Apple Music vs Spotify vs YouTube Music: Which Music Streaming Subscription is Best?

apple music vs spotify

Sometimes I chance upon 90s memes about how we used “share” songs over MSN messenger and load it into our mp3 players. All I can say is: Thank God for Apple Music and Spotify. Online music streaming has saved us all.

The biggest names in today’s scene are Apple Music and Spotify, with new entrant YouTube Music coming a distant third (not surprising since it was late to the game).

Which is best? Let’s take a look at the big 3 and compare subscription fees.

Apple Music vs Spotify vs YouTube Music prices

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of their prices:

Apple Music Spotify Premium YouTube Music
Free Trial 3 months 3 months 1 month
Free Plan Not available Free with ads. No offline mode, no downloads
Free with ads. No background play, no downloads
Student Plan $4.98/month $4.99/month $4.98/month
Standard Plan $9.98/month $9.99/month $9.98/month
Family Plan $14.98/month $14.98/month $14.98/month

TLDR; The prices for Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music are almost the same, only differing by less than 10 cents, if any at all.

  • Both Apple Music and Spotify have 3-month free trials for their full versions; YouTube Music only has a 1-month free trial
  • Apple Music is the only one with no free version
  • All 3 family plans are the same price, and allow up to 6 members per subscription
  • Apple Music is more compatible with Apple devices, but Spotify and YouTube Music works well with just about everything else

Apple Music — no free version, booo

Let’s get this one out of the way: Apple Music does not have a free version, so if you’re a cheapo about this, don’t bother with Apple.

If you don’t mind paying a subscription fee, then by all means sign up for their trial. As all 3 music streaming services offer free trials, that’s 7 months of free music streaming.

Apple Music and Spotify both offer 3-month free trials, which is a decent period for you to assess whether you want to pay for it. YouTube Music, on the other hand, only gives you 1 month free. Penny pinchers.

After half a year of use, you would probably already have a good idea of which one you prefer. If you like Apple Music, you have no choice but to pay $9.98 or $14.98 for the Individual or Family plan.

Personally, I felt that Apple Music and Spotify as good as perfect substitutes in terms of price and music offerings. If you’re undecided, just choose the one you think looks better. If you’re an iPerson, that’s probably Apple Music.

As with all of the brands’ products, if you plan to stream music with an Apple ecosystem of smart devices, then Apple Music is more compatible. Apple Music is also great if you rely on Siri for voice-activated commands.

Apple Music also boasts “lossless” quality with their proprietary AAC codec, and works well their Spatial Audio function that you can find in their AirPods (get your free AirPods here!).

Spotify — should you pay for Premium?

Spotify Free is perhaps the most popular music streaming option in Singapore. Most people I know use Spotify Free until they can form a 6-man “family” for Spotify Family. You can access the full music, podcast, and audiobook libraries without paying a single cent.

However, although you don’t pay in dollars and cents, you’ll need to bear with quite a few annoying “costs”.

Firstly, Spotify Free is supported by advertisers — that’s why it’s free. You also can’t download your favourite tracks, so whenever you stream, it’ll use up your monthly mobile data quota unless you have wifi.

But the biggest problem is that on mobile, you can’t just search for a song and play it. Instead, it’ll be added to a mix of songs (that Spotify would’ve curated for you). You won’t hear it right away (aka, when you want to), but you’ll eventually shuffle to it.

I tried creating 1-song playlists to work around this limitation, but Spotify kept “helpfully” adding more songs to extend my playlist. So that doesn’t work.

If you like discovering new music and just need some background music playing, then it’s fine. But if you want to play specific songs and loop them, then tough luck.

YouTube Music — should you pay for Premium?

Unlike the other 2 with their generous 3-month free trials, YouTube Music‘s trial is only for 1 month. But at least you can continue with the free version of YouTube Music.

As you’d expect, the free version of YouTube Music has ads. Can’t complain much, since you are getting a free service.

Unlike Spotify, the mobile version of YouTube Music Free allows you to choose songs. But it has a super annoying feature: the music stops playing once the app is in the background (e.g. if your phone is in its lock screen).

So the main reason to subscribe to YouTube Music Premium is this “background play” feature. Otherwise, you can’t leave it to play songs while you do other things like a normal person.

YouTube Music has a slight edge if you often watch YouTube videos already. It auto suggests music based on your preferences. Also, you can stream or download music videos if your phone has the data or space for it.

Which music streaming subscription should you choose?

If you want a free music streaming service, go for Spotify Free. You can’t choose the exact track you want on mobile, but it’s OK if you’re just looking for some background music.

If you like watching live performances or music videos, definitely go with YouTube Music — their catalogue is unmatched. The free version of YouTube Music is acceptable on desktop, but forget about using the app as it’ll just stop your music mid-song.

But if you want a recommendation for paid subscriptions, then pick the one whose brand colours you like. (shrugs)

Personally, I use Spotify Premium (even on my Apple devices) for its superior song recommendation algorithm. But if Spotify suddenly died and I had to switch to Apple Music, it wouldn’t cause so much as a blip in my day.

Also, all 3 services let you follow your friends on the platform, so that may affect your decision too. If you want to know what songs your social circle love, then pick the one more friends are on.

How to save money on your music streaming subscription

1. Form a “family”

Spotify, YouTube Music and Apple Music all offer family plans at $14.98/month. You can share your subscription with up to 5 people (so 6 members in total), which works out to a very affordable $2.50/month per person.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to share your playlists with your actual family members — it can be a group of friends.

2. Consider subscribing via Singtel

If you are using Singtel for your mobile plan, you can check out their rates for Apple Music and Spotify add-ons.

To get discounted rates, you’ll need to commit to 12-month contracts for the streaming service of your choice. It’ll then cost $8.98/month (Apple Music) or $8.90/month (Spotify Premium) — basically a dollar off a month, or $12 a year.

3. Charge it to an online spending credit card

It’s not a huge expense, but since you’ll need to link a credit card to your account anyway, might as well use an online spending credit card to get a bit of cashback or points out of it, like this one.

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Online Spend, including Food Delivery and Groceries
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Grab and Gojek
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All Other Spend
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Some cashback credit cards also count music streaming subscriptions towards their bonus cashback categories, like this:

Maybank logo
Online Promo
Cashback on Groceries, Dining & Food Delivery and Transport globally
Up to 8%
Cashback on Data Communications, Online TV Streaming, Pets and Retail globally
Up to 8%
Cash Rebate Cap per month
S$125
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Valid until 31 Oct 2021

If all else fails, just use a no-frills unlimited cashback card as there’s no minimum spending requirement OR cap.

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Min. Spend per month
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