We compare the features, cost and catalogue of the two streaming services to help you decide where to spend your subscription money.

Developed by Google’s video sharing site in 2015, YouTube Music’s library consists of licensed songs from labels and distributors, as well as music videos on YouTube. Initially running alongside Google Play Music, last year Google put all of their focus into YouTube Music and discontinued Google Play Music, giving users tools to transition their library. YouTube Music is available ad-supported for free, while a YouTube Music Premium subscription will unlock ad-free playback, background listening and more.

In the US, for individuals, Spotify comes in two flavours: Spotify Free and Spotify Premium. Spotify Free is the audio company’s ad-supported music streaming model, while for a monthly subscription Spotify Premium gives listeners all the features they need.

For this comparison we’ll be looking at YouTube Music Premium and Spotify Premium as these most closely represent the features users are after from a typical music streaming service today.


Both streaming services offer the same basic features such as ad-free listening, offline and on-demand playback, letting you listen to any song, anywhere, with unlimited skips.

One of the unique features seen on YouTube Music is the ability to upload your own music. By simply dragging audio files over the YouTube Music window, you can upload up to 100,000 songs to the cloud and stream the songs from any device. This feature is available to free and Premium subscribers. Even free members will get no ads, background listening and offline playback.

For audio quality, YouTube Music’s maximum audio quality is 256 kbps AAC, which is comparable to Spotify Premium’s maximum at 320 kbps MP3. Spotify have announced a HiFi streaming tier, however we are still waiting for the feature to launch, and have no word yet on the maximum bitrate available or potential price increase above Premium memberships. With the competition for hi-fi music streaming from streaming services such as Amazon Music and Apple Music, it’s likely Spotify will drop any initial plans they had to include a price increase for the feature. YouTube Music remain one of the biggest players in music streaming without a hi-fi streaming option.


Spotify current have over 70 million songs available for streaming, while YouTube Music had over 60 million as of August 2020. Alongside licensed music, YouTube Music also gives you access to all of the musical content on the video platform, such as remixes, covers and mixes that aren’t available on other music streaming services. With the ability to upload your own tracks and access YouTube’s immense library of music videos, users won’t be limited by YouTube’s catalogue.


For individual memberships in the US, Spotify Premium and YouTube Music Premium are both $9.99 per month. For $11.99, YouTube Premium members get YouTube Music bundled in at no addition cost.

Both services offer various discounts for families, students and bundles with other subscription services.


Existing YouTube Premium members should explore YouTube Music before subscribing to an addition music streaming service. The HiFi update coming to Spotify makes this a great option for lossless music lovers, while YouTube Music’s ability to upload music to the cloud is a great option for those with an extensive collection of purchased digital music. Equally, if you listen to a lot of songs on YouTube that aren’t available through typical music streaming services, YouTube Music is the better option for niche listeners.

If you’re a music artist, you’re in luck. RouteNote can help you get your music onto either of these music streaming services and many more for free. Just sign up to RouteNote, upload your tracks, select the stores to distribute to and we’ll do the rest.