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?