Spotify blog by Spotiflex

The Spotify vs. YouTube Music debate doesn’t look to end anytime soon. This is understandable because these two are heads and shoulders above every other music streaming platform out there today.

But the question that no one seems to answer is this: Spotify vs. YouTube Music: which is better? Do you agree that the official transformation of Google Play Music into YouTube Music stacks it up well enough against Spotify? Well, you are about to find out.

This post centers around these gigantic music streaming services, and you can make up your mind on which to go for.

Let the breakdown begin.

What is Spotify?

Spotify is the music streaming service created by two Swedish entrepreneurs: Martin Lorentzon and Daniel Ek. Stockholm, Sweden, is the headquarters of this gigantic music streaming service. 

The mobile application launched in Europe in 2008 and rose to prominence within a very short time. The music streaming service reached 1 million subscribers in 2011 and has become a force to reckon with today.

Spotify is available in up to 178 countries and records up to 345 million active users every month.

What is YouTube Music?

YouTube Music refers to the music streaming service that YouTube – under Google, its parent company – developed. The service was launched in 2014 as YouTube Music Key and was initially designed to serve as a unique, complementary video-streaming service to the extinct Google Play Music.

However, the mobile application underwent some rebranding and became known as YouTube Music in 2018.

YouTube Music is now available in up to 95 countries and boasts a Premium and Music user base of up to 30 million.

Spotify has a much larger user base than YouTube Music. However, just the number of users is not enough to determine which is better.

Spotify vs. YouTube Music: Comparing Free Plans

YouTube Music and Spotify use the freemium business model to attract users. Both music streaming services offer free plans, allowing potential users to stream their favorite music. Users will have access to both platform’s entire content libraries. How you listen to that content may differ from one platform to the other.

Moreover, there is a downside to using the free versions: users are bombarded with ads left, right, and center.

Here is a table that showcases the differences in the free versions of Spotify and YouTube Music:

FeaturesSpotifyYouTube Music
Access to the entire content libraryYesYes 
On-demand playbackYes (all platforms)Yes (web player and desktop)
Background playYes (web player only)Yes (all platforms)
Offline streamingZero download option for songsZero download option for songs
Number of audio quality settings for mobile1 setting: Normal (128 kbps)4 setting:automatic (which depends on internet speed)High (160kbps)Normal (96kbps)Low (24kbps)
Playback modesOffers both song mode and video modeIt offers no video mode
Song skipsYes (unlimited)Yes (but a maximum of 6 songs per hour)
Highest audio streaming quality128kbps160kbps
Offline streamingNo download option for audio songs or videosNo download option for songs in any format
Number of audio quality settings for web player2 settings:Normal (128kbps)Low (48kbps)1 setting: Normal (128 kbps)
Ad skipsAfter 5 secondsNo 
Number of audio quality settings for desktop app2 settings:Normal (128kbps)Low (48kbps)4 settings:Automatic (which depends on internet speed)High (160kbps)Normal (96kbps)Low (24kbps)

However, Spotify and YouTube Music provide potential subscribers with Spotify Premium and YouTube Music Premium, respectively.

Spotify vs. YouTube Music: Music Discovery

Music Discovery is a crucial feature in most music streaming applications. It helps prevent your library from going stale and is known to help less famous artists grow their audience.

Both Spotify and YouTube Music have well-placed algorithms that constantly monitor the artists and songs you like as well as those you skip.

The feature uses this information by adapting your music taste and recommending new music that it ‘thinks’ you will most likely enjoy. The recommendations usually appear as customized playlists created only for you. Spotify and YouTube Music have several of these.

YouTube Music’s feature has improved personalized playlisting. But Spotify wins in this category as it combines three unique, hybrid discovery algorithms to determine the songs you will love. The algorithms are:

  • Raw audio modeling
  • Collaborative filtering
  • Natural language processing

Spotify also has RADAR, an innovative playlist that focuses only on new and emerging music talent. Unfortunately, YouTube Music doesn’t have such a feature.

Spotify vs. YouTube Music: Pricing Plans

The pricing plans of Spotify and YouTube Music apps are identical. Take a look at a brief breakdown as well as the premium plans of both music streaming services apps:

Music Streaming PlatformStudent PlanIndividual PlanFamily Plan 
Spotify$4.99$9.99 per month$ 14.99 per month
YouTube Music$4.99$9.99 per month$14.99 per month

Both platforms offer virtually the same standard features, which include:

  • Ad-free, on-demand playback
  • High–quality audio streaming
  • Option to download favorite songs for offline listening
  • Full access to the entire content or music library

Nevertheless, a few differences set Spotify and YouTube Music apart, such as:

  • Audio quality difference
  • Bonus access to other streaming services
  • Additional subscription plans, etc.

Spotify also wins in these aspects as they are noticeably absent in the YouTube Music app.

Spotify vs. YouTube Music: Sound Quality

Spotify Premium subscribers enjoy up to 5 audio quality settings, while YouTube Music Premium users only get four levels. 

The highest or maximum audio streaming quality setting on YouTube Music is 256kbps, but Spotify’s is up to 320kbps. Moreover, Spotify’s top audio quality takes less time to load than YouTube Music, especially if you compare them based on internet speed. Spotify wins.

Spotify vs. YouTube Music: User-friendliness

Both music streaming platforms feature dark-themed interfaces with albums and playlists arranged in a simple grid layout. They also share remarkable similarities here, though Spotify has unique intuitive controls that allow you to drag and drop songs from another playlist to yours within the sidebar.

Spotify also has a stationary navigation sidebar on the desktop app, which allows you to access some features and functions quickly, irrespective of how far down the Spotify content rabbit hole you are. But YouTube has a simple three-tab navigation bar.

But then, YouTube Music has a much better search function due to its ability to filter search results efficiently. So, in terms of user-friendliness, YouTube Music wins.

Conclusion

So, Spotify vs. YouTube Music: which is better? This debate is similar to the Spotify vs. Apple Music rivalry. Well, judging from users and monthly Spotify plays, you can tell that it is well ahead of them all.

However, your choice hangs primarily on the features you seek. These music streaming services are priced similarly but have obvious strong and weak points.

While podcasts listeners love Spotify as the go-to platform, those who love listening to random music prefer YouTube Music.

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