Choosing a standard music streaming service is difficult when many options – each with a unique benefit – are available. Spotify is known for its music recognition algorithm. Apple Music is known for its variety of features and audio quality. And YouTube Music has the benefit of a huge catalog of old and new songs and videos uploaded to the platform.
Here we compare the three streaming services based on user interface, audio quality, and extra features to see which one works best for you!
plans and prices
You’ll find three basic plans for each service: Individual, Family, and Student with comparable prices. However, if these don’t meet your needs, Spotify and Apple each offer an additional plan that may better suit your needs. For Apple, that’s the Apple Music Voice plan; for Spotify, it’s the Duo plan, which is ideal for couples.
If you don’t mind the occasional ad between songs, Spotify and YouTube Music also offer a free plan that allows access to their catalog for free.
We’ve listed the plans and pricing for each service in the table below:
language plan: $4.99
Individual (Annual): $99.99
If you subscribe to the Student Plan on Spotify and Apple Music, you also get access to some video streaming services. Spotify’s Student plan grants access to Hulu’s ad-based streaming plan and SHOWTIME, while Apple Music gives you access to Apple TV+.
Photo by Mihis Alex via
Aside from finding the ideal subscription plan for streaming music, it’s important that you have access to good quality audio output. And of the three services, Apple Music has a fair lead in my opinion.
The service’s output to my AirPods Pro and Sony WH-1000XM4 is noticeably louder and has much more detail. Instrument separation is very important to me when listening to music and the service delivers. YouTube Music comes right after Apple Music and sometimes adjusts it in terms of volume and detail. Unfortunately, Spotify’s output doesn’t compare to either service.
Apple Music also offers high-resolution “lossless” audio, but it’s currently impossible to make the most of this feature on wireless earbuds. But for those with the right hardware, the availability of these higher-quality master files offers tremendous value. Spatial audio on duty also adds another layer of fun when you find a track that’s well mixed.
To sum it up, for those who appreciate more detail, go the route of Apple Music or maybe YouTube Music; Spotify still has a long way to go.
winner: Apple Music
search for clues
But while audio quality is something where we’re seeing Spotify fall behind, it has some of the best algorithms when it comes to finding tracks and recommendations.
Every new song I found and liked led me into a collection of music I hadn’t heard before. Yes, after a period of time, the recommendations repeat themselves, but the time between occurrences of such a situation was much longer when using Spotify.
I’ve switched between YouTube Music and Apple Music for all of my music over the past six months. And I’ve found that discovery with YouTube Music was great for the first few weeks, but once the repetitive suggestions kicked in, it became difficult to get new songs to appear. As far as Apple Music goes, I didn’t often get to suggest new songs, and even when I did, they weren’t quite what I expected.
But within my first half hour back on Spotify, I already had a few new songs in my library that none of the other services had pointed out to me. So if you’re looking for new music and trying to refresh your library, choosing Spotify won’t disappoint.
Application user interface
When I want to listen to music, I approach it with the idea of hearing a mix of familiar songs and new options that share some aspects with my library. The streaming app’s layout plays a key role in this, and here we’ll look at how these apps perform.
Of the three services, YouTube Music makes this experience the easiest. It selects some of your recently played music – and songs that played a few days ago – and allows you to launch a “radio” based on them with just a single tap. It places this near the top of the app’s home screen.
When you’re on the playback screen, you can drag the “Up Next” card from below to play familiar music or discover new tracks with the touch of a button.
The submenu behind the three dots button in the application also has different buttons to add tracks to your library and learn more about the artist.
Unlike YouTube Music, which uses a three-button bottom shelf, Apple Music offers its users five options – Listen Now, Browse, Radio, Library, and Search. Each section serves a unique purpose, but to quickly jump into a music session, you can tap on the suggested songs Hear Nowwhere you can find custom mixes and even new releases.
But what detracts from the experience here is adding songs to the queue and stating if you’re a fan. You have to go into a submenu to see the algorithm you love in a song instead of being able to quickly press the heart button. Additionally, when adding music to the queue, you must search for the song using the search menu or in your library. The former option is slow if you are looking for a lesser known artist or have never searched for the song before.
In recent years, Spotify has invested heavily in podcasts, so it aims to develop an application that seamlessly blends the two types of content. This made the application feel cluttered, but it has recently started rolling out a new interface that creates a separation between music and podcasts.
While there are tiles that let you quickly jump into an algorithm-based music mix, tap those Songs The button at the top of the home screen takes you to a dedicated section for tracks by different artists – some well-known and others Spotify thinks you might appreciate.
At the time of writing, users in the United States and Canada see TikTok-like short videos or images that push small chunks of songs, podcasts, and other shows available on the service to help you discover more content .
Since I use Spotify primarily for music and not podcasts, the buttons at the top make it easy to choose what I want to listen to or discover new artists. The application also has the most intuitive gestures and buttons to add tracks to the queue and show that you like them.
But overall, the simplicity of the YouTube Music application, which puts the music first, makes it a better option of the three.
winner: Youtube music
All three services are available on a wide range of devices as you can use them via downloadable apps on iOS, Android, tvOS, Google TV, PlayStation 5 and Xbox One. However, note that YouTube Music must be accessed through the YouTube app on all platforms except iOS and Android where there is a dedicated app.
Cross-device playback (Spotify only)
Spotify outperforms Apple Music and YouTube Music for a seamless user experience, allowing you to control playback from any device signed into your profile via Spotify Connect.
Synced lyrics (Apple Music and Spotify)
All three apps offer the ability to display lyrics, but only Spotify and Apple Music show synced lyrics for the track being played. You’ll see it as a scrolling animation, and tapping the lyrics will take you to that point. On YouTube Music, users can only see the lyrics.
iCloud Music Library (Apple Music only)
If you have a library of songs that you’ve curated over the years, especially before streaming services became mainstream, Apple Music also supports iCloud Music Library. With this feature, you can sync a library of up to 100,000 songs across all Apple devices signed into your account and easily access them even if they’re not available as part of Apple Music.
Apple Music Sing (Apple Music only)
Finally, for users who enjoy going to a karaoke bar, Apple offers a feature called Apple Music Sing, which allows you to enjoy a karaoke-like experience at home using compatible devices. You can turn down the volume of the vocals in a song and then sing along to synced lyrics.
Spotify is the king of discovery, while Apple Music pioneers quality
To summarize this article, when choosing a streaming service you have two choices: a platform that prioritizes audio quality or one that fulfills your desire to discover new music.
If you fall into the first bucket, Apple Music is an ideal choice as the audio files are of significantly better quality and offer spatial audio mixes. Plus, iCloud Music Library lets you bring your collection to the party.
But if you enjoy searching for the next trending song or a track that suits your tastes, Spotify is a clear choice. YouTube Music is a service that falls somewhere in the middle of these two.
Spotify is known for its music recognition algorithm, Apple Music is known for its variety of features and audio quality, and YouTube Music has a large catalog of old and new songs and videos. The three services are compared based on user interface, audio quality, and extra features. Apple Music has a fair lead in audio quality, while Spotify excels in finding new songs and recommendations. YouTube Music makes the music listening experience easier, while Apple Music offers iCloud Music Library and Apple Music Sing. Spotify offers the most intuitive gestures and buttons to add tracks to the queue and show that you like them.