Google YouTube Music vs the world: How it compares with Amazon Prime Music, Spotify and Apple Music in India
A lot has happened in past two months in the world of technology. We have seen the beginning of the foldable phone and the 5G phone era and we have seen two of the world's biggest and most popular music streaming services, these are Spotify and the YouTube Music, making their way to India. This is a piece of news that has gladdened the hearts of a lot of audiophiles and tech savvy people in the country. YouTube Music in India is here for real. Those foldable phones, which will cost upwards of Rs 1.5 lakh will come later. So, let's talk about the YouTube Music. And Spotify. And let's throw in the mix Amazon Music and Apple Music to see how these services compare.
While Spotify entered India last month, Google launched its new music-streaming platform - the YouTube Music - in India last week. Along with introducing the free (but ad-supported) version of YouTube Music, the company also introduced the YouTube Music Premium, which provides an ad-free service, along with the ability to download songs, at a cost of Rs 99 per month. Then there is the YouTube Premium, which is essentially the paid version of YouTube as we know it today and it offers an ad-free service along with access to the YouTube originals.
When it comes to music, YouTube arguably houses the biggest video library in the world. Be it the original albums, or the covers or even the live performances, there is nothing that one would not find on its racks, which as one would understand is a lot. While the service, by the virtue of its gigantic library, has an inherent advantage over other services prominent music streaming services like - Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Prime Music -- in the country, even so, one cannot help but wonder how well does it compare with the music-streaming services it competes with.
So here's a breakdown that will help you understand how well the YouTube Music compares with other top-end services in India:
The YouTube Music undeniably is one app that has simplistic and refined user interface. The app looks clean and is easy to use. It has three sections - the Library, which has your collection of downloaded and liked songs and album, the Hotlist, which features the new and trending songs and albums, and the Home, which is where you can discover music. It is categorised into sections, where you can discover new tracks and play old ones. On the top right corner of the app (your profile picture) is the menu where you can tweak the app, check your history and make payments.
The only other music streaming service, which has an equally simplified user interface, if not more, is Spotify. It has four tabs at the bottom. While Home gives you access to tracks and playlists, Your Library is your personal collection of tracks, albums and playlists. The Search tab lets you explore music based on genres and the Premium tab gives you access to the Premium version of the app.
The Apple Music and the Amazon Prime Music, in contrast have a rather complicated interface, full of tabs and sections that can easily confuse anyone. While in Amazon Prime Music, you need to surf between Home, Stations and Playlists sections and Browse, Recents, My Music and Alexa tabs besides accessing the three dots on top for accessing the controls, Apple Music is even more complicated with five tabs - Library, consisting a whole bunch of sub-sections, For You, Browse, Radio and Search tabs that expand into a whole bunch of sub-sections, playlists and tabs.
On the other hand, the look and feel of Google Play Music, by the virtue of being the first, is quite similar to that of the YouTube Music. With four tabs - Home, Recent, Library and Browse - and a left slider to access Settings, Play Music is again one of the simplest music streaming platforms.
In a nutshell, I find that the YouTube Music, Spotify and Google Play Music have the easiest and most user-friendly interface among these music streaming apps.
All the music streaming apps come loaded with features that enhances the overall experience on their platforms.
The newly launched YouTube Music, as T Jay Fowler, Director of Product Management, Music Products, YouTube, told India Today Tech, features the best of Google Play Music, which is powered by Google's machine learning technology and YouTube's extensive official catalogue and distribution network. It comes with a host of interesting features such as You Mix Tape, Discover Mix, New Releases among others which gives users the ability to listen to their favorite tracks while enabling them to explore more.
Additionally, there is an audio switch, which allows users to switch between the audio and video formats of a track without a hitch. There are settings that allow users to control the quality of the downloaded video or audio file so that they can control their memory and data usage.
Some of these features - data saver, new albums, which are updated every Friday, daily hits, and data saver features are also available in the Google Play Music. Additionally, there is a playlist that is based on the songs that are popular in an individual user's geographical area.
Spotify, on the other hand, is known for its intensive -- and often much-loved -- customisation. Apart from offering some of its best international features, which includes playlists such as Your Daily Mixes, Recommended Mixes and Editorial Picks, Spotify also offers content in regional Indian languages including Tamil, Tegulu and Punjabi and it also has a section of songs categorised based on music genres and mood. The recommendations are accurate as per individual taste and the app is fairly simple to use.
On the contrary, the Amazon Prime Music highlights the new releases on the top, which as we scroll down in the app is followed by sections such as - latest Hindi songs, new English songs, trending playlists, popular albums, featured artists and its Stations. It also has exclusive stations dedicated to popular music genres and artists. Then, the app has a special section dedicated to playlists. And if you don't want to do your dirty work yourself, you can always summon Alexa on your Android or iPhone and ask her to play your favourite songs from within the Prime Music app. As a cautionary tale, there is a lot of mix and match of stations and playlists within its tabs, which can sometimes complicate the overall user experience.
Lastly, there is Apple Music, which like rest of Apple's ecosystem is a different world in itself. It's like a wine that takes time getting used to. From its Browse section, which contains playlists, music videos, new releases and music that is segregated based on genre, to its For You section, which is updated daily and it brings songs from top artists and albums, to its Radio section, which has one of the most extensive collection of Radio stations, Apple Music is not for everyone. It, like its iPhones, is for a niche class of audiophiles, who know exactly which note they want to hear.
Pricing is a game-changing equation among these music streaming platforms. The newly launched YouTube Music comes in two variants - an ad-supported variant, YouTube Music, which is free and its ad-free version, YouTube Music Premium, which costs Rs 99 a month. This totals to Rs 1,188 a year. There is also a family pack, which costs Rs 149 a month or Rs 1,788 a year and gives premium services to up to six members of a family. The good news that if you are a Google Play Music subscriber, which also costs Rs 99 a month, you don't have to pay anything extra for YouTube Music Premium as you will be upgraded for free. This means that for Rs 99 a month, you get both access to endless audio tracks and videos.
Spotify, on the other hand, offers a more detailed pricing plan for its Premium users. For instance, you can get Spotify Premium for Rs 129 a month, for Rs 389 for three months, Rs 719 for six months or Rs 1,189 for a year. In case you are wondering about Apple Music, it costs Rs 120 a month, which totals to Rs 1,440 a year - and hence is a bit costlier than the rest. Sure it has Apple's own vast collection of stations, playlists and videos and it is ideal for iPhone users, but is its collection wider than YouTube Music and hence worth it? Well, that part can always be debated.
Amazon Prime, which bundles Amazon's express delivery along with Prime Music, Prime Video along with access to access to Amazon's vast library of e-books, is available at a monthly rental of Rs 129 a month, which totals to Rs 1,548 a year. Alternatively, you can opt for a yearly plan of Rs 999, which by far is the cheapest pricing plan available at the moment.
Be it YouTube Music or Amazon Prime Music or Spotify or Apple Music - all these apps cater to users with a special set of needs. For instance, if you love your videos and are extensively connected with Google's ecosystem, YouTube Music is the best available option for you. Bonus: You get both YouTube Music and Google Play Music at the cost of one. On the other hand, if you own an iPhone and an iPad or a Mac Apple Music could be your go to choice. However, YouTube Music with its extensive library of songs and videos, relatively cheap subscription plan and simple user interface is a strong contender, and perhaps even one of the best options, for everyone.
However, if you want more in less, Amazon Prime is easily the best service for you as it offers a host of extras at a very nominal price of Rs 999. At this price you get access to not just music but excellent Amazon Prime videos as well as free and fast shipping if you shop on Amazon India. It's also the cheapest in the market right now.