Spotify vs. YouTube Music: so alike, but which is best for you?

spotify vs youtube music
Spotify vs. YouTube Music: so alike, but which is best for you? 5

The world of music streaming is more competitive than ever, with Spotify and YouTube Music being two of the most prominent contenders. Both platforms offer extensive libraries, user-friendly interfaces, and various subscription plans. But which one is the best choice for you? In this comprehensive comparison of Spotify and YouTube Music, we will delve into the features, pricing, content, and more to help you make an informed decision.

1. User Interface and Devices

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Spotify vs. YouTube Music: so alike, but which is best for you? 6


Spotify has been around since 2008 and has had plenty of time to refine its user interface. The platform is available on a wide variety of devices, including:

  • Web browsers
  • Mobile and desktop apps for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Kindle
  • Smartwatches and network speakers (e.g., Sonos)
  • CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Gaming consoles, smart TVs, and streaming devices (e.g., Apple TV and Roku)

The Spotify interface has been redesigned several times over the years but remains user-friendly and visually appealing. It is divided into three main sections: Home, Your Library, and Search. The Home section houses recently played songs, suggested playlists, new releases, and more. Your Library organizes your saved and downloaded content, while the Search section allows you to find new music and lists your recent searches for easy access.

YouTube Music

YouTube Music, as an extension of the popular video platform, also boasts a polished and visually appealing interface. While not as widely available on devices as Spotify, YouTube Music can still be accessed on:

  • iOS and Android devices (including CarPlay and Android Auto)
  • Compatible smartwatches
  • Sonos speakers
  • Chromecast
  • Web browsers and the YouTube app on smart TVs

The YouTube Music interface is divided into sections similar to Spotify’s, with Home, Explore, and Library being the main areas. Home offers personalised content based on your usage, while Explore focuses on new releases, charts, and trending music. The Library section houses your playlists, liked songs, albums, and artists.

Winner: Spotify

Spotify takes the lead in this category due to its wider device compatibility and slightly more visually appealing design.

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2. Library and Content Discovery

Both Spotify and YouTube Music offer massive libraries with around 100 million tracks each. However, where they differ is in their approach to content discovery.


Spotify is known for its excellent content discovery features, thanks to its personalized playlists like Discover Weekly, Daily Mixes, and Release Radar. The platform also provides numerous auto-generated playlists and radio stations based on your listening habits and preferences. With its extensive library of podcasts and the recent addition of audiobooks, Spotify offers a diverse range of content for users to explore.

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Spotify vs. YouTube Music: so alike, but which is best for you? 7

Its Search section also includes various categories to browse, such as Made for You, Soundtracks for Your Day, Live Events, Charts, and Decades. Spotify constantly adds new discovery features, ensuring that users are always presented with fresh content to enjoy.

YouTube Music

YouTube Music’s content discovery features are similar to Spotify’s, with personalized playlists like Discover Mix and My Super Mix. The platform also offers a New Release Mix and “Similar To” lists based on artists you might like. However, YouTube Music’s offering isn’t as extensive as Spotify’s, and it lacks the depth of discovery options found on the latter platform.

Winner: Spotify

Spotify’s content discovery features are hard to beat, making it the clear winner in this category.

Also Read : Spotify Surpasses 500 Million Users Amid Widening Losses: A Q1 2023 Analysis

3. Features and Functions

Spotify and YouTube Music share many basic features and functions, such as playback controls, library management, and lyrics display (when available). Both platforms also allow users to connect to speakers and devices in their home. However, there are some differences worth noting.

Spotify offers collaborative playlists with friends and a highly anticipated yearly Wrapped event, which provides users with a personalized summary of their listening habits. YouTube Music, on the other hand, does not currently offer these features.

Winner: Tie

Functionally, both Spotify and YouTube Music are very similar, making it a tie in this category.

4. Sound Quality

Spotify and YouTube Music have yet to offer lossless or high-resolution audio formats like some competitors (e.g., Tidal, Apple Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited). However, there are differences in sound quality between the two platforms.

Spotify offers higher sound quality, with its free version streaming at a maximum of 160kbps (128kbps for the web player) and its premium version offering up to 320kbps. YouTube Music’s free version streams at a maximum of 128kbps, while its premium version reaches up to 256kbps.

Winner: Spotify

Spotify wins in this category due to its higher sound quality, although casual listeners may not notice a significant difference between the two platforms.

5. Pricing and Plans

Spotify and YouTube Music offer similar pricing structures for their premium plans, with individual, family, and student options available. Both platforms also provide ad-supported free tiers with access to their entire content libraries.

Spotify Premium Plans

  • Individual: $10 per month
  • Duo: $13 per month (for two people in the same household)
  • Family: $16 per month (for up to 6 accounts)
  • Student: $5 per month

YouTube Music Premium Plans

  • Individual: 12 per month with a YouTube Premium membership)
  • Family: 20 per month with a YouTube Premium membership)
  • Student: 7 per month with a YouTube Premium membership)

Winner: Tie

Spotify and YouTube Music offer similar pricing and plans, making it a tie in this category. While Spotify provides an additional Duo tier, YouTube Music allows users with a YouTube Premium membership to access additional benefits.

6. Content Variety

Both Spotify and YouTube Music offer diverse content libraries, but there are some differences in the variety of content available on each platform.


Spotify’s library is extensive and diverse, with a wide range of genres and both mainstream and indie artists. The platform also offers over 7,000 audiobooks and a vast collection of podcasts, with over 3.6 million titles available.

YouTube Music

While YouTube Music’s library is similarly vast, it does not currently offer audiobooks or podcasts. However, the platform’s integration with YouTube videos provides a unique element, with access to music videos, live performances, and other music-related content.

Winner: Spotify

Spotify’s diverse content offering, including podcasts and audiobooks, gives it the edge in this category.

7. Free Plan Comparison

While both Spotify and YouTube Music offer free, ad-supported tiers, there are some differences in the features and limitations of their respective free plans:

FeaturesYouTube Music Free PlanSpotify Free Plan
Access to entire libraryYesYes
Ad skipsAfter 5 secondsNo
Background playYes (Web player only)Yes (All platforms)
Song skipsYes (Unlimited)Yes (Max 6 songs/hour)
On-demand playbackYes (All platforms)Yes (Desktop and web player)
Offline streamingNoNo
Playback modesSong and video modeNo video mode
Audio quality settingsVaries by platformVaries by platform
Highest audio quality128kbps160kbps

Winner: YouTube Music

YouTube Music’s free plan offers more flexibility and fewer restrictions than Spotify’s, making it the better option for users who don’t want to commit to a premium subscription.

8. Additional Subscription Plans and Features

Both Spotify and YouTube Music offer additional subscription plans and features that cater to different user needs.

Spotify’s Premium Duo plan allows two people living at the same address to have separate Premium accounts for a discounted price. Additionally, Spotify’s Premium Family plan includes access to Spotify Kids, while the Premium Student plan offers access to Hulu and SHOWTIME.

YouTube Music offers a YouTube Premium membership, which provides access to YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Originals for an additional fee.

Winner: Spotify

Spotify’s wide range of subscription plans and additional features make it the more versatile option for users with varying needs and preferences.

9. Content Discovery

Both Spotify and YouTube Music offer content discovery features to help users find new music and artists to enjoy. However, Spotify’s content discovery algorithm is more advanced and provides a more personalized experience for users.


Spotify’s content discovery features include personalized playlists such as Discover Weekly, Daily Mixes, and Release Radar. The platform also offers numerous auto-generated playlists and radio stations based on users’ listening habits and preferences.

YouTube Music

YouTube Music’s content discovery features include personalized playlists like Discover Mix and My Super Mix. While these playlists are decent, they are not as comprehensive as Spotify’s offering.

Winner: Spotify

Spotify’s advanced content discovery algorithm provides users with a superior experience when it comes to finding new music and artists to enjoy.

10. Artist Royalties and Earnings

Both Spotify and YouTube Music pay artists royalties for their music, but there are differences in the rates and opportunities for earnings on each platform.

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Spotify pays artists an average of 0.002 per stream. However, YouTube Music offers additional earning opportunities for artists through ad placements, micro-sync royalties, and the YouTube Content ID system.

Winner: YouTube Music

While both platforms offer royalties to artists, YouTube Music’s additional earning opportunities make it the more attractive option for artists looking to grow their audience and income.


In summary, Spotify and YouTube Music both offer strong music streaming experiences, but each has its strengths and weaknesses. Spotify’s wider device compatibility, content variety, and advanced content discovery features make it an excellent choice for dedicated music lovers. On the other hand, YouTube Music’s more flexible free plan, video content integration, and additional earning opportunities for artists give it a unique appeal.

Ultimately, the choice between Spotify and YouTube Music will come down to your personal preferences and priorities. We recommend trying out both platforms’ free trials to get a feel for their offerings and decide which one best suits your needs.


Is it better to listen to music on YouTube or Spotify?

Spotify excels in podcasts and music discovery, while YouTube Music offers a more affordable family plan and a better free option without Spotify’s restrictions. Although Spotify is popular, there are other alternatives.

Does YouTube Music use less data than Spotify?

Streaming music or videos in standard quality, Spotify uses approximately 150MB per hour, while YouTube consumes around 500MB per hour. However, at higher quality, Spotify uses around 400MB per hour compared to YouTube’s 1GB per hour.

Can you use YouTube Music without Wi-Fi?

YouTube Music Premium members can enjoy offline content by downloading songs, videos, and podcasts to their mobile devices. Reconnecting to the internet at least once every 30 days is necessary to maintain downloads.

Why choose Spotify over YouTube?

Overall, Spotify surpasses YouTube Music in various aspects. It offers better audio quality, subscription flexibility, and additional access to other streaming services like Spotify Kids, Hulu, and SHOWTIME.

Which is the most widely used music streaming service?

Spotify is the answer. With its user-friendly interface, social features, vast music and podcast library, Spotify reigns as the world’s most popular streaming platform. It boasts 350 million users, with 150 million subscribers.