Apple Music vs. YouTube Music: Which is best for you?

Youtube Music Lifestyle
Youtube Music Lifestyle (Image credit: Chris Wedel / Android Central)

YouTube Music

YouTube Music Icon

If there were a most improved award for music streaming services, YouTube Music would win. The service has vastly improved over the years and adds new features to keep up with competitors. It might not be as attractive as Spotify, but it's still a top contender worth considering.

YouTube Music

Highly improved

Free tier with ads available
Offline listening
Radio stations
Compatible with Google Assistant
Wear OS app for smartwatch users
Screen must be on for free tier
No voice plan (yet)

Apple Music

Apple Music App Icon

Apple Music takes personalization and custom curation to a whole new level. Users will likely be surprised by how on-point their algorithm is. This service also offers plenty of original content and exclusives that justify the price. With that said, you don't have any free tier option.

Apple Music

King of iOS

Offline listening
Radio stations
Apple Music Voice Plan coming soon
Library of over 90 million songs
Seamless experience for iOS users
No free tier available
No Wear OS app

Apple Music vs. YouTube Music: Battle of the streaming services

Determining the best music streaming services for your needs is a matter of personal preference. Long gone are the days where your biggest concern was choosing your favorite iPod or MP3 player and manually transferring songs to your selected device. These days, there are several music-streaming services that simplify your listening experience, including Apple Music and YouTube Music.

Considering that pricing for both services is quite similar, other factors will determine your decision. Most importantly, are you strongly committed to either iOS or Android? Some people dabble in both, while others prefer to stay loyal to one or the other. If you're an iOS loyalist, you'll likely gravitate toward Apple Music. On the other hand, diehard Android fans will probably prefer YouTube Music. The latter offers a free subscription tier with ads, which isn't an offering you'll find on Apple Music.

Apple Music is full of possibilities

Apple Music lifestyle

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

Let's start with the basics. Unfortunately, Apple Music doesn't offer any sort of free plan with ads, which is disappointing for users who aren't ready to commit to yet another paid monthly subscription. With that said, you can opt for either an individual, family, or student plan. The benefits of each plan vary a bit, but the essentials are all there.

The extra perks associated with a family plan may justify the higher price tag for some users. For example, there's a personal music library and personalized music recommendations for each family member. An Apple Music family plan offers unlimited access for up to six users. You think that different music tastes might be a problem, but Apple does a good job personalizing each family member's Apple Music.

Regardless of which subscription you choose, you'll get access to endless 24/7 radio stations, high-quality music videos, and personalized playlists. Whether you're listening on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV, Apple Music is readily available and easy to access.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Apple MusicYouTube Music
Pricing$9.99 individual, $14.99 family$9.99 individual, $14.99 family
Student pricing$4.99$4.99
Free tier✔️ (with ads)
Music videos✔️✔️
Offline listening✔️✔️
Radio Stations✔️✔️
Wear OS app✔️

While using a music streaming service might seem pretty straightforward, Apple Music offers features that users may not even think to use. For example, you can easily purchase a song you just heard and enjoyed. If you want to interact with friends, you can view and share playlists. You can also follow friends using Apple Music and see what they're listening to lately. It's also very simple to add songs from Apple Music to your iCloud Music Library.

Another popular feature is using Siri to control your listening experience. Apple decided to take this experience even further with the new Apple Music Voice Plan. Apple recently announced the new subscription tier, which is specifically designed around the power of Siri.

Apple Music Voice Plan gives users access to the entire catalog through Siri for only $4.99 per month.

Apple Music Voice Plan gives users access to the entire catalog through Siri for only $4.99 per month. The company says that by using only your voice, Apple Music will be accessible to even more people around the world. This new plan was scheduled to launch in the fall of this year, but it's still listed as "coming soon" on Apple's site.

Signing up will be easier than ever, too. Users will be able to subscribe to the Apple Music Voice Plan through Siri by saying, "Hey Siri, start my Apple Music Voice trial." Of course, you can also sign up through the Apple Music app if you prefer. Once you've subscribed, you can request your music be played across all of your Siri-enabled devices. This includes HomePod mini, AirPods, iPhone, or any other Apple device. You can also use the service when using CarPlay.

As you might've guessed, the main drawback of Apple Music is that there's no free or ad-supported music tier available. If you're an avid music fan, you know that most other services offer this option. Apple does offer the discounted student plan, and the new Apple Music Voice plan is a step in the right direction, but none of these are free.

YouTube Music is a well-rounded streaming experience

YouTube Music on a Pixel 3 XL

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

Are you a frequent YouTube user? Maybe you're the host of a popular channel, or you're a fan who watches videos regularly. Either way, YouTube users already familiar with the interface and enjoy it may prefer YouTube Music over Apple Music. After all, if this is a service you're already using, why not add YouTube Music to it?

Let's take a moment to remember Google Play Music. It had a good run, but it was eventually replaced by YouTube Music. Considering the existing popularity of YouTube, it makes sense that Google would want to brand its new music streaming venture with the same name.

If you consent to ads, you can access YouTube Music for free.

The library consists of millions of songs, music videos, and radio stations. If you consent to ads, you can access YouTube Music for free. The main drawback is that your screen must be on to use the free subscription tier. As you can imagine, this is pretty inconvenient and will kill your battery pretty quickly.

If you opt for YouTube Music Premium, you'll have the ability to download songs, albums, and playlists directly to your phone. This allows for easy offline listening when you don't have an active internet connection available. You can listen to all your favorites without using data or connecting to Wi-Fi.

In addition to the premium individual plan, YouTube Music is also available as a student plan and family plan. As you may have noticed, this is identical to Apple Music's offerings, with the exception of the free tier option with ads. Users on a budget or those who aren't willing to commit to a particular service yet will appreciate the free option. While YouTube Music doesn't currently offer a plan comparable to the Apple Music Voice Plan, it would not be surprising to see something similar roll out in the near future.

Fossil Gen 6 Youtube Music App

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

If you're an Android smartwatch user, YouTube Music might just be even more appealing to you. It's not uncommon for smartwatches to offer music streaming and storage options, after all. For example, both the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic offer the YouTube Music app.

You'll also be pleased to learn that it's available on the new Fossil Gen 6 models. Fortunately, it seems Google recognizes this is important to Wear OS users. In fact, YouTube Music is now available on more Wear OS watches. So if this is a feature you want on your Android smartwatch, YouTube Music might be a great option for you.

Like Apple Music, YouTube Music also offers a wide range of official songs and albums from the artist's record label while also offering official music videos, live concert videos, fan covers, remixes, and more. Given the giant pool of content, it's not surprising that there are also millions of songs that aren't in YouTube Music's official library or any other music streaming service library, for that matter.

Apple Music vs. YouTube Music: Which is best for you?

While Android users don't have to choose YouTube Music and iOS users don't have to choose Apple Music, this might be one of the main factors that help you determine your music streaming service of choice. Many users are looking for the most seamless experience possible. For iOS users, Apple Music is likely to be the preferred service. While there's no free tier available, the new Apple Music Voice Plan might be enough to sway some users with its lower price tag.

If you're a well-established Android user, it makes a lot of sense to choose YouTube Music for many reasons. While some users may have had trouble dealing with Google Play Music's departure, Youtube Music has done a great job filling those shoes. If you're a wearable enthusiast, you'll be glad to know that the YouTube Music app is an option on some Wear OS watches as well. The free tier may have ads, but it's better than no music streaming service at all. YouTube Music is the way to go for Android users and those who aren't married to Apple.

Courtney Lynch

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.