Music streaming is the most convenient way for people to listen to their favorite songs even though the sound quality takes a hit. But with so many music streaming services out there which one is the best and which one should you choose? This blog will focus on Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music to help you narrow down your search and find the best music streaming service for your needs.
Music Quality & Quantity
Music Streaming services do take a hit when it comes to music quality, but if you are not an audiophile pinpointing the difference is very difficult. So, for a regular person, the entire music library sounds great. Spotify with its premium subscription provides an extreme quality preset that goes up to 320 kbps, while YouTube Music only goes up to 256kbps, and Apple Music provides lossless audio quality which gives the listeners the same quality as when they listen through a CD.
Each platform has a huge music library. Apple Music is said to have more than 75 million songs, Spotify has over 70 million songs, and YouTube music has more than 50 million official songs, but YouTube Music has support for unofficial music as well making its catalog much more extensive.
YouTube has the biggest music library as people post songs unofficially on the platform as well, and this library also makes its way to YouTube Music with mashups, remixes, and so much more allowing the service to offer a larger music library. But it is not all gold this unofficial content could be taken down due to copyright issues.
Music Library is one thing the availability of the application is another and here is where Spotify takes the crown with the service being available on every platform i.e., Android, iOS, Gaming Consoles, Windows, Web, etc.
Apple Music is available on Android, iOS, macOS, and the Web, but to put it simply if you are using an Android device do not subscribe to Apple Music as the UI is far inferior when compared to iOS and the on the Web I was always facing errors that the song I am trying to stream is not available in my country; even though I can play the same on my phone.
YouTube music is available on iOS, Android, and the Web. The application works seamlessly across all devices and has a unified UI.
Discovering Music & Recommendations
The main goal of a streaming service is recommending the user to new artists, songs, and genres to listen to according to their music history; and all these streaming services offer the same with the help of playlists, and song suggestions.
For me, Spotify was the streaming service that provided the best recommendations to me, Apple Music & YouTube Music were somewhere in the middle. But no matter the streaming service; the applications will eventually learn its user's tastes and recommend songs accordingly.
Each application has its own way of interaction and by far the one that I found the best was Spotify; it has a simple UI that makes it easy to navigate, finding a new song, or even adding it to your playlist/now playing even sharing a song to social media is very seamless.
But that isn't to say that Apple Music and YouTube music have bad UI. Apple Music has a simple UI for which Apple is known, adding music to the queue is easy but not as easy as it is on Spotify. Also, I was facing this weird bug that made the application skip a song from my playlist, and I was unable to fix it. The bug persisted even when I tried to play that song back using the media controls.
YouTube Music is still pretty new and does miss out on many features compared to Apple Music and Spotify. And the UI overall could be improved like the "Now Playing" screen is very basic when compared to the other two (Some members of my family got the new UI, but I still haven't received the update), the service still does not allow the user to share the music they are listening to social media stories. Google still needs to work on the UI as right now it is in a bare-bones state.
YouTube Music and Spotify offer a free ad-supported version of their applications. But the free version is not all gold especially in the case of YouTube Music which does not allow background playback until and unless the user pays for a premium subscription. Apple Music on the other hand does not offer any free version.
All these platform's premium subscriptions start from $9.99/month for a single user with a family plan that goes for $14.99.Spotify and Apple Music also provide a student subscription plan that goes for around $4.99/month. YouTube Music does not provide a student plan but offers YouTube Premium for $11.99/month which includes ad-free video playback on the YouTube app, YouTube Originals, playing video and music in the background; and with only $2/month extra it is a very enticing deal.
Apple Music provides the best audio quality out of the three, but that is the case only when the music is being streamed through a wired connection. But as far as I know, most people are using Bluetooth headsets to stream music. Thus, limiting Apple Music to transmit around 256kbps.
YouTube music is the best due to these unofficial songs, but it does come with its drawback mainly that it is the slowest updating music streaming platform which is still lacking a few features. The unofficial songs may be taken down due to copyright issues. YouTube Music is also the slowest updating application out of the three.
Spotify has a simple-to-navigate UI with an easy sharing feature and provided me with the best music recommendations. The application also allows the user to stream podcasts. The application is also available on almost all platforms which makes switching between devices seamless. Spotify is also working on a lossless audio mode, but that would cost additional money and currently has no release date. So, I will continue to use Spotify for the time being.