YouTube Music vs. Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which Is the Best Music Streaming Service

YouTube music vs Spotify

Music streaming services have become the most popular way people listen to music today. With millions of songs available on-demand, music streaming offers unparalleled convenience compared to buying albums or digital downloads.

The three primary players in music streaming right now are YouTube Music, Apple Music, and Spotify. But with the YouTube music vs. Spotify competition heating up, along with unique features and extensive catalogs offered by each, how do you choose the best streaming service for your needs?

This comprehensive comparison breaks down the key differences between YouTube Music, Apple Music, and Spotify across critical factors like library size, audio quality, platform availability, music discovery, pricing, and more.

Comparing Library Size and Song Availability

The library size, or total number of songs available, is an important consideration when selecting a music streaming platform. The larger the song catalog, the higher the chance the service has your favorite artists and songs.

YouTube Music leverages YouTube’s vast collection of official music videos and songs to offer over 60 million tracks. This includes official album releases as well as live performances, remixes, covers, and rare tracks only on YouTube.

Apple Music has over 75 million songs in its catalog from both major and independent labels. It has the entire iTunes music library plus new and exclusive album releases every week.

Spotify currently has a library of over 70 million songs from labels and media companies. This includes all the big hits and latest releases. Spotify also has over 4 million podcast titles in its catalog.

Overall, YouTube Music likely has the most comprehensive song catalog, thanks to all the unofficial remixes, covers, and live material on YouTube.

Apple Music and Spotify also have extremely large libraries with all the mainstream music you want.

Comparing Audio Quality and Streaming Formats

Audio quality is a key consideration for any music service. The higher the bitrate and fidelity, the better your music will sound when streamed.

YouTube Music uses the 256 kbps AAC format for standard tracks and videos. Apple Music also uses 256 kbps AAC by default but offers a Hi-Res

Lossless tier with up to 24-bit/192 kHz lossless quality. This provides audiophile-level fidelity.

Spotify uses the Ogg Vorbis format and streams at 320 kbps for Premium subscribers. This provides quality slightly better than regular YouTube Music and Apple Music streams.

So Apple Music has a clear advantage with lossless Hi-Res streaming support. But Spotify streams at an ever-so-slightly higher bitrate than standard YouTube Music and Apple Music for most users. All three services are sufficient for casual listening.

Comparing Platform and Device Support

It’s important to consider what devices and platforms are supported by each music streaming service. This includes mobile apps, desktop apps, smart speakers, smart TVs, cars, and gaming consoles.

YouTube Music has mobile apps for iOS and Android, plus a web player. It supports Google/Nest smart speakers and Android TV and has limited support for Samsung smart TVs and Xbox.

Apple Music has extensive support across Apple’s ecosystem, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod. It also offers apps for Android, Windows, Echo speakers, and Fire TV. PlayStation 5 is the only gaming console supported.

Spotify has the most diverse platform and device support, including iOS, Android, Windows, Xbox, PlayStation, various smart TVs and Blu-ray players, Roku, Google Home/Nest, Amazon Fire TV, Apple Watch, and more. CarPlay and Android Auto integration are also offered.

For the most flexibility across devices, Spotify is the winner, followed by Apple Music. YouTube Music needs to expand beyond Google/Android ecosystems to match Spotify’s ubiquity.

Comparing Music Discovery Features

Discovery features like customized recommendations and curated playlists are critical for finding new music on streaming services. Let’s compare how YouTube Music, Apple Music, and Spotify stack up here.

YouTube Music provides personalized recommendations on its Home tab, including trending videos, famous artists, and playlists based on your tastes. You can find dedicated playlists for genres, activities, decades, moods, and more.

Apple Music’s For You tab offers suggested albums, playlists, and daily mixes tailored to your listening history and preferences. Other discovery features include daily playlists, radio stations, and in-depth editorial content about new music.

Spotify arguably has the most advanced music discovery through its personalized machine-learning algorithms. It surfaces new music, playlists, and podcasts based on your listening activity and tastes. Spotify is also known for its human-curated playlists like RapCaviar.

Overall, Spotify leads for music discovery, followed by Apple Music. YouTube Music has basic algorithmic recommendations but needs more human-curated playlists and content to compete.

Comparing Social and Community Features

The social and community aspect of music streaming apps has grown in popularity. People enjoy sharing music and connecting with other fans on these platforms.

YouTube Music lacks substantial social features. You can only see recent activity from channels you subscribe to on YouTube. There is no option to follow friends’ profiles or playlists. Comments are available but not personalized.

Apple Music lets you follow friends and see their profiles, playlists, and recent activity. The Friends feed shows what people you follow are listening to in real-time. Artists can also publicly share music and updates on their pages.

Spotify has the most robust social experience. You can follow friends, see their real-time activity, collaborate on playlists, and share music via Spotify’s messaging platform. Spotify also has a lively community ecosystem.

Once again, Spotify is the winner here with its vibrant social environment, followed by Apple Music. YouTube Music severely lags on meaningful social components.

Comparing Access to Music Videos

Regarding streaming music videos, YouTube Music and Apple Music shine thanks to licensing from record labels. Spotify still focuses solely on audio.

YouTube Music provides seamless access to YouTube’s catalog of billions of music videos, all integrated cleanly with audio results. Go to the “Videos” tab when searching for an artist or song.

Apple Music also provides a substantial collection of music videos from artists across genres as part of its streaming catalog. You can find them through search results, artist’s pages, or curated video playlists.

So, YouTube Music and Apple Music are excellent choices for enjoying music videos alongside audio. Spotify currently lacks any kind of video content.

Comparing Smart Assistant Integration

Smart speakers and voice assistants have become popular ways to access streaming music services. Let’s compare the smart assistant and smart home device integrations offered.

YouTube Music fully integrates with Google Assistant, Google/Nest smart speakers, and displays. You can use voice commands to play music, control playback, queue up playlists, and more.

Apple Music has full integration with Siri and HomePod speakers. You can use “Hey Siri” voice commands to access Apple Music on iOS or HomePod. Support for Alexa and Google Assistant is limited.

Spotify also offers extensive integration with Google Assistant and Alexa. With the respective assistants, you can voice control Spotify on smart speakers like Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Sonos One.

Once again, Spotify edges out the competition with support for significant intelligent assistants. However, all three services offer robust voice control capabilities for smart speakers and phones.

Comparing Pricing and Plans

Pricing is often a key factor when selecting any streaming service. Let’s see how the subscription costs compare between YouTube Music, Apple Music, and Spotify:

YouTube Music

  • Individual: $9.99/month
  • YouTube Premium (Music + ad-free YouTube): $11.99/month

Apple Music

  • Individual: $9.99/month
  • Family (up to 6 members): $15.99/month
  • Student: $4.99/month (Unlimited access)


  • Individual: $9.99/month (ad-supported)
  • Premium: $12.99/month (ad-free)
  • Family: $15.99/month
  • Student: $4.99/month

The pricing is broadly similar across the major players. Individual plans cost around $10/month, while family plans cost around $16/month for sharing up to six people. Students get discounted rates.

YouTube Music lacks a dedicated family plan for now. But its Premium bundle adds ad-free YouTube and Music for just $2 more, providing higher overall value.

So, pricing should not be the deciding factor here. Focus instead on the features and catalog that appeal most to your listening preferences.

The Verdict: Which Music Streaming Service Should You Choose?

So which service reigns supreme – YouTube Music, Apple Music, or Spotify? Here is a quick rundown of the key pros and cons of each option:

YouTube Music

  • Pros: Largest song/video catalog, deep YouTube integration
  • Cons: Lacks social features and curated playlists

Apple Music

  • Pros: Lossless audio quality, excellent human curation, iOS integration
  • Cons: Smaller catalog than competitors, limited social features


  • Pros: Best music discovery algorithms, robust social features, cross-platform ubiquity
  • Cons: No lossless audio, lacks video content

Overall, Spotify stands out as the most well-rounded service for music listening and discovery. But Apple Music takes the top spot for audio quality and human curation. YouTube Music is great for hardcore YouTube fans who want deep video integration.

Consider which features are must-haves for you, like song catalog, audio fidelity, device support, etc. Try out free trials for each service first. An ideal option may be subscribing to multiple services like Spotify and Apple Music to enjoy each platform’s best features. The music streaming landscape offers great choices – it’s about finding the right service or combination that fits your lifestyle.

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