YouTube Music vs Apple Music: Full Comparison Between Music Streaming Services

Full comparison between YouTube Music and Apple Music: we compared Apple Music and YouTube Music based on pricing, sound quality, exclusive features, and more so you can decide which is better.
YouTube Music vs Apple Music article feature image.

This detailed Apple Music vs YouTube Music article is designed to help you find the best music streaming service for you that also offers the best value for your money. 

Interested in going beyond these two music platforms? Take a look at our Comparisons series for in-depth reviews of other leading music streaming platforms such as Spotify and Amazon Music.

Move playlists or transfer the entire music library between YouTube Music and Apple Music accounts with TuneMyMusic. Enjoy a free online music transfer service and migrate your music library and podcasts between music streaming platforms using TuneMyMysic.

Looking for a TL;DR version? Skip to the end of this article to see a side-by-side comparison table of YouTube Music vs Apple Music, followed by our summary conclusion.

Apple Music vs YouTube Music: Which One Takes the Cake?

How Easy is it to Get Started?

YouTube Music’s ease of access

Starting with YouTube Music is as simple as having a Google account. If you’ve already been using YouTube Music’s parent platform for video streaming for the past decade (like literally everyone else on the planet) — the transition to YouTube Music will be seamless as the two are interconnected. 

A YouTube user is automatically a user of YouTube Music. You just need to sign in to YouTube Music with the account you use on the video streaming platform — and you’ll find all the music you’ve browsed over the years neatly organized in playlists generated through your own historical data, including YouTube videos you may have liked, listening playlists you might have saved, etc.

YouTube Music also doesn’t require you to sign up using an account to take it for a test drive — you can simply go to the platform and listen to music. Sure, you’ll hear some ads, but a lengthy sign-up process won’t get in the way of testing the tool.

Apple Music’s ease of access

You’ll have a different experience getting started, depending on whether you already have Apple devices and accounts or not.

For instance, to sign up for Apple Music, a user needs to first create an Apple ID — which can be a frustrating experience on some non-Apple devices. 

If you’re a long-time user of Apple devices though, you’ll like how the Apple Music system integrates seamlessly into the Apple ecosystem and allows you to access your past iTunes purchases. 

Apple users also get special discounts for using Apple Music — which may make it a better deal for them, anyway. Most Apple devices already come with 6 months of free access to Apple Music

Winner: On this first disputed criteria between YouTube Music vs Apple Music, YouTube Music is a bit more versatile, as it’s not tied to a specific ecosystem, making it a suitable choice for users of various devices. However, Apple Music is better if you’re deeply invested in the ecosystem. 

YouTube Music vs Apple Music article. Apple Music plan discount deals showing six months with Apple deviced purchased, one-month trial for Apple Music, and Apple One bundle by Apple that includes Apple Music.

Device Compatibility: YouTube Music vs Apple Music

Youtube Music

The platform is easily accessible via a web browser, and dedicated mobile apps for iOS and Android. It is also compatible with some Android-powered smartwatches, Smart TVs, Google Pixel buds, Android Auto, Google Home & Nest speakers. 

Apple Music

Apple Music offers extensive device compatibility, including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac, HomePod, CarPlay, PC, Android, Sonos, Amazon Echo, Samsung Smart TV, Google Nest, PlayStation 5, and even a web player.

Winner: Both platforms connect with most devices. However, Apple Music has a slight upper hand here as it also connects with PlayStation 5.

UX & Interface Analysis: YouTube Music vs Apple Music

Youtube Music UI

If you associate the music listening experience with nighttime & darker backgrounds from which album covers can jump out prominently — like a throwback to days of Winamp — you’ll find the YouTube Music interface nostalgic. Both their desktop and mobile versions of the apps use a dark gradient theme.

If you like personalizing the UI to your preferences, you’ll be disappointed to learn that YouTube Music doesn’t offer the Light theme option at all. 

YouTube Music vs Apple Music article. YouTube Music app AI showing first home screen view.

Overall, the app is clean, with the profile menu and search bar located at the top. It’s not an issue on the desktop app, but some users may find it a bit difficult to navigate to these menus, especially if they’re using a tall Android phone. 

Apple Music UI

Apple Music supports both dark and light themes, allowing for a more personalized UI. Apple Music adopts a neat gradient theme based on the album cover. The gradient theme changes throughout the song playback.

YouTube Music vs Apple Music article. Apple Music player UI showing the song Single Soon by Selena Gomez.

On first look, the navigation in Apple Music seems much simpler, with the search bar being on the left-hand side (rather than at the top where the profile settings are). This UI can be much easier on the eyes, especially on smaller screens.

Winner: Apple Music has a definite leg up here. YouTube UI can feel a bit cluttered compared to the more visual and customizable experience that Apple Music offers.

The Music Library: YouTube Music vs Apple Music

YouTube Music Collection

YouTube Music boasts an extensive library of 100 million songs and music videos. Its access to your music history through its parent video-streaming app also means you get a headstart when making your own playlist. 

It’s also easy to find rare tracks that were only uploaded on YouTube, such as song covers and rare live performances from artists.

Apple Music Library

In terms of the size of the music library, Apple also features about the same number of songs as Youtube Music, i.e. 100 million. 

While most popular songs from mainstream artists are available on both platforms, Apple has also been known to secure exclusive early access to music from popular artists like Taylor Swift and Drake in the past in a bid to win more market share against Spotify — the current goliath of the music streaming industry. 

Take, for instance, the Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Taylor Swift’s 1989 — both of which were initially only available on Apple Music. 

That strategy has been a success for them and as Apple leans more into it, we may see this being repeated in the future as well. You may want to pick their music streaming service if getting early access to music from popular artists is a priority for you.

If you’re a classical music lover, you will also appreciate Apple’s Classical Music app, which boasts the largest collection of classical music in the world. You can also play classical music in high-resolution audio quality — a feature not present on any other music platform. The Classical Music app is available with all Apple Music paid plans. 

Winner: When it comes to music catalog, both music apps have distinct advantages that the other doesn’t offer — so we’ll say it’s a draw.

Personalization and New Music Discovery: YouTube Music vs Apple Music

YouTube Music Personalization: Powered by Your Own Recommendations

The songs and artists you’ve watched and liked on YouTube Music’s parent platform contribute to the recommendations you receive on YouTube Music. Search suggestions shown in search results are mostly based on past interactions.

It also features “Mixes” for you, which are essentially personalized playlists based on your listening history. Just like other music streaming services, YouTube offers a “Discover Weekly” playlist that’s updated every Monday, featuring a selection of songs tailored to your preferences.

The platform also provides playlists for specific moods or activities. You can expect to find your favorite artists (with some extra suggestions) sorted into mood playlists — rather than other apps that use their algorithms to craft playlists that go beyond the artists you know and love. 

Apple Music: A Touch of Personalization with More “Music Discoverability”

Just like Spotify and YouTube Music, Apple Music offers “For You” playlists, generated by a blend of algorithms and human editors. These playlists take into account your listening history, liked songs, and the music you’ve added to your library.

It also releases a weekly “New Music Mix” that introduces you to new tracks and artists based on your listening habits on Friday. They also curate an additional “Favorites Mix” on Wednesdays, designed to include songs you’ve liked and frequently listened to.

Apple playlists give you a fair balance of new music, similar to the one you already like, and playlists of your all-time favorites.

Apple Music also gets guest artists and musicians to curate playlists for specific genres and moods — sort of like an “Expert’s pick” playlist, only from your favorite artists.

Winner: In our opinion, Apple Music offers a more well-rounded personalization experience.

In the end, the personalization aspect largely depends on your personal preferences. Whether you prefer the data-driven recommendations of YouTube Music or the curated playlists and human touch of Apple Music, both platforms are committed to helping you discover the music that resonates with you.

Quality of Sound: YouTube Music vs Apple Music

YouTube Music: Variable Quality (Low to Normal)

YouTube Music offers variable sound quality, ranging from 128 kbps for free users to 256 kbps for premium users. It allows premium users to switch the audio quality, especially if their network is too spotty to stream 256 kHz audio.

Apple Music: High-Quality Surround Audio

Apple Music provides high-quality audio with a bitrate of 256 kbps across the board. Moreover, it has recently introduced support for lossless audio, making it an attractive choice for those who prioritize audio fidelity. 

Because lossless audio preserves the original quality of a recording without compression, it’s able to deliver a sound that is identical to what the artist intended, resulting in a richer, more detailed listening experience.
Verdict: YouTube Music is slightly louder than Apple Music, but the difference is volume is not huge. Listening to the same song on both platforms reveals the real winner here, which is Apple Music. Apple’s lossless audio gives the listening experience more clarity and better dynamic perception of the music played.

Pricing: YouTube Music vs Apple Music

For many, pricing is a big decision factor when it comes to subscription services, so let’s take a deep look at how much Apple Music and YouTube are and see the options for each service.

YouTube Music: How Much is Youtube Music? 

YouTube Music offers two subscription tiers: a free ad-supported tier and a premium version. 

For the premium version, Youtube Music just upped its rates for its plans in 2023, with its individual plan now costing $10.99 per month (up from $9.99). By paying annually, you can save up to 15% compared to their monthly plans. Compared to a monthly plan, you’ll pay only $109.99 for 12 months instead of $131.88. Paying annually can therefore save you about $21.89 per year!

The YouTube Music Premium Family plan is now $16.99 per month, allowing up to 6 family members to enjoy ad-free music.

Bonus Tip: If you subscribe to YouTube Premium, you will get access to YouTube Music Premium for free. So if you already use YouTube Music’s parent platform, you get incredible value for your plan with two platforms for the price of one. 

As annual plans offer the best discounts, we recommend opting for those if you plan to make the most of both platforms. You can find out how to subscribe to YouTube Premium annual plans for a good here

Apple Music: How Much Is Apple Music?

Apple Music pricing for individual and family plans is identical to YouTube Music, at $10.99 and $16.66 respectively. Both platforms’ family plans cover 6 family members.

YouTube Music vs Apple Music comparison article. Apple Music plans table showing differences subscription plans for Apple Music and each feature included per plan.

Winner: Because of the free option available, YouTube Music wins here. Not only does YouTube Music offer discounts on annual subscriptions, you can also completely skip the premium plan if you don’t mind some ads. A similar ad-supported free tier is not available on Apple Music.

If you’re a student, you’ll also pay a slightly lower subscription fee of $5.49 for YouTube Music versus Apple Music’s $5.99 student plan.

Social Factor: Ease of Sharing Songs to Friends

YouTube Music’s Ease of Sharing on Social Media

YouTube allows you to share the music you’re listening to on Instagram stories and on Snapchat. It’s, however, limited in other aspects of community interactions. You can’t see your friends’ playlists or get access to “Exclusive Picks” from your favorite artists. 

You also can’t interact with other people’s custom playlists or discover new music through your friends. The only option for music discovery here is their “Explore” tab — which is still mainly focused on algorithmic suggestions.

Apple Music: Connect with Friends

If you subscribe to the paid version of Apple Music (the free version only shows song previews anyway) — your friends can see what you’re listening to, and vice versa. 

All you need to do is follow your friends when you first sign up, and if their profile is not locked, you’ll be able to see their music activity on your app. You can also decide to make your music activity shareable (or not.)

Now it also allows users to share songs on Facebook and Twitter.

Winner: Both platforms aren’t that great if the community factor is a big deal for you.
We personally prefer the “Connect with friends” feature of Apple Music, though. 

Radio Features: YouTube Music vs Apple Music

Apple Music Radio

Apple Music has a better “live radio” vibe and prominently features new releases in different genres. It also features local & international news broadcasts. It also has 24/7 radio stations like Apple Music 1 Live — which make it a great fit for those who still miss the company of radio jockeys on long car rides. 

YouTube Music vs Apple Music article. Apple Music radio page showing a few of the top Apple Music Radio stations.

YouTube Music Radio

Youtube just launched a radio feature this year. Its radio is less radio and more of a collection of user-generated playlists and lesser-known covers and remixes of songs you already love.

Winner: You won’t go wrong with either service if you like mainstream artists. But Apple Music is undoubtedly your best bet due to the diversity of radio content.

Ease of Sharing: YouTube Music vs Apple Music

YouTube Music: Shareable Links

YouTube Music allows you to easily share songs and playlists by generating shareable links. It also doesn’t restrict free users from sharing the playlists through different messaging apps.

YouTube Music vs Apple Music article. YouTube Music social media sharing

Apple Music Shareable Links

With Apple Music too, you can copy the link to share with your friends through messaging apps.

Winner: Both platforms offer similar shareable links, with a few differences between them. For this we will consider a draw.

A Side-by-Side Comparison Table Apple Music vs YouTube Music

AspectYouTube MusicApple MusicBest Option for this Aspect:
Free PlanAd-supported free plan. Only music previews are available.YouTube Music
Pricing (Individual Plan)$10.99 per month (individual)$10.99 per month (individual)Both are priced the same.
Pricing (Family Plan)$14.99 per month (family – up to 6 members)$16.99 per month (family – up to 6 members)Both are priced the same.
Student Plans$5.49 per month $5.99 per month (student)Youtube Music
Annual Discounts15% off Annual plansN/AYoutube Music
Ease of AccessWorks on various platformsIntegrated into Apple ecosystemYoutube Music
Availability of MusicExtensive library with music videos and live performance tracks. Extensive library with exclusive content and a large collection of classical music.Depends on your preference.
Sound QualityRanges from 128 kbps to 256 kbps for premium users.Lossless high-quality surround sound for Premium usersApple Music
Social FactorSome shareability on Instagram stories & Snapchat.Access to Apple Connect, you can see what your friends are listening to, and you can share songs on Facebook & TwitterApple Music
RadioUser-created radio channelsExclusive content, curated radio stations, and international and local news broadcasts.Apple Music
UI Clean UI, dark theme only.Gradient background that changes with the songs, cleaner UX, and availability of both light & dark themes.Apple Music
Ease of SharingShareable linksShareable linksBoth are similar.
Overall Rating7/108.5/10Apple Music

Apple Music or YouTube Music: Which is Better for Me?

If you’re looking for a versatile platform with a vast library, music videos, and an ad-supported free tier— YouTube Music is an excellent choice. 

On the other hand, if you’re deeply entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, value high-quality audio, prefer more customization when it comes to UI, and enjoy exclusive content — Apple Music is definitely the more superior option.

What if you can’t switch to Apple that easily because you’ve already created a playlist with labor of love on another platform? TuneMyMusic has got your back.

Seamlessly Transfer Playlists from One Music Streaming Service to Another

Have we convinced you to switch to Apple Music yet? 

Our YouTube Music to Apple Music transfer and Apple Music to YouTube Music converter services helps you transfer your playlists to different music streaming services seamlessly. We also support conversions for and to TIDAL, Deezer, Spotify, Amazon Music, and many others.