Why Google Play Music Is Better than Spotify Premium
I used Spotify Premium for a few years but switched to Google Play Music (formerly Google Play Music All Access) when I got an Android phone. The main reason I switched was because of Google's generous family plan. I thought I'd miss Spotify but now I feel that Google Play Music is a better music streaming service.
For an individual account, Spotify Premium and Google Play Music are equal at $9.99. Although with Google you get more value for your money because YouTube Red comes with Google Music. With YouTube Red you can download 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. Spotify now offers a family plan with 6 accounts for $15 as well. If you would like to have YouTube Red, Google is a better deal since it comes with each. One downside of Google's family plan is that the initial setup has to be done on an Android phone.
Spotify Premium beats Google in a couple of areas. Spotify offers a student plan that costs $5 a month. Google doesn't have a student plan. Spotify also has a free version that comes with restrictions and lower quality audio. Google does have a free version but you can only listen to stations. It's similar to Pandora with limited skips. You can't make playlists of your own like you can on the free Spotify version.
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Number of Songs
Both Spotify Premium and Google Play provide more than 30 million songs. When transferring my daughter's playlist from Spotify to Google, I came across two songs that weren't available on Google. Spotify seems to be a little better when it comes to song offerings. If you want a song that's not available, you can buy it and upload it to your Google account.
Spotify Premium only offers explicit versions of songs. Google offers both clean and explicit versions of many songs making it a more child-friendly streaming service.
Both Spotify Premium and Google Play Music allow you to upload songs you own. This is great if there are songs you want to listen to that aren't available for streaming. Google is the clear winner in this area for me.
Spotify allows you to upload songs from your computer to your account. The problem is the songs are stored on your computer not in a cloud. When I bought a new iPod, I no longer had the laptop I had originally uploaded my files from. The only way I could get those songs onto Spotify again was to re-rip my CDs and transfer mp3s from an external drive. It was doable but took a while.
Google 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. All of your playlists remain intact.
Downloading for Offline Listening
Downloads for offline listening are easy on both services but Google Play Music is the winner because it's more generous when it comes to the number of devices you can use. Spotify Premium allows downloads on up to three devices. Google allows downloads on up to 5 devices and up to 10 devices can be authorized for your account.
One thing I thought I'd miss about Spotify Premium is their Discover Weekly feature. This is a playlist based on the listener's personal taste that's made available every Monday. I discovered many great artists and songs through this playlist. But I've actually discovered more new music and artists through Google Play Music.
Spotify's Discover Weekly could be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes I'd discover 4 or 5 great songs. But other weeks I'd go through all 30 songs and find nothing that interested me. Google doesn't have a feature like Discover Weekly but it does have stations based on your music taste. Under Listen Now Google offers "I'm feeling lucky radio." The more you use Google Music the more accurate the "I'm feeling lucky" suggestions become. When you give a song a thumbs up, it's automatically added to an auto playlist called "thumbs up." This is great to have if there are songs you're unsure about on first listen and want to hear again before moving them to a playlist.
Ease of Use
This is a tie for me. Both Spotify Premium and Google Play Music are well organized and easy to use. Spotify has a few extra features that I like though. It's easy to connect your Spotify account to Last FM and you can control gapless playback. Both services allow playlist sharing.