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I canceled Spotify and used YouTube Music for a month — here's why I'm not going back

YouTube Music on a Pixel 4 XL
YouTube Music on a Pixel 4 XL (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

When Google launched the big YouTube Music revamp in 2018, there was a lot of excitement that the company was eager to take on the likes of Spotify and Apple Music with full force. What we actually got was a half-baked service that required over a year of updates to catch-up to its competitors — leaving a bad taste and first impression in a lot of people's mouths along the way.

I dabbled a little with YouTube Music during its early days for work purposes, but after all of my assigned articles were completed, I turned my back on it and continued to use Spotify as I've been doing for years. Fast forward to about a month ago, and I felt it was time for a change. I've loved having Spotify as my streaming service and have virtually zero complaints with it, but in an endless quest to save money each month, it became an expense I found hard to justify.

My parents and I share different subscriptions that we use. I pay for the Disney Plus (opens in new tab) bundle, they pay for a Google Play Music family plan we've had for ages, and it works out great. My wife and I have used that Google Play Music subscription (which includes YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium) for watching YouTube ad-free, but up until recently, I ignored the inclusion of YouTube Music due to my allegiance to Spotify and all of the grievances my colleagues have aired about it.

I was effectively spending $120/year for a service I already had access to.

Here's the thing, though. With Spotify, I'm paying $120 every year to get music streaming — something I already have access to with that Google Play Music / YouTube subscription. From a budgeting point of view, that doesn't make any sense. So, I decided to cancel my Spotify Premium plan and exclusively use YouTube Music for a full month. To be perfectly honest, it's been way better than I was expecting.

YouTube Music has been well-deserving of the criticism it's gotten over the last few months. It didn't get gapless playback until late last year, albums and playlists couldn't be sorted until this past August, and it's handling of offline downloads used to be a disaster. All of that made me anxious to rely on it as my streamer of choice, but as Ara pointed out last month, most of YouTube Music's major bugs/issues have been ironed out.

I'm a pretty casual music listener. I like having tunes playing throughout the day while I work, and I tend to stick with the artists I've come to love over the years (while venturing out to find a new one every now and then). With Spotify, 90% of the time I would throw on one of my Daily Mixes and just let that play. Spotify's been learning my taste and preferences for a solid few years, so the Daily Mixes are a sure-fire way to find music I know I'll enjoy.

I was disappointed to see that none of my Google Play Music history from way back when was carried over to YouTube Music, so a lot of this month has been a process of digging up artists and songs I enjoy, tapping the Like button, and letting YouTube Music get a good understanding of the kind of stuff I listen to. Overall, it's done a pretty solid job.

YouTube Music has learned a lot about my music tastes in a very short amount of time.

Your Mix is my default way to listen to music. It's an endless stream of songs you've liked, or YouTube Music thinks you'll be interested in, and I've been quite happy with it. The picks tend to be spot-on, and as you make your way through the playlist, more and more tracks are endlessly added to keep you listening all-day long. It tended to be a bit repetitive during my first couple of weeks, but as I've gone about liking songs, it's gotten better and better.

Speaking of liked songs, I appreciate that liking a song doesn't automatically add it to your library. This is something Spotify does, and I always found it incredibly annoying as it would clutter up my library with songs I liked but didn't necessarily want to save for endless listening.

Liking a song in YouTube Music helps the algorithm get smarter and adds them to an automatically created "Liked songs" playlist, but they don't clutter the albums or artists' sections in your library. Compared to how Spotify handles this, I vastly prefer YouTube Music in this regard.

YouTube Music on a Pixel 4 XL

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Continuing with the positives, I love how clean and simplistic the YouTube Music app is for both mobile and web. The dark theme looks gorgeous, all of the settings are easily accessible, and it's been perfectly responsive on Android, iOS, and with the desktop site on my iMac. Also, as silly as it sounds, I really dig the custom YouTube Sans font. What can I say — I'm a sucker for good fonts.

This hasn't been a perfect experience, however, and there are some quirks with YouTube Music that have definitely stuck out to me. Most notably, YouTube Music's library can be...weird.

Source: Joe Maring / Android CentralTwo artist pages for the same person, because why not?

I discovered a song called "Cradles" in a playlist I was listening to one day, really liked it, and decided to search the artist (Sub Urban) in the app. When I did, I found two different artist pages for them. One has two of Sub Urban's older singles, while the other just has their latest one — but also shows Cradles in the Videos category but not under the Singles one.

I thought this was maybe an issue with Sub Urban having two different YouTube channels, but a quick search on the YouTube app reveals just one channel. What gives?

Here's another example. I started listening to Flora Cash last year, and they created a song (Born In The Slumber) for the Death Stranding soundtrack. The song is available on YouTube Music, but only under the artist of "Death Stranding: Timefall." If you go to Flora Cash's artist page, it's nowhere to be found.

Lastly, YouTube Music makes weird decisions on which albums to pull certain songs from. Flora Cash has another great song called "You're Somebody Else," but if it comes up in my Your Mix or I search for it in the app, it appears on a NOW That's What I Call Music album rather than Flora Cash's own one.

Canceling Spotify Premium

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

These things aren't deal-breakers, but as you run across them over and over again on any given day, they're reminders that YouTube Music still has work left to do before it's as polished as its many competitors.

My first month with YouTube Music has me excited and hopeful about its future.

And you know what? I'm perfectly fine putting up with some annoyances like that if it means I get to keep an extra $120 in my pocket every year. YouTube Music still isn't perfect and lacks the beauty that is Spotify Connect, but it's nowhere near as bad as people had led me to believe.

YouTube Music is a perfectly competent streamer, and the YouTube Premium bundle still remains as one of the best values in the digital landscape. If you're doing what I used to do and have YouTube Premium while also paying for Spotify (or any other streaming service), I urge you to at least give YouTube Music a shot. It's a perfectly enjoyable experience, and you'll save some cash at the same time. What's not to like?

Today, YouTube Music is where it should have been 18 months ago

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

43 Comments
  • I agree for all the same reasons. It's just a better service all around. More bang for your buck.
  • Nope, still not moving from GPM to YTM until Google migrates my carefully curated playlists. Until then l’m sticking with GPM.
  • Hell yes X1000
  • You should trying out some of the home backed solutions out there. Not in a “SWITCH” now kinda way but a, “wow a person in there basement did what a billion $ company didnt” kinda way.
  • won't touch anything music streaming service from scroogle. thanks. it's either amazon music or spotify for me ❤️
  • Might as well put up that Android phone too since it's also "scroogle" paranoid ass. Thought this scroogle Bs was left in the 2010s
  • I actually added Spotify because Google STILL won't let me use Google Play Music and YouTube at the same time. God forbid I want to keep music playing in the background while checking a DIY video. I also can't play music in the car while someone at home is also listening without "your Google Play account is being used on another device". And don't suggest multiple Google accounts because going that route created other issues with Google Home and Assistant. Easier to just switch to Spotify. Thanks Google.
  • Spotify has the same access restrictions as Googles service. You can't have two streams at the same time.
  • Nope. I will no longer use any of the Google related music services. I tried using them on a couple of occasions and they had so many playback problems and other issues it totally turned me off, especially for the price they charge. I'm 100% Spotify now and will never look back.
  • I'm the exact opposite to this. The day google kills GPM is the day I cancel my Youtube Premium account and move to Spotify. I'd rather deal with ads in Youtube than the garbage that is youtube music.
  • Use YouTube Vanced for the best of both worlds. P
  • I switched away from it as it is too integrated with my YouTube favorites, history, and likes. I don't need my YouTube stuff populated with my music stuff.
  • Exactly that. If they can separate YouTube music history from YouTube video, and make sure I'm only getting the audio version of the music not the music video, then it may be a viable alternative to Google play music. Additionaly YouTube music doesn't cache on the fly, so when you reach a data dead spot, the music stops dead too. You have to predownload a mixtape playlist instead. Plus I've built a massive amount of play lists as I like it over 4 years, so they have to offer a means of seamless transfer. It's not ready yet.
  • When I saw the writing on the wall, I started searching out any other option to have my personal library stored in the cloud alongside my streaming library like GPM does, and there's not really much of anything... I switched over to Plex Pass+Tidal HiFi, which costs an arm an a leg (more-so since I won't cancel my YouTube subscription, because ads), but actually does what I need. Any song on Tidal right next to my own music.
  • Big Google Play Music fan from Day 1. Especially because I found no one had a lot of the lesser known music I loved and being from Detroit, we have a lot of small bands that didn't get on streaming services until recently, so I had MP3's. Tried Spotify, fell into it especially because it let me kill a podcast and music app being separate, but canceled and went back to Youtube Music for the same reason as you stated Money. The thing I hate Youtube Music. It never seems to work right, recommendations are odd, I end up with the video instead of the song, offline is a mess, issues I had with GPM now that they are starting to slowly kill it were present such as showing the wrong song playing, and I don't want my Youtube viewing integrated with my music listening. I went in on a deal for Spotify family in December and have not even gone back because It is such a smoother experience. Thought about Amazon Music, but not 100% I want in on that.
  • Offline has been fixed, there's a toggle to help ensure you get the song instead of the video, and recommendations can take a little while but they'll get there the more songs you like or add to playlists.
  • The only reason I even have Google's music services is due to no ads in YouTube and I don't want to pay for two services.. otherwise, would much rather just have GPM The day GPM is shut down I will have to evaluate if i can live with ads in YouTube and go to Spottily. Annoying that Google hasn't made a GPM or YouTube Music app on the Apple Watch when Spotify has. I get why, but it does alienate some users and they have enough money to at least get one done.
  • Yep. Same here
  • I switched to Deezer and couldn't be happier
  • I went back to Spotify. Honestly, YouTube music just collects too much data that’s unnecessary to maintain a music service. It’s yet another data gathering tool for Google. Which I find somewhat problematic in this case, as google charges quite a bit for it.
  • Google Play Music still works, right?
  • For the moment, but it's being retired soon
  • Not having access to the all of my own music that I have uploaded to Google Play Music via Music Locker is enough for me to pass on YouTube Music. 😮
  • Geez, such complications and brew-ha-ha over music service. Gimme the good 'ol days of LPs, giant album covers, and radio over this crap any day.
  • I've tried all the music streaming services several times. The only one I really enjoy is Spotify. I get Hulu free with my Spotify subscription now, & if I cancel, I can't get Hulu back for free. I get irritated with commercials on YouTube & enjoyed free YouTube premium, but YouTube music is really lacking. I could get YouTube premium for an extra $2 a month than what I pay for Spotify, but I'd lose Hulu. YouTube music sucks compared to Spotify. I, too, would like to save the money; but not at the expense of giving up what is for me the only intuitive music streaming service out there.
  • I tried spotify several times but just didn't like it...YTM for me.
  • @Joe Maring Do you have any information regarding the ability to migrate our playlists from GPM to YTM?
  • It's coming - Google's shuttering GPM anytime now.
  • i like the concept of Youtube Music + Youtube Premium, the YTM is integrated with Youtube videos is great value for music that not available in Spotify (like meme music for example). But i more listen to Korean and Japanese music, and that the problem with YTM. For example, i'm search for artist "DAOKO" and result just only one song, "yeah maybe just DAOKO that not have all the album on YTM" i thought, then i search for "Jopping" from SuperM, and the result is just only video music that annoy me because its video format with sound effect. And my friend told me to search "Sayuri", and the result is the same, only one album. but overall the experience is good, even better result for the songs recommendation than other music streaming services. I wish the music library for Korean & Japanese songs that i listen is available later.
  • Google is creating a monopoly on more and more services. That cannot end well.
    Why would you help them achieve that domination when you can use standalone, independent services?
  • Do you use Amazon?
  • I'm sticking to GPM for free downloads.
  • First, there's no reason Google couldn't implement whatever "new" features available in YTM to GPM. There was a time when I would select a song and it would suggest the YouTube video, which it no longer does. Next, on the opposite end of your view, in GPM, I fully appreciate liking a song and having it added to a liked list, where, if I'm in a hurry, I can simply mix my liked list and never come across a song I don't like. My problem with the whole "like/unlike teaching an algorithm what I like" is not knowing if it will simply stop playing a specific song or a specific artist.
  • The price perspective you're pointing out doesn't make much sense to me because you're still paying 120 a year for YT music aren't you? For premium services I mean.
  • No, he's not paying squat for the services. He steals the services by using his mommy and daddy's account. I wonder how the article would differ if he was actually paying for it. Would he have continued on with Spotify or still moved to Google?
  • We share different subs because why not? It makes more sense financially for all of us. If it was the other way around and my parents were paying for Disney+ and I was paying for YouTube Premium, it'd be the same story. Ad-free YouTube is impossible to get away from after having it for so many years.
  • but family plans?
  • Who cares, your comment sucks balls.
  • Not sure stealing is the right word when using a Google Family Plan. Seems the correct use to me.
  • I only use it because of the ad-free YouTube, but I really like Google Play Music better. I don't like that I cannot add music to my Likes using the Apple Carplay in my car.
  • YouTube music is still really bad when it comes to "radio" stations. So annoying they can't be in my library or recent section. Have to browse/search for an artist every time...
  • Just to add, gapless playback does not work for downloaded tracks, only streaming ones.
    And I've always put the issue of tracks only appearing in compilation/soundtracks down to licensing deals, but could be wrong on that. YTM's got a way to catch up on the available tracks compared to GPM too.
  • I’ve like YouTube Music but I’ve uploaded my whole library of music to GPM and until they move all that over I can’t make the switch. If they don’t move it over and shut down GPM I will leave to another platform.