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YouTube Music vs Spotify: Which is Best for Music?

YouTube, Spotify – which one is better? We compare both platforms head-to-head to see which one offers the better streaming experience. 
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YouTube vs Spotify Comparison
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For music lovers, or even podcast fans, two of the premium streaming services that you’ll want to compare are YouTube vs Spotify. You’ll find all of the top artists, from Drake to Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and even artists from the 1920s, on these platforms.

In terms of catalogs, you’ll have a lifetime of music to enjoy without needing to listen to a song more than once.

Of course, you’ll need to know a few things:

  • YouTube is not YouTube Music
  • We’re going to focus on YouTube Music

You can also find an abundance of music on regular YouTube, but its Music platform is a true, direct competitor to Spotify.

YouTube Music vs Spotify: Comparison Guide

If you’re searching for the best music streaming platform, consider the following:

2024 Pricing YouTube vs Spotify đź’µ

Pricing is often the deciding factor when choosing streaming platforms. You’ll find both are priced similarly, but pricing will vary based on country. We’re going to list US prices for this article:

  • Spotify: Multiple pricing tiers are available. $5.99/mo for students; $10.99/mo for individuals; $14.99/mo for the Duo plan and $16.99/mo for Family.
  • YouTube Music: $10.99/mo ($109.99 paid for the year) for single users, $16.99 for up to 5 family members; $5.49/mo for students.

In terms of pricing, you’ll find that both are competitive. You’ll pay the same for the individual and family plans, but Spotify does have a Duo plan available. If you try either using a free trial offer, you can easily cancel YouTube Music or Spotify at any time.

Maximum Number of Users Per Account đź‘Ą

The maximum number of users on your account is set based on the membership tier. Family plans allow for multiple users, so this is what we’ll be comparing.

  • Spotify: Family members must live under one roof, and you’re limited to six total Premium accounts.
  • YouTube Music: YouTube’s family plan allows one main user plus an additional five family members that can be added to the account.

You’ll find that YouTube and Spotify have a lot of mirrored features and options, such as the pricing being the same and the maximum user accounts matched.

Music and Podcast Catalogs

Users want a vast music library even if they will never listen to 99% of songs or artists. But each platform has an extensive discovery option that will help you find new music and artists to enjoy.

Spotify’s extensive playlists will help you find new artists, and this is one of the big advantages of the platform over YouTube Music.

With this in mind, let’s look at the size of each platform’s library:

  • Spotify: 100+ million songs
  • YouTube Music: 100+ million songs

Spotify does offer the benefit of being able to listen to up to 15 hours of audiobooks per month, and they have exclusivity deals with certain podcasts, meaning you’ll only find these hosts on the platform.

However, since the start of 2024, we’ve seen Spotify loosen its grip on exclusive podcasts.

Even Joe Rogan’s show, which was exclusive to the platform and paid over $200 million for this right, is no longer exclusive to Spotify.

Sound Quality 🔊

Audio experts and enthusiasts can tell the difference between sound quality from the moment that they hear a song. It’s an impressive skill and tuning of the ear to know the difference between 96kbits and 160kbits.

Spotify’s Premium version has a 256kbit/s sound quality on the web and 128kbit/s on the free web player.

On desktop, mobile or tablet, you’ll find that quality will be:

  • 24kbit/s on low
  • 96kbit/s on normal
  • 160kbit/s on high
  • 320kbit/s on very high

What is YouTube Music’s sound quality?

YouTube has a better low-quality sound of 48kbit/s. The results of the quality stats are as follows:

  • 128kbit/s on normal
  • 256kbit/s on high

Who wins in the comparison of YouTube vs Spotify for sound quality? It seems the winner is Spotify. The very high tier on Spotify is higher than YouTube Music, but the quality below this is generally better on YouTube Music.

User Interface and Device Options

Both YouTube and Spotify have dark-themed interfaces and box grid layouts for both albums and playlists. Both platforms have very similar appearances, with vertical navigation menus on the left side of the page that gives easy access to:

  • Your library
  • Your playlists

With YouTube Music, you can also view the Explore page to find new artists. Spotify will show you your most recent activity.

1. Searching for Music on Desktop

Searching for music is easy on both platforms, and they each have user-friendly player controls. But YouTube Music also makes it easy to find music based on your mood: feel good, romance, relax, energize, etc.

One advantage YouTube Music has is that it’s easy to find music charts to see which songs are trending anywhere in the world. Spotify also has Top X playlists, but you have to search for them. Spotify does have artfully crafted playlists based on a variety of themes.

Spotify also has an AI-like radio station feature called DJ, which has animated album artwork, song previews, video clips, podcasts and more. The platform provides no shortage of recommendations and suggestions for new songs and artists, which gives it a slight advantage over YouTube Music.

2. App Quality and Searches

Both YouTube Music and Spotify can be used on any internet-connected device. They each have browser-based music players as well as dedicated apps for mobile devices. The mobile apps are speedy and even easier to navigate.

Because YouTube Music is tied to your Google account, you can stream to compatible smartwatches, Chromecast devices and Sonos speakers. 

When using the search feature on the Spotify or YouTube Music app, you can quickly and easily filter the results. While similar in many ways, each platform presents search results in different ways.

  • YouTube Music has more detailed search results that include videos, albums, top songs and other related content
  • Spotify shows you only the songs and featured playlists for artists

Spotify’s mobile app also has Clips, which are short-form videos that make the platform feel a little more like a social network. YouTube music doesn’t have this option, but you can switch between audio-only and video mode.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Spotify Have a Free Version?

Yes, Spotify does have a free version. However, the audio quality on the free tier is limited to 160 kbps. There are other restrictions with the free variation, too, including:

- No ability to skip ads
- A maximum of six song skips per hour
- No offline streaming options

Despite these restrictions, it’s still possible to enjoy your favorite music on-demand with Spotify free.

Does YouTube Music Have a Free Version?

Yes, YouTube Music also has a free version. Even with a free account, you get:

- Access to the entire music library
- Ad skips after five seconds
- Unlimited song skips
- On-demand playback

However, no offline streaming options are available and audio quality is limited to 129 kbps. While YouTube’s audio quality on the free tier isn’t on par with Spotify, casual listeners won’t be able to tell the difference between the two.
Switching to the premium versions of both streaming platforms will give you a better overall audio experience.

Does Spotify Pay Musicians Well?

Spotify offers a revenue split of about 70/30, with 70% going to musicians and 30% to Spotify. Artists earn about $0.003 - $0.005 per stream on average. That’s about $300-$500 per 100,000 streams.

Does YouTube Pay Musicians Well?

On YouTube, artists are paid $0.00164 per stream on their own channel’s streams (music and lyric videos etc.) and about $0.002 per stream on YouTube Music. That’s about $200 for 100,000 streams.

How Big is Spotify’s Music Library?

Spotify has more than 100 million songs in its library. They also have over 5 million podcasts and 350,000+ audiobooks.

How Big is YouTube Music’s Library?

YouTube Music also has over 100 million songs in its library. They also have an extensive collection of live performances, remixes, music videos, podcasts and more.

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