs. YouTube Music: Which Should You Choose?
Of the nine categories we’ve explored, Spotify has won six. Therefore, unless you want to watch videos as well as listen to audio, Spotify beats YouTube Music quite comfortably. At least in our opinion.