Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Here’s why it’ll be tough for YouTube Music to catch up with Spotify and Apple

Published Jun 20th, 2018 12:05PM EDT
YouTube Music launches
Image: Google

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

Many of us happily play the field when it comes to streaming our favorite movie and TV shows, with multiple subscriptions to services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, maybe HBO and more. Music, though, is a different animal – if you already pay for Spotify, in other words, you don’t necessarily need to plunk down coin for a rival service that’s just going to get you most of what you already have access to.

It’s into that fray and an arguably already crowded competitive landscape that YouTube Music has turned a soft launch in May into widespread availability — now having launched in 17 countries, including the U.S.

YouTube is charging $9.99 for the premium service that will eventually replace Google Play Music and which gives you access to massive YouTube’s library of music. You may already be relying on YouTube for music now, for free – that’s how most of its 1.5 billion monthly visitors listen to music. For free, grudgingly accepting the ads.

As for its other big competitors, meanwhile, tens of millions of people have already picked sides. Between them, Spotify and Apple Music already boast some 125 million paying subscribers.

The average music fan – someone who listens casually, who’s not necessarily into this or that exclusive that’s made available on a certain service and who may not have much time for customization – probably won’t have much reason to switch if they’ve already decided to go with Spotify or Apple. Music is just not like movies and TV, where we subscribe to competing services, many of which offer the same titles separate from their unique originals.

Still, if you want to check it out, here are some things to know:

You can get the YouTube Music app from the iOS App Store and Google Play store, as well as by visiting

The features you’d expect are here. Playlist suggestions, for example, based on themes like “groove party” as well as featuring fits and older classics. You’re steered toward other artists you might like, based on what you’ve listened to. Plus music videos and live performances.

“Discover Weekly” is one of the best-loved features of Spotify, with its personalized playlists, and a version of that is here in the form of curated lists for you like “Your Mixtape.” You can also use YouTube Music to generate a playlist on the fly for a specific artist you like.

My prediction: people happy with their current music service and who already dabble with YouTube for free won’t likely be persuaded to cough up $10 a month for it. The company has an uphill battle against the entrenched incumbents, but perhaps they’ll invest in it enough to make it a worthwhile proposition.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.