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YouTube Premium vs YouTube Music: What’s The Difference?

Confused about YouTube’s paid services? Here’s a quick explainer on the difference between YouTube Music and YouTube Premium…


YouTube is owned by Google and not so long ago it was a standalone service. But times change and Google needs growth, so the YouTube brand, arguably Google’s second biggest product, evolved.

As things stand right now, you have three YouTube-branded services: YouTube, YouTube Premium and YouTube Music.

But what are these services and how are they different? Here’s everything you need to know…

Key Takeaways:

  • YouTube Premium is an ad-free, paid-for version of YouTube. It works the same but there’s no adverts and you get access to special, exclusive content when you’re signed up.
  • YouTube Music is Google’s music streaming service. Previously known as Google Play Music, Google rebranded its music streaming platform in 2018, following increased competition from Apple and Spotify.
  • You can get YouTube Music for free when you subscribe to YouTube Premium or you can take hit out as a standalone music streaming service like Spotify, Apple Music or TIDAL where you pay a monthly fee to access its 50+ million songs.
  • There is crossover between YouTube Music and YouTube, however, as Google’s video platform acts as a medium to watch content – stuff like concerts and music videos – inside YouTube Music.
  • YouTube Music is free with a YouTube Premium subscription, or you can get it as a standalone app for $9.99/month in the US and £11.99/month in the UK.

What is YouTube Premium?

Does YouTube Premium include YouTube MusicPin

YouTube Premium is basically a paid-version of Google’s standard YouTube service. It works exactly the same, only with Premium there are no adverts. And, once you’re subscribed to Premium, you get free access to things like YouTube Music, YouTube Originals, and exclusive content from creators.

If you use YouTube A LOT and you don’t like adverts, I would argue – as I did in my YouTube Premium Review – that the monthly fee is well worth its cost. I was initially hesitate about “paying” for YouTube at first but then quickly realised how much better the service is WITHOUT adverts – it’s like an entirely different platform.

On top of this, you get free access to YouTube Music too. This is done as a kind of sweetener, a way to promote Google’s music streaming platform. As you’ll see inside our Ultimate Guide to YouTube Music, the service does have plenty of benefits over its peers. But it isn’t without its caveats.

The most pressing of which is YouTube Music’s poor sound quality, especially when compared to services like TIDAL and Apple Music. As a freebie alongside YouTube Premium, it’s fine – it has everything and the app is really well designed, especially when compared to Apple Music and TIDAL.

What is YouTube Music?

youtube music ux designPin

YouTube Music is basically Google’s answer to Spotify and/or Apple Music. On its own, it is a paid monthly service – just like Spotify and Apple Music. It has over 50 million songs and it pulls in video content from YouTube.

YouTube Music has many similar features to Spotify and Apple Music but it also has a few additional tricks up its sleeve.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the cool features you’ll find inside YouTube Music:

  • YouTube Music’s Home tab helps you find new music based on your listening history and current location.
  • You can switch between audio-only or video playback on songs with a single tap.
  • The app also offers access to exclusive content, such as live performances and artist interviews.
  • YouTube Music has an Offline Mixtape feature that creates custom playlists for you to download and listen to without using any data.
  • The New Release Radio allows you to explore new music in a variety of genres tailored specifically to your taste.
  • And there’s the Listen Now tab which helps surface up recommendations based on your listening habits.
  • YouTube Music also has a Lyrics feature, so you can follow the words of your favorite tracks as they play.
  • YouTube Music has seamless cross-platform integration (even with Apple products like iPhone and iPad), so you can quickly move from one device to another without losing anything.

Is it better than Spotify or Apple Music? In some respects, yes, but the main issue YouTube Music has right now is its streaming quality – it is significantly lower than what you get on Spotify, TIDAL, and Apple Music.

For this reason, you’re probably best looking elsewhere, either Spotify or Apple Music, for your go-to music streaming platform.

But I can wholeheartedly recommend YouTube Premium; I use it literally every day and it is well worth the asking price.

I probably wouldn’t pay for YouTube Music by itself, not with its current audio quality, but as a freebie thrown in with a YouTube Premium subscription? What’s not to like!

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin is a leading UK technology journalist with a focus on consumer tech trends and data security. Renowned for his insightful analysis, Richard has contributed to Sky News, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 2, and CNBC, making complex tech issues accessible to a broad audience.

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