The Music Industry's Newest Streaming Service: YouTube Music
By: Nora McGonigle
After the immense success of Spotify and Apple Music, it seems like many companies are trying their luck with creating a streaming service. Some of the most popular ones today are Spotify, which has dominated the market with over 70 million paying subscribers, Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon Music. The newest service to join the streaming world is YouTube Music. I decided to download the free 90-day trial and share my thoughts in this blog.
I currently use Spotify Premium and have become so accustomed to it, I haven't thought about switching to another service, or even trying another one. I have all of my playlists for every occasion saved, and my Discovery Weekly algorithm is nearly perfect. However, after seeing the positive reviews for YouTube Music/Premium, I decided to give it a try.
Spotify and YouTube Music are mostly similar in price. Spotify offers a free ad-supported version, or offers Spotify Premium for $9.99 per month, with no ads, the option for listening offline, and includes a Hulu subscription. One perk is Spotify offers a $4.99 student discount which includes the Hulu subscription. YouTube Music offers three options. They also have a free version with ads, however you can't lock your screen or move away from the "Now Playing" page without the music stopping. The second option is YouTube Music: $9.99 per month with ad-free streaming music. The last option is YouTube Music Premium which is $11.99 per month and includes all the benefits of streaming, along with a subscription to YouTube Red which includes ad-free YouTube videos, the ability to listen to videos in the background, and access to YouTube Red original content.
The main difference in content between Spotify and YouTube Music is the video content. You can watch live performances, music videos, fan covers, remixes, etc. all in your app. This has a major advantage over Spotify because this provides a larger music library for YouTube. For example, Garth Brooks does not have his music released on Spotify. Sometimes, your party just isn't complete without a 'Friends in Low Places' singalong. YouTube Music has over 4 hours of video content using his songs that you can watch, however I feel like many of the fan-created videos could be taken down for copyright infringement. Another feature I found helpful was YouTube Music's search engine. Using Spotify, you have to search for the exact song or artist you're looking for. With Apple Music, you can search by lyrics or by a description. For example, I used the search term "Yodel Boy Song" to find 'Famous' by Mason Ramsey.
Both platforms offer the option to download music for offline listening. Both services also include App-curated playlists based on genres, moods, activities, etc.
Right when I made my YouTube Music account, they started recommending music to me based on my interests even though I hadn't even done anything with the app yet. YouTube Music keeps track of your watch history on YouTube as well as your Google searches. So each artist who I had recently watched a music video of or searched for their tour dates were included in my recommendations. They also create a "Mixtape" for you generating music that they think you will like. I did not enjoy this feature as much because it listed music that I've already listened into instead of recommending new music I may like.
It's going to be very hard for someone to beat Spotify's Discover Weekly algorithm. Every Monday I listen to my newly curated playlist and find many songs and artists that I never knew existed. Very rarely will they include a song that I do not like.
I believe which streaming service is "better" is based on personal preference. If you are a big YouTube user and watch a lot of videos, YouTube Music may be the right service for you. However, if you're like me, and have been using Spotify for years, it may be a lot of work to transfer over your playlists and say goodbye to your Discovery Weekly and Hulu. Personally, I will keep using Spotify because I have no reason to switch and I love my student discount and Hulu subscription! I do believe that YouTube Music may give Spotify a run for their money, but think that Spotify's loyal fanbase won't be quick to switch over.