The future of music

YouTube Music vs Spotify: Which Platform Wins?

August 3, 2023
youtube music vs spotify

There are so many great music streaming services worth checking out. 

But that’s precisely why it’s easy to feel confused or overwhelmed. 

However, each platform has its own unique features and highlights, so you just need to find a service that meets your needs. 

And today we bring you a comparison of the two streaming giants – YouTube Music vs Spotify. 

We’ll take a look at their main features, pricing, and other relevant factors to help you find the best music streaming service for you.

YouTube Music and Spotify – How Do They Work?

When thinking about the best music streaming services, Spotify immediately comes to mind.

But nothing really beats the popularity of YouTube, and the popular video platform caught up with top music streaming services by introducing YouTube Music. 

Both YouTube Music and Spotify are great options for music lovers, but which one is right for you?

To make a fair YouTube Music vs Spotify comparison, we need to take a look at important factors such as music discovery features, pricing, app functionality, social features, and music library.

But before digging into each aspect, let us briefly explain how each platform works.

YouTube Music

In short, YouTube Music is a streaming platform developed by YouTube.

The service was first launched as Youtube Music Key in 2014, and it was designed as a complementary video streaming service to Google Play Music. 

After some transforming and rebranding, the app became a fully functional music streaming app named YouTube Music in 2018.

Youtube Music

The app quickly became a serious competitor to the biggest streaming platforms.

After all, we’re talking about YouTube – the biggest music video platform and one of Google’s most visited websites.

YouTube Music allows you to listen to the latest hits and connect with the artists you love.

The app also offers playlists based on your listening history and musical preferences and provides themed playlists such as Workout playlists, Summer playlists, and so on. 

It’s a great option for music lovers for sure, but can it win in a battle with a streaming superstar like Spotify?

Spotify 

Founded in 2006, Spotify started as a small Swedish start-up developed by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon who wanted to address music piracy. 

Spotify is now one of the biggest streaming apps in the world – according to Statista, Spotify reported 515 million active users worldwide in the first quarter of 2023. 

One of the reasons so many people use Spotify is its convenience and flexibility and ease of use.

You can launch the Spotify app on Android, iPhone, desktop, and smart TV apps, and it’s compatible with Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

Spotify

Spotify also provides cool features and options such as collaborative playlists, group session options, a huge music library, and a wide selection of podcasts. 

And it allows you to connect with friends and check out what they’re listening to at the moment. 

Moreover, it’s great for creating playlists and listening to music that fits your taste – you can follow the artists you like, and if someone you follow releases a new song, the track will show up on the Release Radar playlist, along with other tracks that you might like.

Spotify also does a great job of recommending tracks and artists. 

To provide you with daily playlists and song recommendations, Spotify analyzes your streaming history and creates personalized playlists of different artists and genres based on your music preference.

All in all, Spotify is a great choice for anyone looking for a reliable streaming service with strong social and music discovery features.

YouTube Music vs Spotify – Which One Is Better?

Now that you know what each service is all about, let’s compare their characteristics and features so you can decide which platform is a better option for you.

User interface

Both YouTube Music and Spotify have a clean, dark-themed interface, and albums and playlists are organized in a grid layout.

And both apps are quite recognizable – YouTube Music has iconic YouTube details, and Spotify has that eye-catching and simple yet unique look.

When it comes to the user interface and functionality, you can’t go wrong with both apps.

They have clear sorting options and good search filters, and they are generally easy to navigate.

However, Spotify seems to be more comprehensive and intuitive. 

It features a stationary navigation sidebar on the desktop app, and it allows you to quickly access songs, playlists, and various features.

Streaming quality

On YouTube Music, you can choose from several sound quality settings: low (48kbps AAC and OPUS), normal (128kbps AAC and OPUS; default settings), and high (256kbps AAC and OPUS).

On the other hand, Spotify’s maximum streaming quality is 320kbps.

The platform makes use of AAC and Ogg Vorbis – both widely-used standard lossy formats.

Lossy files are not as good as lossless files – lossy files sacrifice audio quality because they’re highly compressed, and lossless audio preserves all of the original audio information so it’s basically identical to the source.

Spotify announced Spotify HiFi (lossless audio tier) in 2021, but they delayed the launch for unknown reasons.

Nevertheless, Spotify provides great sound quality, especially if you don’t intend to use high-end studio headphones to listen to music. 

And since Spotify consumes about 150MB of data per hour (about 7 to 8 MB per song), playback is rather smooth and quick to load when you skip tracks.

So all things considered, when it comes to streaming and sound quality, Spotify is clearly a winner. 

Playlists 

Both Spotify and YouTube Music use algorithms to track your streaming history in order to provide you with custom playlists.

YouTube Music also provides playlists based on genre, mood, theme, new releases, and so on.

It’s a great place to find new songs that fit your musical preferences and listen to the hottest tracks and new releases. 

YouTube Music Premium offers on-demand listening and the possibility to create your own playlists.

Spotify offers on-demanding streaming as well, and it’s available even to free users. 

You can search playlists by genre, mood, and similar artists, and on a desktop version, there are unlimited skips even if you’re not a member. 

The app also allows you to create playlists, save songs, and follow artists you like, and there are countless curated playlists you can explore, from independent playlists to playlists made by Spotify’s editorial team.

Spotify Playlist

Spotify uses algorithms to learn your listening habits and provide you with personalized mix playlists and recommendations.

Spotify’s Daily mix playlists usually feature artists and tracks you’re familiar with, but they can also feature something new that you might like.

They refresh every 7 days, which ultimately makes Spotify a great place to discover new music. 

Also, Spotify has Release Radar and What’s New playlists, featuring new music from artists you follow, artists you listen to, and other artists you might like. 

If you’re a music artist, submitting a pitch to Spotify playlist editors at least 7 days before release day will get your song on your followers’ Release Radar playlists.

In terms of playlists and recommendations, both YouTube Music and Spotify have plenty to offer, but Spotify provides a more sophisticated way of delivering playlists based on your musical taste. 

See also: Best Spotify Playlists

Phone apps

YouTube Music Premium app allows you to listen to music and watch videos ad-free, and it allows you to do something that YouTube doesn’t: listen to music with the screen locked.

It’s a convenient app for sure, but which app is better for you depends on your preferences. 

Spotify is available as an app on a phone or desktop, and with its Spotify Connect feature, you can use it on a number of Smart devices.

Both apps are well-designed and easy to navigate, although they do differ from their desktop versions.

For instance, Spotify’s phone app is very convenient and neat, but the desktop version (in the free plan) offers some extra features, such as unlimited track skips.

Music discovery features

One of the best things about music apps and websites is the possibility to discover new music.

And as we mentioned before, YouTube Music and Spotify, just like all the best music streaming apps, use algorithms to learn their users’ listening habits and tastes. 

So, both platforms are great places for discovering new music.

However, Spotify is widely known for its algorithmically designed playlists and awesome music recommendations.

Spotify’s Daily Mix playlists are always great to explore, and Discover Weekly also features some great tunes as well.

Mobilephone using Music playlist

Spotify simply knows what kind of music you want to discover, and the more songs you listen to, the more personalized and accurate your playlists are going to get. 

Plus, there are countless playlists based on genre, mood, and year of release.

So, even though both platforms offer great features when it comes to music discovery, Spotify is hard to beat.

Subscriptions

If you’re looking for free music streaming apps, both Spotify and YouTube Music are good options.

However, Spotify offers more content and features in its free plan.

Everyone can access Spotify’s music library and use its music discovery and social features.

Spotify’s free version is especially useful if you use it on a desktop – the desktop version even offers unlimited track skips. 

But its membership plans are affordable as well, and they come with many benefits, including: 

  • Ad-free listening
  • Download options
  • Offline Listening
  • Higher audio quality

The subscription to the Spotify Individual Premium plan costs $9.99 per month, and they also offer Spotify Duo, Family Plans, Spotify Student, and so on.

You can also use Spotify Premium for free for one month.

YouTube Music offers almost the same pricing plans and options.

Their monthly subscription costs $9.99 per month, and their Student plan costs $4.99 per month.

And they offer a 1-month free trial to try things out first.

Youtube Ads display

With the YouTube Music Premium plan, you can get: 

  • Ad-free listening
  • On-demand playback
  • Offline Listening
  • Option to download songs and to listen to them offline

Both platforms offer similar perks, although Spotify does offer better streaming quality and some extra features. 

Plus, Spotify’s Premium Family plan gives subscribers access to Spotify Kids. 

Music Library

Both YouTube Music and Spotify have impressive music libraries.

With its extensive library of over 80 million songs, Spotify has plenty to offer, both for casual listeners and more picky music lovers. 

There’s a variety of genres to choose from (around 60, to be more precise), including alternative rock, electronic music, funk, classical music, rap, country, ambient, and dubstep.

There are also countless themed playlists such as throwback playlists, summer playlists, holiday playlists, and so on. 

Also, Spotify has licensing deals with some top record labels like Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music, so there’s no shortage of new music drops and popular hits. 

And since the service accepts music from anyone who submits to it, it features a lot of music from indie artists as well.

Music apps playlist

But in this Spotify vs YouTube Music battle, YouTube Music is a pretty strong contestant as well.

In February 2021, thanks to their partnership with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group (VEVO), Youtube Music accumulated as many as 70 million official music releases in their library.

And besides listening to tracks, all users can watch music videos through the app.

The platform has a nice indie collection as well, although it’s not as rich as Spotify’s.

Social features 

In the Spotify vs.YouTube Music comparison, it’s often hard to say which platform is better.

At the end of the day, it all depends on your preferences and priorities.

But when it comes to social features, Spotify is definitely a winner. 

YouTube Music allows you to share your playlists, and you can share a song, playlist, album, or music video from the YouTube Music mobile app to your story.

You can share it when creating a story on the Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat apps. 

Spotify, on the other hand, allows you to connect with friends, share your playlists with them, and check their listening activity and history. 

The app also allows you to share individual songs, full albums, and playlists via special links that target the Spotify app.

And thanks to the app’s Remote group session feature, you can start a group session, invite friends, and listen to music and podcasts together.

That said, if you’re looking for a music streaming service with strong social features, you should go for Spotify. 

Additional features and content

If you’re still not sure which streaming app is best for you, you should take a look at their additional features. 

Spotify’s extra features include:

  • Carplay and Android Auto compatibility
  • Spotify Wrapped – data collected from your Spotify account throughout the year (most-listened artists, genres, songs, etc.)
  • Spotify for Artists 
  • Sleep Timer
  • Podcasts 

The Spotify app is packed with useful features, and it offers versatile content.

It provides the option to import local files from your computer, which can come in very handy.

2 gadgets using music apps.

Besides music, Spotify offers more than 5 million podcast titles.

Spotify also launched Spotify Original Shows, a section that combines music and spoken-word content.

And with the acquisitions of Storytel, it decided to tap into the world of audiobooks.

YouTube Music has a lot to offer as well, but it’s mostly geared toward music and music videos.

If you’re looking for podcasts, you should use Google Podcasts.

So, if you’re searching for a streaming platform that offers a variety of content and features, you should go for Spotify.

And if you prefer a video and music-driven platform, YouTube Music will surely meet your needs.

Which Service is Better for Artists – YouTube Music or Spotify?

Spotify is an ideal choice for music fans who are looking for a convenient way to stream music, but it also offers great tools for music artists.

If you’re an independent artist and you want to distribute and promote your music online, you can easily do it on Spotify – you just need to claim your Spotify for Artists profile.

Spotify for Artists profile allows you to customize your artist profile, promote your music, pitch your songs to playlist editors, and connect with your fans.

It also provides detailed analytics and streaming data about your music and your listeners. 

However, Spotify pays artists between $0.003 – $0.005 per stream on average, while YouTube pays artists $0.008 per stream.

This is not a big difference though, and both platforms are unfortunately on the lower end of the spectrum of what music streaming services usually pay artists.

Nevertheless, if you want to gain exposure and grow your audience, uploading your music to YouTube and Spotify apps is a must. 

All unsigned artists can easily do it via third-party distributors such as CD Baby, TuneCore, or DistroKid.

See also: How to Get More Streams on Spotify

YouTube Music vs Spotify – Final Thoughts

In conclusion, both YouTube Music and Spotify offer great content for music lovers. 

Both apps have huge music libraries, useful features, and a well-designed user interface.

YouTube Music is a more music-driven platform that offers a unique possibility to watch millions of music videos through the app as well.

Spotify, on the other hand, offers better sound quality, subscription flexibility, and music discovery features.

You may also like: Amazon Music vs Spotify

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

view profile

songs from 2014
Previous Story

25 Best Songs from 2014 (Popular Hits)

the judds songs
Next Story

15 Best The Judds Songs of All Time (Greatest Hits)

Latest from Music Industry