YouTube Music has arrived in the US and it’s already conquered a small share of the market. But how does it compare to the very well-established and well-known Spotify? Which music service should you choose? Our article has all the answers.
It’s not all that easy to choose the best music streaming service. Each of them has its own pros and cons and it’s precisely these aspects that I want to focus on by comparing YouTube Music and Spotify. Both services have a web player, but in this comparison we’ll be focusing on the functionality of apps for smartphones and tablets.
Do the tunes win you over?
The fundamental aspect of any self-respecting music streaming service is… the music of course! Music streaming services can be inexpensive, it can have a perfect app and a lot of unique features, but without good music it will have no future.
As for the music content, artists and albums, both Spotify and YouTube Music have huge catalogs, so it’ll be difficult not to find something pleasant to listen to on both platforms. But the benefit of YouTube Music, at least in this respect, is the exclusive content such as concerts, recordings of live performances and remixes that aren’t available on any platform in the world. Yes, Spotify also has events and concerts and makes available to listen to, but the number of exclusives isn’t comparable to the vastness of user content on YouTube.
Getting lost in the system is practically impossible
Google manages to implement the search system in a more effective way than Spotify can. On YouTube Music you can filter the results by song, album, artist and playlist directly with a touch on the dedicated buttons under the search bar. Spotify presents the results in these same categories, but it isn’t impossible to filter them. You have to scroll through the list and browse through the various content presented in groups.
What I appreciate most in Spotify compared to its Google counterpart is the presence of playlists customized according to mood, specific topics, kinds of weather, movies, TV series and so on. Spotify’s collection of themed playlists is currently superior to the playlists on YouTube Music. Google’s service generates playlists from users, but I can’t say that these are actually better than the playlists made by Spotify users.
Both services have a function called Radio. You can start playing a radio from an artist, an album or a song and both YouTube Music and Spotify create playlists with different artists without straying too far from the original theme.
In the same way, both streaming services have a page dedicated to discovering new content. Spotify calls this the navigation bar, while YouTube Music calls this the hotlist. At the top, Spotify has a horizontal list of playlists that it considers suitable for the moment. There’s also a vertical list of topics, genres or moods. The hotlist is a collection of trendy albums or tracks from around the world. These are two different ways of presenting new and equally valid content, the preference of one over the other is purely subjective.
Different limitations at different prices
YouTube goes Premium, and not just for music
You can listen to YouTube Music Premium for a price of $9.99 per month. This package gives you access to all the music you need without advertising, which is downloadable offline and playable in the background (the music won’t stop if you change apps or turn off your smartphone screen). When using this type of premium account, you can also choose whether to display the video of the chosen song (if available) or just the classic album cover.
There is a free unlimited version (simply called YouTube Music) that allows you to listen to any song you want. You’ll still have to deal with advertising and you won’t have access to background playground, which makes the app practically useless, since you’ll have to keep your smartphone screen on for the duration of your time on the app.
The package I would recommend is called YouTube Premium (without the name Music) at the cost of 11.99 dollars per month. For only 2 dollars more per month (☕☕) you can access all the functions of YouTube Music Premium, but you’ll also remove the ads from the classic YouTube, and you’ll be able to play videos in the background and download them so you can view them offline. That’s not bad at all, and when using the YouTube app on Android Oreo or later you can also use the Picture in Picture mode.
Spotify is the king of free services
Spotify is much more useful than the free version of its YouTube counterpart. You can play music in the background and you’ll only be interrupted by advertisements from time to time. On Spotify mobile, you're stuck in shuffle mode and only have a small number of skips available per hour (you can play whatever you want on the PC application though).
Is that too many negative aspects? It depends on you! You can use the service free of charge and have your own playlists, those generated by Spotify and its users. And the limitation of not being able to choose specific songs isn’t so bad. Don’t tell me that you’ve never used random playback! I only use that!
Spotify Premium, at the cost of $9.99 per month (without the special promotions that the company often offers), gives you the opportunity to listen to any song you want and allows you to download it for offline listening.
There isn’t an answer to everything
If you’re looking for a free service and are prepared to survive advertising, there is no doubt that Spotify offers a more attractive product. For me, it’s an issue that I can’t turn off my smartphone screen while using YouTube Music.
It’s a different story if you’re looking for a Premium service. This gives you the advantage of being able to get rid of advertising for just 2 dollars more, even when you’re on the classic YouTube. This is a significant bonus and will make people believers in Google’s video streaming service.
Both streaming platforms are very good and have various advantages and disadvantages.
This doesn’t mean that Spotify Premium users need to rush to unsubscribe immediately to switch to the new service. Spotify is one of the most complete platforms ever, and if your focus is primarily on music, it should be a more suitable service. But if your interest is in audiovisual content, Spotify has no hope.
Do you use one of the two services? Do you prefer Free or Premium? How do you like it? Let us know in the comments!