Apple Music vs YouTube Music

December 8, 2023

Choosing a streaming service can feel hit-and-miss, but if you're trying to decide betwen YouTube Music and Apple Music, here is what you need to know.

Apple Music

Apple Music is amongst the music streaming services that have managed to reach over 100 million songs but launched with just 30 million in June 2015. Meaning in its relatively short lifespan, it has amassed one of the largest music catalogs around.

Those familiar with Apple products are more likely to automatically join Apple Music - even more so when they offer some free months when you buy a new product. You get six months free; after that, you’ll need to pay for a subscription. Just before your free trial ends, it is a great time to move from Apple Music to another streaming service if you're not enjoying the experience.

YouTube Music

Not everyone knows that YouTube Music and YouTube are different platforms because so many people consume music through YouTube directly through music videos and playlists. YouTube Music was once Google Play Music, but the rebrand and takeover were completed at the end of 2020. Just like Apple Music, YouTube Music hit 100 million tracks this year.

YouTube Music is the name they have settled on after being YouTube Music Key for a while. Google Play Music was launched in 2001, and YouTube Music was launched in 2018, but they merged a few years ago.

With the basic information out of the way, it’s time to get into a deep-drive comparison of YouTube Music and Apple Music.

Platform compatibility of Apple Music and YouTube Music

Anyone who uses a voice assistant in the home knows how much faster it is to give instructions and have your favorite music playing in a matter of seconds. However, not all voice assistants work with all music platforms, and not all devices are compatible either.

With the rate at which technology improves, your music streaming service must be compatible with the devices that you have or want.

Youtube Music device compatibility

  • Smartphones and tablets: Android 7.0 or higher, iOS 11.0 or higher
  • Computers: Chrome OS 79 or higher, iOS
  • Smart speakers and displays: Google Home, Amazon Echo, Sonos
  • Streaming devices: Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku
  • Wearables: Wear OS 2.0 or higher.
  • Cars: Android Auto, Apple CarPlay

You can also hook YouTube Music up to your Android Clock and both Google Maps and Waze app.


Apple Music device compatibility

  • Apple devices: iOS 10.0 or later
  • Android devices: Android 5.0 or later
  • PC: Windows and macOS
  • Smart speakers: Amazon Echo, Google Home, Sonos & HomePod
  • Wearables: Apple Watch
  • Streaming devices: Chromecast, Roku, and Fire TV
  • Gaming consoles: PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S

Both YouTube Music and Apple Music have a wide range of compatibility, but generally speaking, Apple Music offers more options and a better, more seamless experience.

Not to mention that for those who already use a couple of Apple products, Apple Music just makes better sense. This could come down to Android vs Apple - the products you use will dictate which is better for you.


Who has the best subscription options between Apple Music and YouTube Music?

The best subscription for you will likely come down to your budget and the quality of the music that you want. Apple Music is more than a little famous for not having a free plan - and it might be one of its biggest downfalls.

That said, when you buy an Apple product, they offer six months of Apple Music for free, or you can use one of their other free trial offers.

On the other hand, YouTube Music has a free version, and while it is ad-supported, if you don’t mind the ads, you can listen to the music you enjoy for free - forever.

Apple Music subscription plans:

  • $10.99 per month for the individual plan
  • $16.99 per month for the Family plan
  • $5.99 a month for the Student plan

The Apple Music Student Plan comes with Apple TV+ for free, and all paid plans come with Spatial Audio. The Family Plan allows for an additional five people, so six total, with personal music libraries for every member.

YouTube Music subscription plans:

  • $10.99 a month for an Individual or $109.99 for 12 months.
  • $16.99 per month for the Family plan.
  • $5.49 for the Student subscription.

You can try them for free before committing. The Family Plan lets you add five household members so everyone can enjoy YouTube Music. If you're unsure which one is right for you, check out this YouTube subscription comparison.

You’ll need to use their verification system to qualify for the Student Plan on either service.

Bundles on both platforms work out to be better value by a long shot.

YouTube Music and Apple Music bundle options

Both YouTube Music and Apple Music have bundles, so if you want to have one or more of their services, it makes sense to bundle them up. Bundles of services mean you’ll get more for your money. So, let’s take a look at the different bundle options:

YouTube Premium is a subscription that bundles YouTube Music and YouTube together, so you get ad-free watching on YouTube and YouTube Music. As well as background and offline listening, you get the YouTube Kids app ad-free, too. YouTube Premium is $13.99 per month for the Individual Plan or $129.99 for 12 months, $22.99 per month for Family and $7.99 for the Student Plan.


Apple One has a more comprehensive range products in their bundles.

Individual Apple One bundle is $19.95 per month, and you get iCloud+ 50Gb storage, TV+, Music, and Arcade—a saving of $9 per month.

Family Apple One Bundle (shared with five people): $25.95 per month is iCloud+ 200GB storage, tv+, Music and Arcade. A saving of $11 per month.

Premier Apple One bundle is (shared with five people) $37.95 per month and includes iCloud+ 2TB, tv+. Music, Arcade, Fitness+, and News+. A saving of $29 per month.


Who has better audio quality between Apple Music and YouTube Music?

At the moment, it is a race to the top regarding the audio quality that the different music streaming services are putting out. Yet, even with all of the improvements that the services have made and the access listeners have to high-quality listening devices - there can be a notable difference between them.

So, who has what when it comes to the audio quality?

Apple Music: What they say:

”We developed our own implementation of AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) that delivers audio that’s virtually indistinguishable from the original studio recording. We also introduced Apple Digital Masters to deliver the highest-quality recordings. And now, we’re offering Apple Music subscribers the additional option to access our entire catalog encoded using lossless audio compression at no extra cost.”

Interestingly enough, if your headphones don’t have the AAC Bluetooth Codec, you won’t be getting the top audio quality. This is why Apple recommends Beats, AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, or the 3rd Gen AirPods. Remember that Bluetooth connections aren’t lossless - so try it out with wired headphones.

Anything you have downloaded already might not have lossless, so it is a good idea to delete and redownload any music you have on your playlists before the introduction of Lossless.

How can you listen to Lossless with Apple Music? Make sure that your iPhone or iPad has the latest iOS update, and use a wired connection or built-in speakers. You can also listen to lossless on your HomePod.

YouTube Music has a high-quality listening experience for those with a paid subscription. To get the most from the quality on offer, you will want to select Always High - 256 kbps AAC and OPUS, so even if your internet connection is sketchy, you’ll get the best option.

The big issue here? Almost all other music streaming services offer lossless, like Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited, and Deezer.

If push came to shove, and you had to choose based on audio quality alone, Apple Music wins hands down. For those who aren’t too fussy about quality, YouTube Music is fine, but keep in mind that Google stated that they had no intention of improving the sound quality.

The only area where YouTube Music comes out top is if you have some data restrictions and the lower bitrate (lower data consumption) is better for you.


Who has better content between YouTube Music and Apple Music?

One of the most important things to people who love music is how much choice they have. YouTube Music and Apple Music have enormous libraries, and while they are both in the 100 million tracks club, there are a couple of differences that might help you decide which one you should subscribe to.

YouTube Music

The one thing that might give YouTube Music the edge with its content is that it has a more social element to it. Users are encouraged to like, subscribe, and share. Aside from the social element, you will find plenty of content you won’t find anywhere else, like live performances and exclusive remixes - made by producers who use the platform.

Apple Music

Apple Music, being part of the Apple entertainment segment, offers subscribers a lot for their subscription. There are plenty of shows hosted by the artists - giving fans a bigger insight and more of a connection. Not only that but the interviews and documentaries are of extremely high quality and are exclusive to the platform.

Since Apple Music launched, it has also hosted some of the best exclusive content around:

  • Drake's Views From the 6 in 2016,
  • Taylor Swift's 1989 in 2024,
  • and Pharrell Williams's Freedom in 2015.

For Taylor, that relationship with Apple has paid off because she was announced as the No. 1 most-streamed artist on the platform.


Who has better music discovery and personalization between Apple Music and YouTube Music?

Discovery and personalization are some of streaming services' biggest and most important features. Using their algorithms, they understand the music you like and when you like to listen to it, create playlists, and show you new music you might enjoy. But who is doing the best job, YouTube Music or Apple Music?

YouTube Music

YouTube Music has a notably less smooth approach to music discovery and personalization than Apple Music. To really get the best offerings, you’ll need to engage more with what you listen to, including likes and dislikes. So it can take a little longer to get new music recommendations that you really like - unless you put the work in.

YouTube Music has announced that they will be resigning some areas of their app with new features to make it more enjoyable. The Samples tab is a new way to discover new music; you only need to swipe until you find something you like.


Apple Music

One of the first things you’ll do when you join Apple Music is spend some time tapping artists and genres that you like, which gives them a head start on offering music recommendations that you enjoy—then based on your listening, when, who, and how often, you will enjoy many playlists that are made for you. It’s not just the music recommendations you get; you’ll find radio station recommendations too.


Who has the best user experience between Apple Music and YouTube Music?

It is one thing to offer 100 million tracks; it is another to have that built into something that people enjoy using. Like any software or service, it should be easy to navigate for any age or ability of the user. So, who has the best user interface?

Apple Music

Apple is known for its intuitive and simple design - it is built into its brand. Apple Music doesn’t stray from these principles. The playback controls are easy to see and use, you can Love or Dislike songs if you want to, and the navigation bar is always easy to find. The general control of the app is high for the user, and the search function is simple to use, too.

Apple Music also has a neat gradient background that matches the artwork for whatever you are listening to. And in general, it feels and looks less cluttered.

YouTube Music

The YouTube Music UI on the mobile app can look like a lot, and for those who like the Light theme (aka a lighter background), you won’t get it here. It’s a darker interface, which is fine for many, but this could be a deal breaker if you don’t like it.

What are the unique features of Apple Music and YouTube Music?

It can start to feel like all the streaming services are the same, but they all have some features that set them apart.

Apple Music

The first one that deserves some discussion is the possibility of lossless audio. With wired headphones, you can enjoy the highest possible quality. Something that YouTube Music just doesn't have. The Hand-off features mean you can switch from playing on your headphones to another device in the home. - all you’ll do is put your iPhone (if you have one) next to a HomePod.

Depending on your device, you can set up a Sleep Time for Apple Music so that you can drift off to your favorite relaxation tracks.

YouTube Music

YouTube Music has started rolling out an AI experience within the app. The experience takes users through various options and builds a completely unique artwork for their playlists. Another great feature for people who like to share is the ability to build collaborative playlists. But what sets YouTube Music apart from the competition is what it is best known for as the YouTube brand - music videos.

Who pays artists better, YouTube Music or Apple Music?

When paying a subscription, you should know where your money is going. And, most of the time, you’d like to think that most of it goes to the artists.

YouTube Music

YouTube has long been known for having multiple ways that people can monetize their content, which in some way soothes people when they hear that YouTube Music pays one of the lowest royalty rates to artists. So artists need to make the most of all of the options to make money on YouTube - including ads on music videos.

Apple Music

Apple Music states on its website that it has a $0.01, and there are a couple of factors that helped it come up with that number. If you care how your money is distributed to artists and producers, then understanding the Apple Music Royalties Framework is essential.

Some recent announcements have stated that artists offer higher quality. Spatial Audio, they are likely to get paid more - so it is worth noting if royalties are a consideration for where you listen to your music.

Who is better, Apple Music or YouTube Music?

A tough question, but one that you can answer with just a few factors:

  • How do you listen to music? Desktop? Mobile? Wireless headphones?
  • How much do you have to spend on your subscription?
  • Do you have Apple devices?
  • Do you enjoy watching music videos as you listen to music?

If audio quality is the only thing that matters, Apple Music is the right choice. For those who want to watch videos and don’t mind a clunky user interface, YouTube Music will work fine. Apple Music is also home to some of the biggest album exclusives - and that is something that will likely continue.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do is enjoy the free trials, test the interface and the music selection for yourself, and then make a firm decision.

And, for those who are already tied to streaming services but want to switch without leaving your playlists, albums, and songs behind, the FreeYourMusic app transfers all your music fuss-free.

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