YouTube Music is Google’s latest attempt at making a streaming music service, and it’s actually a pretty good alternative to Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. YouTube Music actually debuted way back in 2015, meaning it is now around seven years old. However, it was missing a lot of features when it first launched, and then later relaunched in 2018 with many more features and saw the end of Google Play Music.
YouTube is already one of the biggest names in media, so YouTube Music is likely going to be one of the biggest streaming services out there. So here’s everything you need to know about YouTube Music.
What is YouTube Music?
YouTube Music is Google’s second attempt at making a streaming service. Back in 2011, Google announced Google Play Music and offered streaming music for just $7.99 per month at first. Fast-forward to 2015 when Google debuted YouTube Music, and essentially had two different streaming music services. Google Play Music and YouTube Music. Though the writing was on the wall for Google Play Music.
Google then relaunched YouTube Music in 2018 along with bundling it with YouTube Premium for $12.99 per month. Though you can also still pay for it separately for $9.99/month. However, adding ad-free YouTube to the Music service means that it’s much more valuable than its competitors.
YouTube Music boasts over 50 million songs in its catalog. Which is among the most of the biggest streaming music services.
How much does it cost?
YouTube Music ranges from free to $17 per month, depending on the plan you get.
YouTube Music by itself is available free with ads running every three to six songs, and you don’t get access to a lot of other features that the service has. If you do opt to pay, it’s $5 per month for students, $10 per month for everyone else and $15 per month for families (up to 5 users).
That’s pretty much the same price as its competitors, like Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music and others. So it’s not a bad price, but not an incredibly good price either.
Is YouTube Premium included?
You can get YouTube Premium included with Music – though you can’t get Premium without Music. So if you get the full YouTube Premium package, it’s going to cost you $7 per month for a student, $12 per month for everyone else and $17 per month for families.
This is the plan that we recommend if you’re going to go with YouTube Music. As you’re paying $2 more per month and getting background playback, downloads and ad-free YouTube. Which given the amount of ads on YouTube, having ad-free YouTube is definitely worth the extra $2 per month.
YouTube Music free vs Premium tiers
Much like Spotify, YouTube Music does have a free and a paid tier of its music service. The free tier of YouTube Music isn’t quite the same as what Spotify offers. For example, you get more than just ads. You also cannot play music in the background, at least on the Android app. The easy way around this is to use the desktop web version, as you can still play it in the background as long as the tab is open.
With the free version, you also do not get any recommendations, or the ability to stream new music. So you’re basically limited to the playlists that YouTube Music has already created. That might be enough for some, but likely not for everyone.
What features does YouTube Music have?
YouTube Music doesn’t really have many features that you wouldn’t find elsewhere with other streaming services. But YouTube Music does do a really good job with discovery, almost as good as Spotify, to be quite honest.
If you sign up for YouTube Music Premium, you’re going to get ad-free listening. So you won’t hear any ads on your music, or between your music. You’ll also get background playback, which you don’t get on the free version.
This is one of those features that you’d expect with a paid music service, however, so this is not a big surprise. But definitely good to see, since we know how much YouTube and Google loves ads.
One feature that Spotify has and does really well with is discovery. Whether that’s prompting you to add more songs to your playlists, mixing playlists just for you, or even surfacing other songs that you might like, it just does a really good job. YouTube Music has greatly improved over the years. Discovery is very good and makes it easy to populate a new playlist, with songs that you like and played quite a bit.
The Supermix or sometimes called “My Mixtape” has about 100 songs that spans across your tastes in music, and it is continually updating. When you first start using YouTube Music, you’ll notice it updating daily or even more often. But as you get into using YouTube Music and using it for quite some time, it may not change as often, as YouTube Music knows what kind of music you like and listen to.
You can download your Supermix too – in fact that is the only playlist I have downloaded and usually use it in the car, as I don’t need to worry about choosing a specific song. YouTube Music allows you to limit how many songs are downloaded too, so it does not take up all of your phone’s storage. Which is super smart.
YouTube Music also has other mixes for you, including different My Mixes, and a Discover Mix that has new music for you to discover. This is a playlist that YouTube Music thinks has music you’ll love.
Where is YouTube Music available?
As of early 2022, YouTube Music is available in over 95 countries. These include:
- American Samoa
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Cayman Islands
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- French Guyana
- French Polynesia
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Papua New Guinea
- Puerto Rico
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- U.S. Virgin Islands
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
How does it compare to the Competition?
If you’re looking to switch to YouTube Music from a competitor like Spotify or Apple Music, you may be wondering how it stacks up to the competition, well, it stacks up pretty well. Though Spotify is still the best option for most people, due to the amount of features it has – remember Spotify is a music streaming company first, and doesn’t have its hand in many other areas like Google and Apple do.
One thing that YouTube Music does lack though, is Podcasts being included in the platform. Spotify has podcasts included, making it a one-stop shop for all of your audio needs. However, there is Google Podcasts, but that would require another app to be used. Of course, Spotify does also have some exclusive podcasts like Joe Rogan and Michelle Obama.
YouTube Music also lacks in audio quality, where it maxes out at 256kbps, and Spotify’s 70 million song library can hit 320kbps. Most people won’t notice a difference with that, but if you do use the right equipment, you can tell a small difference in the audio quality there. Though Neither is as good as Apple Music’s Spatial Audio. Or Amazon Music’s HD music selection – which are included in their prices.
YouTube Music has less songs than the competition, but still has a ton. Apple Music has 90 million, Spotify has 70 million and Amazon Music has 75 million. Though at those numbers, there’s not a huge difference.
If you want ad-free YouTube, then YouTube Music is going to be the right choice for you. Unless you’re okay with spending $12 per month for ad-free YouTube and then paying for another music subscription.
Should I sign up for YouTube Music?
If you’re already a big YouTube user, then it is a no-brainer. And while the competitors out there are quite good, the fact that you can get ad-free YouTube Premium with YouTube Music makes it a much more valuable subscription than Spotify or Apple Music right now.
You can sign up for YouTube Music by clicking here, and also check out the features that are available.