Music has been an integral part of the human civilisation since its dawn. Every one of us has at least one fond memory of, either having a dance in the shower or crying to the saddest love songs after a breakup. Music helps transcends boundaries, be it of nationality or religion or caste or creed.
We are the luckiest generation of humans to have lived on the face of the earth. With the advent of the internet, knowledge, information, entertainment, everything is now just one click away and the music industry is no stranger to this.
YouTube, the video-sharing multibillion-dollar platform ($90 Billion to be precise) is responsible for revolutionalising the video industry. Spotify on the other hand, the name synonymous to music these days, a $30 billion empire in itself, has been known to have made a dent in the music world with its out of the world algorithms and enormous collection.
To compare these giants we would look at each of them individually based on certain traits like audio quality, pricing etc.
Both of the platforms offer free as well as premium versions of their product. The features available to the free users differ widely in each case as we would discuss soon.
If you are not willing to shell out any money and want to know which is better as a free service, SPOTIFY is your answer. This is not a biased opinion, trust me. If you still don’t agree read on. Sooooooooo
Let the battle begin.
The first and foremost metric anyone would use to judge anything is obviously price. The financial angle is always important to determine the efficiency of the products and understanding whether to skip some features in order to save more because the pricing may seem cheap but when paid every month over an elongated period is high enough.
Being the brainchild of a billion dollar company with various sources of funding, YouTube music unlike Spotify is capable of keeping its prices well under check. With a plan for family, students just like any other leading music player these days, YouTube Music is certainly looking to revamp music experience.
The free version of YouTube Music however is a clear loser here. There’s no real sugar-coating it: using YouTube Music as a free user is bad. There are ads every three to six songs, and you can’t leave the Now Playing screen, so it hogs your screen and your battery. YouTube Music is worlds better when you unlock its paid features. YouTube Premium is absolutely worth paying for.
When it comes to pricing, Spotify might not emerge as the winner mainly owing to the fact that it has been in the business around 11 years now and has a LARGE customer base. Whereas YouTube Music needs to keep its prices low in order to attract users. More or less similar to the ungodly discounts you got on Uber and Ola when they launched.
The pricing for Spotify in India is as shown in the photo below.
The catch here however is the wide array of options you get to choose from for Spotify premium. The free version of the app is also light years ahead of YouTube Music owing to the fact that you can actually listen to the songs with the screen off. I can vouch for this on account of writing this very line while listening to Fur Elise by The Flamenco Man.
CONCLUDING this metric, it can be effectively realised that YouTube Music wins the price war (not just in India but almost all other countries too) and Spotify does not stand a chance as YouTube subscription with just 2 dollars a month more provides you with not just YouTube Music premium but YouTube premium as well along with access to YouTube originals and Google Play Music as well.
BUT, when it comes to choosing one for free use, YouTube Music does NOT stand a chance! Spotify takes home the trophy in that case.
Having dissected the financial aspect of both now let’s move on to the second most important factor when deciding the winner of the two. The abundance of content is not the only factor responsible for the judgement here as the quality and variety of it matters just as much.
We would talk about not just music content like language and more but also the variety of covers, remixes and much more along with podcasts, radio etc.
YouTube Music has not revealed how many tracks are in the YouTube Music library. But given YouTube’s close partnerships with labels, you certainly won’t face issues with locating a particular track on YouTube Music as almost every major or slightly minor song is covered as they have obtained licenses from every major music house.
On top of that, YouTube Music lets you stream music or video from YouTube’s extensive mix of fan covers, remixes, mashups, and concert clips. YouTube is also home to thousands of non-label tracks which you won’t find on any music streaming platform except for YouTube Music.
Talking specifically about India, YouTube Music has a better collection than Spotify when it comes to regional or Hindi songs as its license acquiring process was completely smooth unlike Spotify which did face several blows. Same goes for the K-Pop genre wherein again YouTube wins.
Spotify houses a collection of more than 40 MILLION soundtracks. So basically any music of any era is covered along with popular remixes, covers and also live concert covers. So anything from Camila Cabello’s latest Havana to Winds of Change by The Scorpions, all the way back from the 1970’s.
To add to this vast list we have podcasts as well as many other forms of music relevant along with radio experience which is something you do not get to hear much these days.
However, when it comes to regional songs, Spotify is all out of glitter. With disputes for Hindi songs and others, while launching in India, its library of it is a little limited. This does not mean that you wouldn’t be able to find all your favourite artists.
But if you are a REAL music fan looking for those obscure artists that speak just to you, you might not be able to find them.
CONCLUDING this metric, for music streaming services, content is the ultimate differentiator, and both Spotify and YouTube Music have an extremely deep content base. The platforms also support algorithm-based playlists curated based on moods, activities, artists, etc.
But YouTube owing to its ties with the parent company takes away the prize for just music while Spotify wins for radio, podcasts etc.
Since we are talking about music and sound basically, it becomes imperative that we talk about the sound quality of the music being offered. Just like you would obviously discuss whether or not HD option is available and what is the fps being offered while choosing between Netflix and Prime or even buying a new laptop.
YouTube Music can play content at a bitrate of up to 256kbps AAC. However, to enjoy the maximum quality, you’ll need to be a premium subscriber.
That being said, if you’d like to preserve data, YouTube Music is a better option since its data saver mode turns down the level to 48kbps AAC. AAC is a better coder over the conventional mp3. The difference however is very minute and not something anyone less than an expert would feel.
Spotify, on the other hand, uses a conventional mp3 coder but its bit rate is slightly higher at 320 kbps and hence the war still stands between who is the better of the two.
Again, the maximum sound quality is achieved only through premium subscription but if you are worrying that a free subscription might have bad sound quality, fret not. The sound quality as mentioned is rarely distinguishable and I say this as Beethoven’s 5th symphony plays in my headphones right now in the Spotify free version and boy is it CLEAR.
However, if you are big at saving data, Spotify can go only as low as about 96 kbps, so do keep that in mind.
CONCLUDING the metric, If you are looking for an experience with the best possible sound quality, try Spotify and if you are big on saving data and can compromise on the sound quality, you can move on to YouTube Music.
CROSS PLATFORM SUPPORT
Listening to Music might be something you only relate to with on your mobile phones but that is not always the case as many users play music on their laptops or even TV if the app is supported. On the basis of the devices that the platforms support, let’s look at who would be winning this one.
YouTube Music is obviously supported by both android and an iOS device as the app is available for easy download on Playstore and Appstore both. However that is when the battle ends as YouTube Music doesn’t have any tailored app for Windows or Linux operating systems and if you ever wish to play songs using your account on your laptop, you would need to open its website by searching through Google.
To add to it, it is also not easy to use on your smart TV or Amazon Firestick. So for anywhere other than the comfort of your mobile phones, YouTube Music becomes cumbersome however, they are working on the apps for each of these and they might be up ad running by the time you read te article so do check.
Spotify having been in this business for over a decade has already established a strong footing along with ease of using the app across all devices. The Spotify app is available not just for Android and iOS devices but also on your smartTV’s and Amazon Firestick.
The app is also extremely easy to use across all devices be it mobile, laptop or your TV. The devices can also be interconnected under one account and you can cast audio from your mobile to your laptop or even TV. The best part however is that this feature of Spotify is available to even its free users!
CONCLUDING the metric, there doesn’t seem to be any battle here as Spotify emerges the clear winner with impeccable UI and UX along with an easy option of switching between apps on your laptop or TV screens. The transition is seamless and so is the effort in using.
On the other hand YouTube Music is not quite there yet if you compare it with Spotify standards however it is definitely on the rise and would be catching up with the music giant pretty soon it seems.
ALGORITHM & DISCOVERY
Music in old days used to be records and the prospect of exploring new genres and artists was utterly impossible unless one came to your house and played for you. But now, thanks to Spotify, the music industry revolutionalised and you now have the opportunity to listen to Any artist you like across the face of the earth.
Being relatively new, despite having a better music library, YouTube doesn’t have as competitive an algorithm for discovery or suggestion.
YouTube Music’s set of tools for discovery feel limited. There aren’t a ton of playlists, nor do you have particular genres for moods or activities. There’s a constantly updated mixtape based on your listening preferences though much like Spotify.
There are a few areas where YouTube does shine though and those are quite good. For example, YouTube can recommend you interesting covers and mashups of the songs you hear the most or recently liked because obviously it has the entire YOUTUBE directory at its disposal. On top of that, its algorithm also allows it to download mixtapes it knows you will like based on your listening history and preferences.
Some experts actually claim Spotify has a better and clever algorithm than even Google. Yes, GOOGLE. The company whose algorithm is the reason Internet is what it is today.
This claim does seem true when you use Spotify on a daily basis. There are recommendations every week on Monday sharp and they are honestly wonderful. Songs during each new Monday iteration are new and something which you would have never heard before. A collection of 30 new songs each week closely resembling your taste in music. HOW FREAKING GREAT IS THAT!
Plus, Spotify hosts specific genres for moods and activities. That allows you to simply search for topics like “Focus”, and Spotify will instantly pull up white noise playlists. An automated radio station can be launched from any track or artist you like as well.
CONCLUDING the metric. Spotify takes the centre stage as the algorithm and fresh recommendations are far superior to what YouTube has to offer. But for a novice company, YouTube Music sure shows enough signs to be able to surpass Spotify quite easily.
These were some of the major metrics that you consider while thinking about which subscription to pay for. Even if money is not an issue and you end up buying both of these, you would eventually end up using only one as you cannot have your music in two places at the same time as it becomes incredibly hectic. Let us look at some other features that both of these platforms have to offer.
- Cross fade tracks (up to 12 seconds).
- Sync playlist across devices.
- Multi-device log-in support.
- Phone’s equaliser settings to adjust audio output.
- Broadcast – allows other apps on your device to see what you are listening to and also share it.
- Play on local devices (TV, computer or speaker) connected over the same WiFi network.
- Download audio tracks.
- Integration with YouTube to play video-based songs.
- Double tap to seek 10 seconds.
- Phone’s equaliser settings to adjust audio output.
- Google subtitles support (not lyrics).
- Option to switch between video or music only.
- History option to revisit songs streamed/searched in past.
After much thought, testing and reading reviews online, this article was formed. No biases were held during its writing as can be clearly felt. Both YouTube Music and Spotify are amazing apps that cater to your musical needs.
However, based on pure data and experience along with facts we have a few conclusions drawn up for you.
If you are looking for a cheap music platform & does almost everything you want, YouTube Music is the way to go. It is hurriedly catching up and most likely set to surpass it in terms of breadth and more pretty soon.
If you are ready to spend a little bit more but have an amazing experience with music, Spotify is the answer.
One thing remains for certain though and that is the fact that if you don’t want to shell out any bucks towards this endeavour and want to enjoy whatever benefits you can get for free. There is ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT that Spotify is the answer to your dilemma.