YouTube Music vs. Google Play Music

Google currently owns two music streaming services: YouTube Music and Google Play Music. However, Google recently announced that the two streaming services would eventually merge into YouTube Music. No solid date has been set, but in the meantime, you can still choose between YouTube Music and Google Play Music.

Although the two services are similar, they do offer unique features. With Google Play Music, you can upload music to your device or subscribe to a library of 40 million songs. You can also create playlists, download songs, listen to radio stations or subscribe to podcasts. YouTube Music also provides millions of ad-free songs and videos. It allows you to add personalized radio stations, build a personal library, create playlists and download songs. If you’d like to read some YouTube Music and Google Play Music reviews, the best place to visit is the Google store. Google Play has an average rating of 4.1 stars out of 5 stars. YouTube Music comes in at 3.9 stars out of 5 stars. Best of all, both of these plans have free tiers, so you don’t have to spend a ton to start listening.

Compare YouTube Music vs. Google Play Music plans

Google Play Music PremiumGoogle Play Music Premium FamilyYouTube Music PremiumYouTube Music Premium StudentYouTube Music Premium Family
Monthly price$9.99/mo.$14.99/mo.$9.99/mo.$4.99/mo.$14.99/mo.
Free trial length30 days30 days3 months1 month1 month
Number of songs40 million40 million30 million30 million30 million
Number of account users16115
Offline listeningYesYesYesYesYes

Which streaming service is right for you?

When it comes to whether YouTube Music or Google Play Music is best for you, your decision will likely depend on your media preferences. YouTube Music’s content is a mixture of audio and video streaming. Google Play Music’s offerings include audio streaming and podcasts.

User experience

If you’ve never used the YouTube Music app, the interface may be a bit of an adjustment, as it’s based around videos and not music. When you first open the app, it will ask you to pick some artists you like, then it will make recommendations and create a mix based on your choices.

The best feature that YouTube Music has is that it allows you to toggle between the video player and the audio player, so you don’t have to run videos all of the time. There are several tools at your disposal, such as adding music to your library, changing your queue, creating playlists and downloading songs to your device. You also have direct access to Google’s search engine to find any song you want.

You can personalize your user experience by adjusting the streaming quality, streaming on Wi-Fi only and switching accounts. You can also tweak your recommendations and choose the restricted mode to block mature videos.

If you’ve used iTunes, Pandora or Spotify in the past, then Google Play Music’s interface will look familiar and be easier to navigate. After you download the app and sign in, the first thing that Google Play Music will ask you to do is turn on the location feature so it can make location-driven suggestions. 

To get started, simply tap the explore tool and type in your request. From there, you can access endless features and tools. You can also add music to your library, create playlists, download songs or edit the queue. There are also several ways to personalize your account. For instance, you can adjust your play history settings, block explicit songs, improve your recommendations, manage your devices and set a sleep timer.

YouTube Music is compatible with Amazon Fire Sticks, Android phones, Android TV Boxes, Apple TVs, iPads, iPhones, Linux computers, PCs, Macs and Roku devices. Google Play Music works with Amazon Fire Sticks, Android phones, Android TV Boxes, Apple TVs, iPads, iPhones, Linux computers, PCs, Macs and Roku devices.

Extras

With YouTube Music, you can save videos offline and retrieve them if you’re not connected to the internet. The Background Play feature keeps videos or music playing while you use other apps or turn your screen off. YouTube Music Premium also includes full access to the YouTube Kids app. Google Play Music’s discovery package allows you to fine-tune your listening experience based on music stations, new releases, song/artist radio and top charts. You can also use the Sound Search feature (similar to Shazam) to identify songs by listening to them. Google Play Music also as gives you podcasts, but YouTube Music doesn’t.

Disadvantages

YouTube Music does have a couple of disadvantages—it doesn’t have podcasts, for instance. Also, if you have no interest in paying to watch videos on your phone, you’re more likely to enjoy Google Play Music.

Google Play Music also has a few issues. It will eventually be replaced by YouTube Music, and it doesn’t contain videos. That’s a huge disadvantage since YouTube Music has both video and audio for the same price.

The takeaway

With Google Play Music on the verge of demise, it’s difficult to make any long-term recommendations on the service. That being said, Google Music Play offers an excellent option that’s as good or better than most. It has an extensive music catalog, lots of personalized features, an easy user interface and podcasts.

YouTube Music, on the other hand, gives you more for the same price and provides access to Google Play Music for just $2/mo. more. It also throws in the Kids service and has billions of video and audio files. The service also has one or two features you can’t find on Google Play Music.

If you don’t care about videos, then you may like the simplicity of Google Play Music. If you love videos and don’t care about podcasts, then YouTube Music is the way to go.

Edward Humphries

Contributing Writer

With a sharp focus on strong SEO-driven content, Edward has built a solid professional career as a freelance content writer over the last six years. He has worked with numerous digital marketing agencies and web designers nationwide to produce content that truly reflects a company’s vision, message, and marketing goals. His main industries include legal, technology, automotive, contracting & home improvement, and medical. He also loves writing about music and has been playing music for over 20 years. Edward graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in education. He currently lives in Pensacola, Florida with his wife and two children.