Ready to decide which music streaming service will rock your world? Join us for a showdown between Apple Music and YouTube Music!
Apple Music is one of the top music streaming services today due to its polished design, large song library, excellent playlist curation, and high-quality audio.
However, YouTube Music also comes with its own unique advantages. And what it lacks in high-resolution quality, it makes up for with a music library that includes unofficial releases you can’t find on streaming apps.
Fortunately, choosing between them only requires comparing their features and ranking them according to your needs. To help, we’ll review and compare both platforms so you can decide which is best for you. Read on!
In This Article
Apple’s music streaming app launched in June 2015, as a replacement for iTunes. The service is available in 168 countries and boasts a library of over 100 million songs. It also offers tailored playlists, music videos, and live radio, but no podcasts or audiobooks.
Notably, Apple Music has quickly become a direct competitor to streaming giant Spotify. It’s the second most-used music app worldwide, with a little over 15% of the music streaming market share and 84 million subscribers, per MIDiA Research.
A report by the esteemed financial company J.P. Morgan states that Apple Music will reach 110 million users by 2025.
Meanwhile, YouTube Music is owned by Google subsidiary YouTube. The platform first dipped its toes into music streaming with Music Key in 2014. YouTube Key became YouTube Music, underwent a revamp in 2018, and finally replaced Google Play Music at the end of 2020.
In September 2022, YouTube surpassed 80 million Music and Premium subscribers globally, making it the fourth most-used music streaming platform worldwide.
The service is available in 95 countries and offers a robust library of 100 million tracks, but it’s unclear if that also includes user-generated content like covers and remixes.
Like Apple Music, YouTube Music streams music videos, playlists, live performances, and rare recordings. However, podcasts and audiobooks aren’t available. Google owns a separate service for podcasts, Google Podcasts. On the same note, audiobooks are available for purchase on Google Play.
Premium Plans and Pricing
Price plays a big part when selecting which streaming service to add to your entertainment roster. Here’s a rundown of YouTube Music and Apple Music’s paid plans to see what you can expect price-wise:
|Platform||Free Plan||Individual Premium||Family Plan||Student Plan||Others|
|Apple Music||No||$10.99/month||$16.99/month (up to 6 people)||$5.99/month||Voice $4.99/month|
|YouTube Music||Yes||$9.99/month or $99.99/year||$14.99/month (up to 5 people)||$4.99/month||N/A|
Budget plan offerings
YouTube Music offers a free plan with ads and basic functionality. The good news is that the ads aren’t too bothersome, and you can skip them after a few seconds, similar to how they work on YouTube. Plus, you get unlimited track skips and can play any song you want.
On the other hand, Apple Music doesn’t have a free version, but you can try out the service using a free trial. If you’re on a strict budget, you can get the more affordable Voice Plan, which comes with limited features.
The Voice plan lets you access the entire Apple Music catalog but is designed to work with Siri rather than through the app’s interface. You can manually search for songs in the library, but can’t play them directly. Instead, you need to tell Siri to play them for you.
Moreover, Apple Music’s Voice Plan doesn’t give you access to advanced features like lossless audio.
Premium plan perks
Premium plans from both services share things in common:
- Access to the entire content library
- Ad-free streaming experience
- Ability to download songs and playlists
- Multi-device accessibility
- Recommendations based on your listening taste
- 1-month free trial
Apple Music may be more expensive, but it offers better audio quality with lossless tracks – a feature absent from YouTube Music. This factor alone might make it worth spending an extra monthly dollar to access the service.
If you’re in college, you get a significant discount on both platforms with a Student Plan. Or, you can opt for a Family Plan and share Apple Music or YouTube Music with your loved ones.
Apple Music and YouTube Music also come with no strings attached, so you can cancel your subscription anytime. Plus, both platforms offer a free trial of their Premium Plans, meaning you can test-drive them before committing to a subscription.
Save with a bundle
YouTube Music Premium is free with a YouTube Premium subscription, priced at $11.99/month. It offers an ad-free YouTube experience, offline viewing, and background play. If you’re willing to pay a monthly fee to escape YouTube ads for good, getting access to the music service is a welcome perk.
Likewise, you can bundle multiple Apple subscriptions for a $16.95/month fee with Apple One. This comes with access to six Apple services – Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud+, Apple News+, and Apple Fitness+.
Verdict: Which is more worth it?
While the apps are similarly priced, YouTube Music Premium is slightly cheaper. The service also offers a free plan and enables you to save with an annual subscription. This makes it a great choice for music lovers on a budget.
Despite being more expensive, Apple Music will likely be the go-to platform for someone who prefers Apple devices or is willing to spend extra for a higher-quality audio experience. If you don’t mind its limitations and already rely on Siri by default, the Voice Plan will help you save cash in the long run.
Who Has Better Content?
When it comes to music, “good” is a subjective term. Each person’s taste is unique. What appeals to me – whiny tunes by female singer-songwriters, mainly – may not appeal to you and vice versa.
That said, Apple Music and YouTube Music have content for everyone, with millions of songs and appealing extras. We break it down below:
Amount of music content
As stated in the intro, Apple Music and YouTube Music have vast libraries of over 100 million songs. That’s more music than one can listen to in a lifetime.
From my experience, Apple Music and YouTube Music offer a good mix of trendy songs and indie gems. For instance, you can find Taylor Swift’s entire discography on both platforms while also stumbling upon up-and-coming indie artists like Wu-Lu, Charlotte Day Wilson, and OK Cowgirl.
Playlists are plentiful on both services. There are many choices, from workout music to study music to white noise.
On Apple Music, you can lift weights while listening to Hip-Hop Workout, do cardio on the funky beats featured on Beast Mode Workout, or secure the soundtrack for an hour-long sweat session with a 60-Minute Workout playlist.
Playlists like Deep Focus or Study Beats provide excellent background noise for studying. And if you’re struggling to fall asleep, Rain Sounds, White Noise, or Sleep Sounds will help you relax.
Similarly, YouTube Music offers workout playlists like Sweaty EDM Workout, Heavy Metal Workout, and Workout 60 Minutes. There are also quieter playlists that can boost focus, like Classical for Studying and White Noise Sounds.
The main difference between both is that Apple Music playlists are mainly human-curated. The service employs an in-house editorial team in charge of content and playlist curation, so you can expect to get a lot of interesting playlists with very specific themes, like Astral Escape or Midnight City.
On the other hand, YouTube Music has editor playlists but allows users to publicly share playlists as well. Depending on your taste, this can make a difference.
For example, if you’re feeling cheeky, you can look up “sexy time music” and find a wide array of user-generated playlists on YouTube that will catch your eye, thanks to listeners who share your passion for soulful tunes.
Conversely, on Apple Music, the top result is Adele Essentials. No shade to the queen, but some variety would be welcome.
There are a lot of Apple Music categories (Fitness, Sleep, Pop, Gospel, and so on), but they can’t cover everything. And although you can share Apple Music playlists with your friends once you create a profile and add contacts, user-generated playlists still aren’t widely available on the app. Instead, the focus is on expert curation.
By allowing users to share playlists, YouTube Music has a better chance of catering to listeners with niche tastes.
Besides officially released music, YouTube has a lot of content you won’t find anywhere else, like remixes, unreleased music, mash-ups, covers, and live performances.
These are generally songs available on YouTube but not on streaming platforms. YouTube Music gives you access to all of them by enabling you to play the video as a song.
For example, Dub FX’s cover of Queen’s song Don’t Stop Me Now is on YouTube Music and nowhere to be found on Apple Music. The same goes for Audioslave’s live Like a Stone performance on Broadway and Miranda Cosgrove’s High Maintenance hit.
Additionally, YouTube Music has a lot of music videos. As for exclusive content, you can occasionally watch streams of live performances, most notably Coachella.
Although the service doesn’t offer live radio, you can listen to stations based on a specific artist. If you go to an artist’s page, tapping the Radio button plays the artist’s hits combined with similar songs.
Apple Music may not have unreleased music or covers, but the live radio feature is excellent. You can listen to the platform’s main radio stations – Apple Music 1 (formerly Beats 1), Music Hits, and Music Country. They provide 24/7 streams focusing on new music, popular hits, and country, respectively.
Artists like Lady Gaga or Elton John host their own radio shows on Apple Music, with international and local stations available too. The service also offers music videos that you can watch and purchase. It even launched a music video station available in the US.
Other sections worth checking out on Apple Music include:
- Apple Music Sessions: Features live releases from prolific artists
- Apple Music Live: Spotlights live concerts (you can watch Harry Styles perform Harry’s House in New York!)
- Behind the Songs: Highlights songwriters, producers, engineers, and more
Plus, the platform hosts exclusive content like radio shows celebrating Rihanna’s 2023 Super Bowl performance, the solo recorded works of George Harrison in Dolby Atmos, artist interviews/featurettes, and documentaries.
Verdict: Which is more worth it?
Which service is better in terms of content depends on personal preference. If you’re into mainstream artists, both services deliver. Love live radio? Apple Music is your best bet. However, YouTube has the upper hand when it comes to user-generated playlists and lesser-known covers or remixes.
Another crucial factor to consider when choosing a music streaming platform is audio quality.
YouTube Music offers four levels of audio quality on all platforms, while Apple Music offers three audio quality settings on Wi-Fi and a High Efficiency setting for streaming on mobile data:
|Audio quality setting||Apple Music||YouTube Music|
|High Efficiency||64 kbps to 256 kbps (AAC)||N/A|
|Low||N/A||48 kbps (AAC)|
|Normal||N/A||128 kbps (AAC)|
|High||256 kbps (AAC)||256 kbps (AAC)|
|Always High||N/A||256 kbps (AAC)|
|Lossless||up to 24-bit/48 kHz (ALAC)||N/A|
|Hi-Res Lossless||up to 24-bit/192 kHz (ALAC)||N/A|
Apple Music introduced lossless audio for no additional cost in 2021, a massive draw for audiophiles. However, streaming lossless tracks burn through a lot of data.
YouTube Music may not offer lossless audio, but the High setting boasts the same quality on both services, which should be sufficient for casual listeners. As a side note, YouTube Music’s free plan only offers Low and Normal audio quality.
Can you tell the difference?
I love music, but I’ll be the first to admit that my ears aren’t finely tuned enough to call myself an audiophile.
Still, I noticed an improvement when listening to lossless tracks, mainly because the sound is perceivably louder, richer, and clearer. For some songs, I could even pick up on audio cues and subtleties I’d previously missed!
Otherwise, I couldn’t spot much of a difference playing the same song in Apple Music and YouTube Music while using my Skullcandy Indy Evo earbuds. Granted, each listener is different. What sounds “the same” to me might sound like “an unacceptable level of quality” to someone with a more sensible ear.
That said, another Apple Music feature that may appeal to music fans is Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, which is meant to provide an immersive listening experience. The feature is available on compatible devices, including Android, but your phone has to support Dolby Atmos.
Mine doesn’t, so I tested it using a friend’s iPhone and AirPods Pro. It sounds great, with head tracking letting you feel more like you’re at a live performance. The sound envelops you and comes across as more lifelike and hypnotic.
While Spatial Audio ensures a captivating audio experience, it’s not enough incentive for me to upgrade my hardware. However, the feature is a plus if you already have compatible devices and high-end audio gear.
Regarding song loading times, I experienced virtually no buffering on both platforms. In some cases, lossless tracks on Apple Music took up to 1 second to load, but they played seamlessly most of the time. As a frame of reference, my Internet speed was 54 Mbps on Wi-Fi and 1.5 Mbps on mobile.
Verdict: Which is more worth it?
Apple Music is the clear winner with superior audio quality and extra features like Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos.
However, this also depends on your setup. If you’re mostly a casual music listener using mid-tier headphones or earbuds, YouTube Music is good enough. But if you’ve got a more advanced audio setup, it’s worthwhile investing in Apple Music to get the most out of it.
Discovering new music you like is incredibly rewarding. Let’s see how Apple Music and YouTube Music can help with that.
When you first sign up, the platforms recommend songs popular in your area and chart-topping hits. The more you listen, the more the algorithms understand your taste. The result? Solid custom recommendations on both sides.
Apple Music’s algorithm uses a wide array of factors to recommend music you might like. That list includes analyzing songs you already have in your library, songs you Love or Dislike, tunes you add to playlists, and your listening history.
Users get personalized mixes based on mood and new releases. After only listening for a few hours, Apple Music offered me 25-song Chill, Get Up, and New Music mixes.
Meanwhile, YouTube Music delivered a Supermix of 100 songs I might like, a New Release Mix featuring 30 songs, and a 50-song Discover Mix.
The YouTube Music algorithm is more complex, using the abovementioned factors and additional metrics like playing a song on repeat. Interestingly, skipping a song doesn’t carry weight since this doesn’t always automatically mean a listener dislikes the song.
Based on my experience, both apps did a good job recommending tracks based on my listening history, limited as it was up to that point.
Beyond the algorithm
Want to take things into your own hands? Check out the Browse tab on Apple Music and Explore section on YouTube Music.
You can browse charts like Top 100 Global on Apple Music, with YouTube also offering a selection of top songs and music videos. Genres are easily accessible on both apps, like Classic Rock or Essential Folk.
On the same note, new music is prominently featured on the platforms, and you can even search based on mood. For instance, Apple Music has a Feeling Blue section, while YouTube Music’s Moods include Party and Romance.
Artist pages have a Similar Artist section at the bottom, which further helps you expand your musical horizons. All you need is enough time to explore everything available.
Verdict: Which is more worth it?
Apple Music and YouTube Music have algorithms that learn your music taste and tailor recommendations accordingly. That said, the mixes I got from both were hit-and-miss.
Instead of tailoring recommendations to my taste, they mostly featured songs popular in my geographical area. However, I noticed that the mixes improve the more you listen. If discovery is essential to you, I strongly advise you to tap the Like/Dislike button for songs and albums as often as possible.
Ease of Use
Whether the apps are user-friendly counts, especially if you’re not keen on spending hours figuring out how to add a song to your library. Let’s investigate how the two services stack up:
Apple Music’s interface is polished. On mobile, there is a stationary navigation bar at the bottom of the screen with five sections: Listen Now, Browse, Radio, Library, Playlists, and Search. On the desktop app, Apple Music’s stationary bar is in the left sidebar, and the main player is at the top of the screen.
Once you start listening, the player screen features playback controls (Play/Pause, Previous, Next). You’ll also find a Lyrics button at the bottom left of the screen and a Play Next (Playlist) button at the bottom right. If you tap Play Next, you can access Shuffle, Repeat, and Infinite Play buttons.
Users can tap the More icon (three dots) for additional options like adding a song to the library or a playlist, sharing features, creating song-based stations, and more. You’ll also find Love and Dislike buttons here.
Furthermore, long-pressing a song or album also opens the More menu, so you can add it to a playlist or your library.
Surprisingly, pressing Love doesn’t add the song to your library, as it happens on other music streaming apps. Instead, Apple Music only uses your Loves and Dislikes to improve recommendations. Weird.
Finally, the search function is intuitive. On the results page, you can browse various formats: songs, music videos, albums, radio episodes, and more.
YouTube Music comes across as more user-friendly. It’s similar to YouTube, so you may have an easier time getting used to it.
On mobile, you get Home, Explore, and Library buttons in a navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, with the Search button in the top right, near your profile picture.
On the desktop app, the Home/Explore/Library tabs are at the top, next to the Search button. The search function is intuitive, allowing users to browse between several subcategories when looking at the results.
The main player section features everything you need on the same screen, making navigation quicker. That includes playback controls, Shuffle and Repeat buttons, and Like and Dislike buttons.
At the top of the screen, you can toggle between the song and music video, select the cast icon to connect to another device, or tap the More button for additional options like download and share. At the bottom, there’s an Up Next/Playlist button, a Lyrics button, and a Related button.
YouTube Music is available on PCs, iOS, and Android devices (phones and tablets). You can also cast content to a connected speaker or TV.
In contrast, Apple Music comes with wider and better device compatibility. You can use the app on iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, HomePod, CarPlay), PCs, Android phones and tablets, gaming consoles (PS5, Xbox), Amazon Echo, Roku, Sonos, Google Nest, and smart TVs (Samsung, LG).
Verdict: Which is more worth it?
Both apps look clean and don’t take long to master, but I found YouTube Music easier to use thanks to its simplified player window.
On Apple Music, the fact that you have to press the More button just to be able to tap on Love is incredibly annoying. Moreover, basic tasks like adding a song to your library or shuffling a playlist should be more seamless.
The good news is that I didn’t experience any glitches like unexpected errors or crashes running either app on Android or desktop.
YouTube Music and Apple Music have exciting additional features for music fans, which may be enough to swing the balance one way or the other.
Here’s what you’ll find on both apps:
- Recaps/Replays: Gives you a summary of your most-listened-to artists or songs
- Lyrics: You can see the lyrics to what you’re listening to in real-time
- Play locally stored files: Use the apps to play songs stored on your device
On top of that, Apple Music has a sleep timer, a basic feature strangely missing from YouTube Music.
Apple Music also launched Saylists, playlists of songs aimed to help people with a speech-sound disorder. The idea is to encourage children with SSD to sing along, repeating challenging syllables or words.
Furthermore, the music streaming service offers a Sing feature, which turns songs into karaoke tracks. You can adjust the volume of the vocals and sing along to your favorite tunes.
On the other hand, YouTube Music offers collaborative playlists, which make music discovery more engaging. When creating a playlist, you can let other listeners add songs and videos. This improves your chances of discovering artists you’re not familiar with. Sadly, you’ll miss out on this feature if you use Apple Music.
Verdict: Which is more worth it?
Apple Music has more intriguing features than YouTube Music, making it the winner here. But how much weight this carries depends on whether these extra features are useful or appealing to you. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on your personal preference.
How Much Do Apple Music and YouTube Music Pay Artists?
As fans, there’s a good chance you only want the best for your favorite musicians. Knowing they’re well-compensated might be important to you when choosing a service.
While it’s difficult to calculate exactly how much creators make, average rates can give you a clearer picture of which service is more generous.
|Platform||Pay per stream||Streams to get $1,000|
Generally speaking, streaming services don’t have a set pay-per-stream rate when paying music royalties, so the above numbers are estimates. The rate depends on the listener’s country and location, the pricing in different regions, and the artist’s royalty rate.
Apple Music stated publicly that the average pay-per-stream rate is $0.01. The service pays the same rate to every creator, regardless of label and distributor.
Furthermore, Apple Music claims it doesn’t pay a lower rate in exchange for featuring an artist or song on popular playlists. Lastly, the platform offers artists fun tools to promote content, gain audience insights, and connect with fans.
Meanwhile, YouTube Music rates revolve around $0.008. That’s lower than Apple Music, but artists have more ways to monetize their content on YouTube. They make additional money from music videos, ads, and when their music is featured in user-generated content.
The latter category can be particularly lucrative with the rise of vlogs and short-form videos. Micro-sync royalties are paid whenever a song is synchronized to moving images, so rights-holders can collect royalties or ad revenue generated by other YouTube videos that use their music.
Verdict: Which is more worth it?
From a strict music streaming angle, Apple Music pays more. The service also pays every creator the same rate, which is appealing to independent and underground artists. They won’t get a lower per-stream rate just because they have less name recognition than some of their peers.
That said, YouTube offers additional monetization options that can make a huge difference. Just think of how many more users are on YouTube than on music streaming apps.
Which Should You Go For?
|Apple Music||YouTube Music|
|Great content library||Great content library|
|Excellent audio quality||Good audio quality|
|Live radio||User-generated content|
|Excellent playlist curation||More playlist variety|
|Exclusive content||User-friendly interface|
|Top-notch features||Free plan available|
Bottom line: Apple Music and YouTube Music are terrific streaming services. Their official content libraries are large, and both have features that make playing music a breeze.
Apple Music will appeal to audiophiles and users who prefer the Apple ecosystem. Meanwhile, YouTube Music is a better pick for music fans who like to collaborate on playlists and listen to unreleased songs, covers, or remixes not widely available on other music streaming apps.
If you’re on a budget, both apps also provide great money-saving options with YouTube Music’s free plan and Apple Music’s Voice plan.
By now, we’re confident that you’ve figured out whether Apple Music or YouTube Music is a better fit for you.
Hopefully, you know where each excels and how they align with what you most look for in a music service. If you’re still unsure, both platforms come with month-long free trials. You can test them for free to determine which comes out on top.
Have you settled on the service you’re more eager to try? Let us know in the comments! We’re dying to know.