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    • Not too long ago I started a conversation about non-Google apps and services we use. Spotify was on my list and I said "I haven't explored YouTube Music and to be honest, I don't really have any interest to". Well, things have changed since then, and I've actually been using YouTube Music (YTM) exclusively for just over three weeks now, comparing it to the reigning music streaming champion to see how these two services compare. I've been sharing my thoughts on Twitter as I usually do, and now that my comparison is over I'm consolidating my thoughts here on Cake.

      Let me just get it out there from the get go - Spotify is the better music streaming service. It's quite obvious and nobody can argue otherwise. It's been around for a long time, and Spotify as a company just focuses on one thing, music streaming. This has allowed the company to focus on making an incredible service, while Google has its fingers in so many pies that it often lacks focus, which leads to many services being terminated once Google loses interest. YTM has been around for 4 years now, so it does lag behind Spotify by 9 years, but even so there are so many basic functions that you'd expect YTM to have that it just, doesn't. It's not integrated with Google Maps the way Spotify is, which is dumb considering how Google own's both YTM and Maps. Furthermore, it doesn't even work with the Google Assistant properly either, which is stupid as well. YTM doesn't have multi-device sync like Spotify does, you can't change songs by swiping left or right in YTM, and my sister told me that YTM doesn't have a sleep timer, which is useful for people who listen to music as they fall asleep. Then there's the obvious advantage of being around for more than a decade - Spotify's custom playlists are so numerous and varied it just puts YTM to shame. I'm sure there are many more features that Spotify has which YTM lacks, but from my limited testing I'm already confident enough to say that Spotify is the much better music streaming service. So that should be it, right? Just use Spotify, forget about YTM. Well, not exactly.

      For what YTM lacks in brawn (which Spotify has in abundance), it makes up for with some brains. In just two days of using YTM I was impressed enough by the music recommendations to conclude that its algorithms were better than Spotify's at suggesting music I like. Even my friend who listens to music much more that I do said YTM was better. Before YTM was launched in Malaysia she used to complain that Spotify's recommendations were rubbish, and after using YTM for a few days she was impressed by the algorithms. All you need to do is choose one song to listen to, and YTM will instantly create a queue of songs that you both know and like, and songs that you don't know but will probably like. It works great when you're in a certain mood and choose a song to listen to then just let YTM choose the next songs for you. This smart behaviour extends to offline music as well, as YTM has a "smart downloads" feature which automatically downloads a selection of music for you every night based on your tastes, eliminating the need for you to manually download music on your own. Music discovery is great on YTM as well, with recommendations for new music directly on the home page, whereas Spotify just shows you playlists of music you already know. Last but not least, having "YouTube" in the name should make it obvious that you can watch music videos, live performances, and lyric videos in YTM, which you can't in Spotify.

      So where does that leave us? In my opinion, this is a battle of brains vs brawn. While YTM does lack a plethora of features, the smart features and exceptional algorithms make up for it by providing what is in my opinion, a more enjoyable music streaming experience. Spotify may have a sheer avalanche of custom playlists for example, but YTM suggests songs based on your taste, location, and time of day rather than rely on custom playlists which someone else made. What good are playlists and features if you don't really like the songs that are recommended to you? In the short time that I've used YTM I've already been introduced to new songs which I like and reintroduced to old songs that I like but forgot about. On Spotify it's much more difficult to find music I like.

      Ultimately, I'd conclude that while Spotify is the better music streaming service, YTM provides the better music streaming experience. Since both cost the same anyway, it'll be up to you to decide which is more important for you. Having said that, being bundled together with YouTube Premium does tilt the "value for money" argument slightly in YTM's favour. I'll be sticking with YTM moving forward, but what about you? Have you tried out both? Which do you prefer and why?

    • Finally, a review that makes me feel sane. I have deep-ended on Apple and Amazon music lately, trying to find an alternative to YouTube Music, but there’s just nothing like it for discovering music, which is the #1 thing for me.

      I was a YTM subscriber for 3 years but lost the account because I foolishly used my work email for it and Google wouldn’t let me transfer it to my personal account, even though that was the recovery email and I personally paid for it. That and concerns over Google surveillance caused me to spend way too many hours evaluating services like Spotify.

      But Google must have an overwhelming advantage with the data it collects through YouTube, Chrome, and its amazing AI. So I’m back to YouTube Music.

      Like you I love the way it creates offline music automatically and it’s almost always great.

      I also love how it mixes in covers from unknown amateur musicians that can’t be found on other music streaming services; they are only on YouTube. They are some of my favorites, amazingly.

      Maybe their AI is particularly good with me because I use YouTube so much and I’m constantly liking things?

    • I would echo the opinion about youtube being best in terms of offering adaptive suggestions that hit the right spot with me by either being interesting pieces I haven't listened to in a long time, or unknown to me, and I generally like or even love them. I do not think their algorithm is based solely on likes, because I do not actually use their 'like' on each video I like simply because most times it's playing in the background while I may be doing something else. But when I really hear or see something that pops out, I take the effort to 'like' it and even add it perhaps to a list. They perhaps track when I skip over some songs and that helps too.

      With that said, Spotify is better at audio quality having actual consistency in bit rates, over youtube's user uploaded content. This perhaps does not affect those who actually pay for youtube music service (I do not) so I could be wrong.. Also am not sure how good youtube is in mobile mode when driving or riding, for some reason I have had more luck using Spotify in those occasions when on the move. Although my phone does not seem to like "off line mode" for Spotify (i.e. play cached pre downloaded media), and I have to be in a data coverage area else the music stream drops.

      Before Spotify I was using Napster for a very long time, who in fact had even better sound quality but was not better with other aspects; that eventually pushed me over to Spotify.

    • I don’t get the saying that YTM is better than Spotify at music recommendations. It’s kinda “cheating” in my opinion. YTM offline mix tape is basically a list of music videos that I’ve played countless times on YouTube. Barely any new songs.

      Spotify serves me very well for introducing new songs. I listen to “discover weekly” every week. It is an excellent playlist which is a good mix of new recent songs, and songs you may like. I typically add 5-10 new songs that I’ve never hear before every week from this playlist alone.

      If there’s a good song, just start a radio from it and there’s an endless list of similar songs.

      Overall, my point is I just don’t feel the YTM algorithm is better. It just has a better starting point since it has your YouTube history and history from other google products. But if you use Spotify long enough, create many playlist and listen to many radio station etc, Spotify can be equally good once their recommendation system AI knows u well enough.

      I still plan to keep YTM for the ad free YouTube experience and background playback. The only benefit of YTM for me is the larger library, especially older and less well known songs. I notice some songs that aren’t on Spotify but are on YTM but not the other way round.

    • Maybe their AI is particularly good with me because I use YouTube so much and I’m constantly liking things?

      I'm sure Google pulls in data from everywhere they can, but it was reassuring for me to see that liking songs in YTM does in fact help improve your personal recommendations.

      I assume the same works in Spotify, but it seems to work better in YTM for me.

    • I did use Spotify the way you mentioned though. Been a paid subscriber for more than three years, I create my own playlists, follow a bunch of custom playlists too, but when I listen to Discover Weekly or Release Radar, most of the songs just don't appeal to me.

      It's true that YTM has a larger pool of data to pull from, but that shouldn't really matter. If Google has the tools at its disposal to make YTM algorithms better, why not use them?

    • I use Google Play Music for all my streaming listening, and dread the day Google will give it the axe in favour of YTM (and that day is gonna come, possibly soon). Play Music has a way better app (and web interface, and podcasts) and the music selection was also much better (last time I checked). Hopefully, YTM will get up to par feature-wise before they shut down Play Music. An option to transfer the library would also be very nice.

    • That's interesting. I don't think I knew about Google Play Music or if I did it fell off my radar for some reason. I installed it and used it this afternoon. The interface is like butter but I feel like I'm starting over building up a music library.

    • Pandora recently added several different options for fine tuning the discovery process on individual stations: see pic below.

      It’s taking me awhile to figure out the difference between “Discovery” and “Deep Cuts”. For the 80’s hair band White Lion, Discovery seems to play more heavy metal and bands that are one hit wonders. Deep cuts plays more side B songs from Journey and the like.

      I wonder what Discovery would do with Frank Sinatra. Bossa nova?

    • Have you received your Spotify 2019 Most Frequent Playlist yet? Does Google offer a summary of your years listening too?

      I've only been on Spot for a couple months, so I'm not as much a noobie as my playlist might suggest. 😎

    • I've received mine too, it's quite a highlight of using Spotify actually. #SpotifyWrapped is trending on Twitter as everyone is sharing their own wrap-ups.

      Unfortunately, Google offers no such thing in YTM, which is another feature it lacks compared to Spotify, and its users aren't oblivious to this omission.

    • This thread seems to have revolvoed around YTM and Google Play, Spotify, and a little bit of Apple Music, but very little has been said - good or bad - about Amazon Music

      Anyone here use Amazon Music?

      I do have one real annoyance with Apple Music now, and I wonder if I'm the only one - I used to utilize the search tool ( the spyglass button ) on Apple iTunes a lot to find obscure artists or songs that were never going to be high on the hit lists - But now I cannot find that search button in the iTunes store any longer - Apple just wants to keep prodding me to use Apple Music instead I think, and I do not want to do that at this time

      Any suggestions of other search engines for lesser known music?

    • I have an Amazon Music subscription. I did it because I have Alexa in the kitchen and I like to just tell Alexa to play _____. The thing is, it’s only $3.99/month if you only listen on Echo devices, but the catalog is 50 million songs, same as Spotify. Alexa has really good voice-activated search, and I find myself searching by lyrics all the time. There are convenient commands like repeat.

      I have a pair of the new Echo Buds that I listened to while in the gym yesterday. I bought them because they’re less expensive than the AirPods I keep losing, they do sound isolation, and they have Alexa, which I prefer over Siri. So they offer another tie-in to Amazon Music.

      If you want to also listen on apps, it’s $7.99/month if you’re a Prime member. I haven’t found anything special the apps have that Spotify doesn’t. They have a higher priced plan for higher bitrate music if you’re an audiophile with good sound playback, but I’m not.

    • Any suggestions of other search engines for lesser known music?

      What type of music are you looking for? If it’s new music, you may want to consider skipping the quest for the perfect algorithm and going old school by reading album reviews.

    • I went to Amazon all excited about your Echo ears buds with Bose noise reduction and Alexa - I found them on Amazon for $129.00 - Are those the ones you are describing??

      I was all excited, until I read the reviews. Now I don't place a great deal of reliance on reviews on Amazon, take them with a grain of salt and all that, but when the majority of the reviewers are very negative about either the sound quality, or the reliability of Alexa and the software connections and control features, I do pay attention. There were some few positive reviews, but they were a minority, which I found disturbing.

      So I thought I would check with you again @Chris before ponying up the money. Comments??

      Perhaps one reason I react this way, is that I have previously purchased an Amazon Bluetooth receiver to connect my phone to my old legacy stero system, and found it worked for a brief while before marching on into the land of dead gear, unuseable, etc. While AudioEngine's Bluetooth receiver ( purchased on Amazon but its own brand to replace the defunct Amazon receiver ) ) has worked flawlessly and superbly - sounds better, works every time, and continues to work month after month... Generally I think highly of Amazon.....

    • I had an initially negative view of them but lately my experience has been pretty good. I’m going to write a review in a day or two when I test them out more. You might want to wait.

    • Yep, saw that. :-(

      Tried transferring my data over to YT Music last night - no dice, apparently not available to me yet. Had a go at YT Music app and it seems decent enough, much better than the last time I had a look. We'll see abut the music selection when migration becomes available, hopefully that got fixed in the meantime too. Already switched over to Google Podcasts from Play Music.