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Spotify premium has tons of great extra features, and it's worth the money if you're considering a paid music streaming subscription. If you watch a lot of YouTube, the various pre-roll and mid-roll ads get real annoying real quick. You can remove those ads by signing up for YouTube Premium. Shellling out a few bucks for one of the best streaming platforms aslo has another perk; it includes a YouTube Music subscription. Although YT Music doesn't have the same cache as YT Music or Qobuz, it has most of the same music. If you're paying for a separate streaming service, YouTube Music could be a good (and free) alternative. So, you may wonder: Could I fully make the switch from Spotify to YouTube Music?
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YouTube Music definitely gets some things right, but there are still gaps in its capabilities that Spotify makes obvious. In short, while YouTube Music has enough for most people as a standalone music service, for power users, there are things to know about where it stands right now when it comes to certain features. Still, there's no denying the value of Google's bundled package, especially if you watch a lot of YouTube.
Let's start with the advantages you'll get with a YouTube Music account.
It's a good value for the money
Both YouTube Music and Spotify Premium subscriptions cost the same, including family and student plans. However, if you're considering signing up for YouTube Premium, it will cost you $12 a month, which is $2 more than what you'd pay for Spotify Premium or YouTube Music. For that small premium, you can watch videos without any ads, download them, and play them in the background, which is worth considering, especially if you travel often or watch a lot of YouTube videos.
Family and student plans are also available and cost $18 and $7, respectively, compared to $15 and $5 for a music-only membership. If you just need a two-person subscription, consider Spotify's Duo offer, which costs $13 monthly, but we think the YouTube Premium family membership is the one that makes the most sense if you'd like to share it with loved ones.
Turn YouTube videos into songs
If you like to listen to covers, live shows, and other video content, you're more likely to find these on YouTube than on a music streaming platform. Thankfully, YouTube Music lets you browse regular videos and play them as songs, add them to playlists, and download them. Depending on what kind of music you listen to, you might appreciate finding unpopular songs more easily with Google's offering than Spotify's.
It's easier to check your listening history on YouTube Music
Checking what songs you've been listening to may make little sense, but it's handy when you've heard a song and want to know its name. For example, if Spotify plays a song you like, you can't go back to view the history if you're using a mobile device. However, you can do this on the desktop app. YouTube Music is far simpler and lets you see what songs you've played directly from within the app, making it easier to find the one you liked.
YouTube Music makes it easy to find details about your favorite musicians and album
Have you ever wanted to play a song from a performer without being able to remember its title? There's nothing simpler than looking up an artist to find it, right? Well, with Spotify, that's surprisingly a pain. An artist's page only shows its top songs, so you're out of luck if the one you're looking for is less popular. YouTube Music is simpler than that, as the artist's page takes you to their full song list, making the search a little less painful.
YouTube Music (on the right) offers an option to "see all" songs
The search filters on YouTube Music are top notich
If you'd like to narrow down your search to display only songs, artists, or playlists, YouTube Music's filters are clearly displayed at the top of the page, making this more intuitive. Sure, Spotify offers the option to show just songs, artists, or playlists, but you have to scroll down and tap on one of the options, which seems a bit counterintuitive.
YouTube Music (on the right) has filters at the top
YouTube Music does a better job with shuffling music
This one remains a mystery for us. People have long complained about Spotify playlists being shuffled in the same order all the time, meaning whenever you play them, and whatever device you do it from, the songs always play in the same order.
We've personally never experienced that on YouTube Music. We tried several times and wrote down the order. It was different every time we checked. However, people don't complain about such an issue with YouTube Music, so switching apps might be better for you—if you have that weird problem.
Upload your music to the cloud (update)
In the same way that Google Play Music lets you upload your audio files to the cloud and play them on any device, YouTube Music offers a similar functionality. Well, with significant differences. The app can also be used to play files stored on your device, while Spotify doesn't offer either of these features. If you have a Play Music library already uploaded, you'll soon be able to transfer it over, too.
Update: Even though Spotify doesn't let you upload your songs to the cloud just yet, it's working on the option to let you play local audio files, which could hint the company is working on offering this feature.
You can play songs on YouTube Music in parallel on different devices
If you're a Spotify user, you probably know you can't play different songs using separate devices with the same account, as the active one would automatically cut playback on all others. However, you can play three different songs at the same time on your phone, smart speaker, and Mac, for example, using your account. This may be a bug, as it would defeat the purpose of having multiple accounts, but it can come in handy if you're playing songs in the living room for your kids and want to listen to music while working.
Now let's look at some of the disadvantages of using YouTube Music.
Spotify has integrated podcasts (but Google Podcast may be better)
This one was missing from our initial list, but if you like to listen to Podcasts, you can do this natively with Spotify. Sadly, you need to use Google Podcasts (or another solution) if you're a YouTube Music customer, as the app doesn't support the functionality and therefore doesn't let you browse podcast catalogs, let alone play them natively.
Spotify has a better selection of audiobooks, with a bunch more coming soon
Spotify started to add audiobooks to its collection in 2021, and it annouced its plans to purchase Findaway, an audiobook platform, in 2021. Right now the options are somewhat limited, but Spotify plans to make ebooks the third pillar or its service. These are recognized as actual books, with chapters and a specific interface.
When it comes to YouTube Music, there are some audiobooks available on the platform, as shown below. Still, these merely appear as albums, and each chapter is marked as a song, so the advantage goes to Spotify on this feature, at least regarding usability.
Spotify's search feature gives YouTube Music a run for its money
When searching for a song, Spotify displays the most popular ones directly while you type, which allows you to tap it immediately to start playing it. Unfortunately, YouTube Music requires an extra step, as you first need to tap the suggestion to bring up the search results and then select what you want to listen to. It might seem like we're exaggerating, but after using Spotify for such a long time, this extra step is annoying if you spontaneously want to listen to a song.
Spotify (on the left) gives direct access to songs in the search suggestions
Spotify Connect is really handy, and you're not going to find it on YouTube Music
Do you have a speaker that's compatible with both Google Cast and Spotify Connect? We do, but only use Google Cast when launching music from Assistant or for multiroom audio. Otherwise, we prefer using Spotify Connect because the music plays instantly on the speaker, while Google Cast needs several seconds to connect. That's no big deal when you haven't started listening to music yet, but it's extremely annoying to have your song cut for a few seconds if you want to transfer it from your phone to your speaker.
If eaiesr to control music from other devices on Spotify
One thing we loved with Spotify was the ability to control the music that was playing on a speaker from a phone, tablet, or Mac. It's convenient when you're cleaning, for instance, as you can grab whichever device is handy to change the music. If you used this a lot when working and had your earbuds connected to your phone, it would be easier to control Spotify using a PC or Mac.
Sadly, this isn't possible with YouTube Music, most probably because the app seems to isolate each session, as mentioned above, letting you play different songs on various devices using the same account simultaneously.
Incompatibility with some speakers
Even though Spotify is compatible with the vast majority of Wi-Fi speakers, it's hardly the case for YouTube Music. Some brands such as Sonos and Bose are giving a hard time to YouTube Music users by either not showing up as compatible cast devices or not working with the speaker's built-in Google Assistant.
Consider your options
Now that you know what we enjoy with YouTube Music and what drives us crazy, you'll probably have to figure out which features are more relevant to you and whether some are dealbreakers in your daily usage. Do we think YouTube Music is mature enough to face the competition? Yes, it is and will probably suit most people's usage. However, Spotify has been the market leader for much longer and has had more time to work on advanced features for power users. That being said, music is very personal, and the way you organize and consume it may vary significantly.
If you watch a lot of YouTube videos, the value you'd get out of Google's offering is probably more interesting, provided some of these drawbacks aren't too annoying for you. In any case, give both services a try since the two of them offer free 30-day trials. If you're ready to switch, use Soundiiz to transfer your library and playlists from one service to the other. It's simple and takes away the hassle of manually having to do so. Or check out one of the best local music players if you'd rather not stream your music.
YouTube MusicDeveloper: Google LLC
Spotify: Music, Podcasts, LitDeveloper: Spotify AB