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Difference Between YouTube Music and Spotify

We look at the two music streaming giants that are leading the audio streaming business – YouTube Music and Spotify – and try to find out the key differences between the two services and how they stack up when put together in a direct head on battle.

What Is YouTube Music?

YouTube Music is a music streaming service from the house of search engine giant, Google. Developed by YouTube, the music streaming application is available as both free and premium model, wherein the Premium is a subscription based ad-free access to the world of YouTube videos including YouTube Music. This operates in a similar fashion like other music streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and so on. It provides full streaming and downloads access to a huge catalogue of online tracks. Like its rivals, it offers a free one-month trial before you actually commit to the app, and after the trial period ends, you can subscribe to YouTube Premium for roughly $10 a month to enjoy unlimited, ad-free music and videos. And because it’s YouTube, it makes it really easy to share stuffs. 

What is Spotify?

Spotify redefined the music industry we know of from the past hundreds of years, bringing everything from music and podcasts to videos and everything in between and put it right inside your pockets. Spotify is one of the world’s largest music streaming services and media providers that has become the clear winner globally in terms of paid subscribers. Spotify dominates the music streaming industry with over 356 million active monthly users and a whopping 150 million+ paid subscribers worldwide. It takes on the competition further when it acquired the comedian Joe Rogan’s incredibly popular podcast and made exclusive deals with Kim Kardashian and DC Comics, all in a move to broaden its scope of music streaming to audio giant. The Swedish music streaming service offers access to millions of songs and content from creators all over the world.

Difference between YouTube Music and Spotify


 – While both Spotify and YouTube Music are popular music streaming services out there, the latter has the competitive advantage of being the second most popular search bar in the world, after Google of course. Well, the biggest difference between the two is the content they offer. YouTube Music basically is all about music and music videos, which is great, but it still does not feature podcasts in its platform. Spotify, on the other hand, does offer podcasts for the millions of people who like to listen to them. Spotify also has exclusives from Joe Rogan, Kim Kardashian, and Michelle Obama.

Music Discovery 

– Music discovery becomes apparent when you run out of things to listen to. While both of them offer a mix of algorithms and curated playlists to keep you hooked into the platform, Spotify makes it easy to discover new kinds of music by relying on algorithm-based music discovery and helping you experience music more efficiently. Google takes a similar approach by offering algorithm-based suggestions, which is also very impressive.

Streaming Quality

 – While both the apps restrict streaming quality based on whether you’re on free plan or on subscription, the free YouTube Music maxes out at 128 kbps whereas Spotify tops out at 160 kbps on mobile. Spotify uses the efficient yet oddly named Ogg Vorbis format for tracks it streams to you. This format supports a high-quality audio experience without eating much of the bandwidth, or network capacity, to stream to your laptop or mobile device. Premium subscribers can listen to superior quality music for many tracks.


 – While both the services offer both free and premium based plans for their users, pricing structure for the premium plans is almost identical in both the apps, including the family and student plans. For the individual plan, Spotify costs you $9.99 per month, while the premium subscription for YouTube Music costs an extra $2 a month, but includes both YouTube Music and YouTube Premium offerings. So, an additional $2 for two services is worth the deal.

YouTube Music vs. Spotify: Comparison Chart


In a nutshell, both are great music streaming platforms that offer you tons of new music, but because anyone can upload stuff on YouTube, music quality on YouTube is hugely variable, and the quality of the video depends on who’s uploaded it. The playback on YouTube isn’t quite as instant as Spotify, either, and you cannot easily create or share a lot of playlists. While Spotify beats YouTube Music right off the bat, the choice mostly depends on what you’re actually looking for on your app. If it’s the podcasts you like so much, then Spotify is the best bet. YouTube, on the other hand, is really good at random music.

Is Spotify or YouTube Music better?

The answer really depends on the type of content you’re looking for in your app. If you’re too much into podcasts, then Spotify is your only choice and you’re better off with it. If you like to go through music randomly, then YouTube Music is your things because YouTube excels at surfacing random music.

Why does YouTube Music sound better than Spotify?

Choosing the highest quality music listening experience on YouTube Music will get you a stream of 256 kbps using AAC, while Spotify tops out at 320 kbps using the same AAC format. So, Spotify clearly beats YouTube in terms of streaming quality.

Should I switch from Spotify to YouTube Music?

Spotify is basically everywhere, so unless you need a break from Spotify and you’re used to the Google ecosystem or want access to music that are typically not found on other music streaming platforms, then making a switch from Spotify to YouTube Music sounds good.

Does YouTube Music have better sound quality?

YouTube Music Premium is a great service if you enjoy watching live performance, music video and so on, but the audio quality falls short compared to the higher bitrate of Spotify and other streaming services out there. It does shine at random music surfing though, but sound quality is the area where it lags behind the competition.

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References :

[0]Gilmour, Kim. Spotify For Dummies. New Jersey, United States: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print

[1]Eriksson, Maria, et al. Spotify Teardown: Inside the Black Box of Streaming Music. Massachusetts, United States: MIT Press, 2019. Print

[2]Mjos, Ole J. Music, Social Media and Global Mobility: MySpace, Facebook, YouTube. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2013. Print

[3]Image credit: https://pixabay.com/es/illustrations/spotify-en-streaming-m%c3%basica-1360002/

[4]Image credit: https://live.staticflickr.com/4034/4371161169_951aa9857a_b.jpg

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