What is the best music streaming service for you? That’s the right question to ask as a music lover because it’s not about what is “the best” streaming service, period. It really depends what you want out of a streaming music provider. Just like music itself, your preference is largely subjective based on how you like to listen to your music.
As a music lover myself who has tried a few different music streaming platforms, including living within a family who has different preferences, here is my very simple break down of what I see as the three main music steaming services. And one of them may surprise you.
– Apple Music
– YouTube Music. What? YouTube? Yep! YouTube Music, not to be confused with their main video site.
I’ve tried all three as a paying member. Apple Music doesn’t have a free version but YouTube Music and Spotify do with limited features. For Spotify, the big options you’ll miss with the free version is the ability to skip songs and download songs. You’ll also have to put up with ads and lower quality sound.
Each platform has their benefits. In my review of each platform, I won’t get specific about pricing because each country has it’s price point. YouTube Music costs around $5 extra a month but there is a reason for that. Read on…
Spotify is great for music movers who like playlists. Their software is intuitive so it fashions playlists according to your likes, but there also are plenty of popular playlists that have been created and remain consistent. Those who like playlists will like that you can enter a favorite artist or song name and a playlist will appear consisting of that artist, as well as similar music from other artists mixed in. You can also enter a a very niche terms for a genre of music and Spotify will show multiple playlist options that fit that genre.
Spotify is free but you’ll have to pay to unlock these key features: The ability to skip a song, the option to download music, removal of both visual and audio ad interruptions, and a a higher quality music stream.
Whether free or paying for the service, Spotify is not the best for those who want full albums of artists. There are plenty of albums for sure, but some artists restrict certain songs and not all artists feature all of their albums. As well, when searching for popular songs from the past, you may find they are not listed on Spottily. For full albums and virtually no restrictions on music, especially from past decades, you’ll need to go to Apple Music.
I love full albums. Put them in chronological order and that’s music heaven to me. If you read the details about Spotify above you’ve probably guessed that while I was a Spotify subscriber for a short time, it wasn’t long before I signed up for Apple Music. Very simply, pretty much any song produced within the last 60 years is on Apple music. Individual songs and full albums in chronological order. Yep, it’s worth repeating.
I’ve also found that Apple Music has the least restrictions. If fact, I can’t think of an artist that has restricted anything. So, could we say zero restrictions on musically content? For example, the Eagles (Don Henley mainly) are known to block all their music and unofficial videos on YouTube (the main channel) as well as some songs on Spotify and YouTube Music. But there are no issues on Apple Music. This is probably because Apple was the first to venture into this realm of music streaming and downloading with iTunes. The only thing I dislike about Apple Music is how they feature Essential Albums. It’s very arbitrary and very inaccurate in my opinion.
Apple Music is also laid out well for each artist profile… by top songs, albums, music videos and playlists (Essential tracks, essential videos, Next Steps for lesser know but classic songs, Deep Cuts and artists that an artist may have been influenced by, and finally, music that the artist has influenced. There are also playlists created by users but they are not as solid as Spotify’s playlists in general. Apple Music also has a variety of genre specific radio stations. These are more like playlists but fairly basic and not finely tuned to sub genres.
One big downside about Apple Music is that if you cancel your subscription, you will lose all your downloads. However, any playlists you create will remain intact so they will be available if you re-subscribe. The playlists will be visible, but songs will not be accessible.
So basically, I am a big fan of Apple Music, but no longer a subscriber because I switched to YouTube Music just last month. Huh? Read on…
This all brings us to YouTube Music, which is relatively new, and not to be confused with YouTube’s main video website that has been around since 2005. I am now a subscriber of YouTube Music but still think Apple is better. And for those who like playlists and can put up with some restrictions from music artists, Spotify is the way to go. So why am I a YouTube Music subscriber? I actually stumbled into it.
I was first a huge fan of YouTube.com because I love watching user created videos, as well as a music videos and commentaries on music, etc. I like the shared experience of commenting on music and videos. A short while ago, I discovered that by signing up for YouTube Premium, I could minimize the YouTube app while watching or just listening to a video. It continues to play in the background. This means that when someone texts you or you want to go on Instagram or check your email while watching YouTube, you don’t have to interrupt the play to look at other stuff on your phone. I wasn’t even thinking about the fact that YouTube Premium also eliminated ads.
Then one day I realized that with YouTube Premium, YouTube Music is also included. This is a separate app that only features high quality streamed music, as well as music videos that are only the official ones. No user created content exists except for playlists. You can also select a feature to only show the album art instead the video, except for when you are in the video section.
YouTube Music has a close to complete list of artist songs and full albums with just a few restrictions by those bands like the Eagles that restrict a particular songs. It’s not as laid out as cleanly as Apple Music and does not have the intuitive playlists like Spotify, but I’ve already stated the reasons why I subscribe to YouTube Music over the other two. Mainly, these reasons are; No ads on both YouTube’s main site/app and on YouTube Music, background play for videos when apps are minimized, full albums and song catalogue from the official artists on YouTube Music, and you can also turn on audio-only mode to listen to music without loading the video.
Music Streaming Review ReCap
So let’s recap. Selecting the perfect streaming music service for you is all about personal preference. Here are the main options to think about.
Spotify: Has a free version. Upgrade to hear higher quality music, remove all ads, skip ahead to the next song and download songs. Playlists are intuitive and there many more playlist options in general, including finely tuned niche genres. Downsides: Some songs are not available and Spotify is not the best for finding and listening to full albums. It’s also not as clean or as organized as Apple Music.
Apple Music: Once subscribed, it’s like having access to a record collection of every single album on the planet from the last 60 years. Music is well organized within clearly defined artist profiles, including playlists that explore their top songs, not so well known songs and deeper cuts. Albums are all in chronological order and there are virtually no albums or song that are restricted. Downsides: Does not have a free version. If you subscriber as a paying member, you will lose all your downloads and not have access to playlists you’ve created until you sign up again. No intuitive playlists created according to your musical preferences. Radio station playlists are weak and very general in nature.
YouTube Music: Has a free version with similar lack of options like Spotify. As a music streaming service alone, it has similar full albums like Apple Music. It is also less cluttered than Spotify . The big plus is that there are no ads on both the YouTube Music site/app and YouTube main website. You can also minimize videos without interruption on both apps. Downsides: Not as organized as Apple Music and does not provide as many playlist options as Spotify. YouTube Premium costs about $5 more a month. You are overpaying for music alone if you are not concerned about eliminating ads on YouTube.com, as well as having videos continue uninterrupted when you minimize both the YouTube app and the YouTube Music app.
Hey music lovers, check out our list of The Best Selling Debut Albums of All Time!