LT has direct experience with both streaming services over multiple years.
I used Spotify Premium for a few years but then switched to Google Play Music (formerly Google Play Music All Access). The main reason I switched was because of Google's generous family plan. Now things have changed again. Google Play Music has been replaced by YouTube Music and there's been a significant jump in price. This article used to be titled "Why Google Play Music Is Better Than Spotify Premium." I've changed the title because I don't think the benefits of switching are as great as they used to be. Still, some Spotify users may still want to make a switch. This is my revised assessment of both services.
Once upon a time, Google Play Music was the clear winner. For an individual account, Spotify Premium and Google Play Music were equal at $9.99. But Google was better value for money because it came with YouTube Red (now YouTube Premium). With YouTube Premium, you can download any videos for offline viewing and run videos with your mobile device turned off. This is great if you're listening to a video discussion that you don't need to watch. It's also ad-free. I originally switched to Google Play Music because their family plan offered 6 accounts for $15 while Spotify's only offered two.
Things have changed a lot in terms of price. Spotify has four premium plans. Individual is still $9.99. Two accounts are $12.99. A family plan is $14.99, while a student plan is $4.99. That student plan comes with Hulu and Showtime.
An individual YouTube Premium/Music plan costs $11.99 a month. That's a better deal than Spotify because you get more for your money.
However, the YouTube Premium/Music family plan costs $17.99, while a student plan costs $6.99. Whether that's a good deal depends on how much you value being able to download YouTube videos, listen to them with a mobile device turned off, and get an ad-free experience.
Number of Songs
Both Spotify Premium and YouTube Music provide more than 30 million songs. I have found some songs that are available on Spotify that aren't available on YouTube Music. This includes a couple of songs I had in playlists before the switch from Google Play Music that aren't available in YouTube Music.
Both Spotify Premium and YouTube Music have the option to add songs you own. This is great if there are songs you want to listen to that aren't available for streaming. YouTube Music is the clear winner because it uses the cloud while Spotify uses a syncing process.
With Spotify, songs are stored on your computer, not in the cloud. That's why they are referred to as Local Files. To add Local Files to a mobile device, you sync from your computer. If you get a new mobile device, you have to go through the syncing process again. If you have more than one device, you have to sync each one.
YouTube Music, on the other hand, stores your songs on a cloud drive. It doesn't matter if you get a new mobile device. All the songs you uploaded are still available. Your playlists remain intact. This is the process to upload to YouTube Music.
There are two ways to upload your music. On a computer:
- Drag your file(s) to any surface on music.youtube.com.
- Visit music.youtube.com and click on your profile picture Upload music.
Downloading for Offline Listening
Downloads for offline listening are easy on both services, but YouTube Music is the winner because it's more generous when it comes to the number of devices you can use. With Spotify Premium, "you can download music and podcasts for offline listening on up to 5 devices at a time." Using YouTube Music, "you can use the offline features of your paid membership on up to 10 mobile devices at a time."
One thing I thought I'd miss about Spotify Premium is Discover Weekly, a playlist based on the listener's personal taste. I discovered many great artists and songs through this playlist. But I've actually discovered more new music and artists through YouTube Music, and its predecessor Google Play Music. Spotify's Discover Weekly could be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes I'd discover four or five great songs. But other weeks, I'd go through all 30 songs and find nothing that interested me. YouTube doesn't have a feature like Discover Weekly but it does have an Explore section and Your Mix, which offers personalized music. I think both services are about the same when it comes to music discovery.
Ease of Use
This is a tie for me. Both Spotify Premium and YouTube Music are well organized and easy to use. Both services allow playlist sharing.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2016 LT Wright
Miles Gonzalez on July 09, 2019:
I have tried both Spotify music and Google Play music. honestly I like Spotify music better than Google Play music. Here is a detailed comparison of the difference between the two streaming music services.
John Volvich on March 19, 2018:
I would recommend to use MusConv tool.
Phids on February 15, 2018:
I had a Pandora membership for years, and it was very convenient and cheap, but I wanted to move away from it at least for a while because the song selection is limited and somewhat repetitive. I considered both Spotify and Google Play Music. I had tried Spotify Premium trials in the past, but signed up for the GPM Black Friday trial for four months. My take:
- I prefer the native Spotify interface to that of GPM. Cleaner and more modern look.
- GPM is a better deal overall, especially if you ever watch Youtube videos. It removes the commercials from Youtube, which is a pretty nice thing.
- Both are pretty equal in track selection.
- Both allow for Last.fm scrobbling (the article said only Spotify did), but for desktop scrobbling with GPM I had to download a separate desktop application.
- I miss the Spotify Discover Weekly playlist. There is a similar playlist for GPM called "New Release Radio", but I tried it for the first time tonight and the songs weren't that good. Spotify sometimes had great selections that I added to other playlists of mine.
Despite Spotify's strengths, I think I'll stick with GPM going forward.
John Obrain on February 15, 2018:
Hey guys, if ever you want to transfer your music from spotify to google playlists or vice versa try MusConv tool with just a few step and your playlist will be with you where ever you go :)
dbdq on January 02, 2018:
Spotify also has a critical problem, actually a sneaky fine print:
Spotify only allows even Premium users to keep a maximum of only 3333 offline songs in any device. I didn't know until I had reached my limit and it was a major reason I moved to Google Music. Can't be happier now.
chris on November 26, 2017:
I switched from Spotify to Google Music that i prefer. What i like from Google: Clear and withe interface, there're images next to the titles, not only text like Spotify.It swithes from normal and high quality automaticaly when you go from wi-fi to LTE. You can move the playlist titles where you want them to be.
Hyhjkk on November 16, 2017:
I don't see any way how YouTube music is in any way better than Spotify, Spotify certainly had more advantages but the only plus i saw from Google music was two services that you don't really use if you already have Google music to begin with and then the audio only version still uses way more data than Spotify
Bangelica on October 16, 2017:
If ever you decide to transfer your music playlist from one library to another like spotify to google music or vice versa. I would recommend the musconv tool - bangelica
Thor Weberson on March 08, 2017:
Both services are awesome. I used Spotify from when it became available in the U.S. for about 4 years. Then I used Google Play Music for about a year (I was able to get an extended free-trial period for it then an extended trial for YouTube Red, which, as the other mentioned, subscribing to one gives access to the other.... COOL!). I am now using Napster (Formerly "Rhapsody") which is also a great service.
I suppose Google wins because of the family plan alone (something I wouldn't currently use), barring that - Google Play Music wins because it not only plays that is stored locally on whatever device your using, it allows you to upload 50,000 (YES, THAT's FIFTY-THOUSAND!!! Bumped-up from the original 20k that google allowed) of your own-songs into the cloud - streamable from wherever you can access your account!!!
YouTube Red being included is a DEFINITE BONUS!!! It's a whole music-service in itself - PLUS, the infinite-whatever else that's on YouTube!! And, just like any other subscription service, it allows you to make playlists. On Android, it allows YouTube to play in the background while you do other tasks.
Another cool feature, is Play Music will link what you're currently listening to a YouTube video (when available)!
Google's selection meets or beats anyone's, Play Music smacks-down the competition pretty soundly!
LT Wright (author) from California on December 30, 2016:
In the two years I used Spotify, I never came across clean versions of albums, which was frustrating. I haven't used Spotify in over a year, so it's possible they're offering it now.
Brandon Jones on December 13, 2016:
Spotify premium offers both clean and explicit versions of songs as far as I can tell (See Vince Staples - Prima Donna, there is a clean version of that album).
Anthony Goodley from Sheridan, WY on April 16, 2016:
I've been using Google Play All Access since it was in Beta. Because of this I only pay about $8.50 a month. Overall I'm very happy with the service. In the beginning it had several things that really annoyed me, but they have since fixed all but one of those. That one is there is no way to download an individual song for offline use besides adding it to either a Playlist or downloading the whole album.
As long as I remember to connect my Nexus 7 tablet to the internet once per month my music always works offline. Occasionally Google gives me free songs and albums. Also special deals on songs and albums.
While I've never used Spotify Premium and can't comment on that service I can't see my self using any other service anytime soon.