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Music Distribution Services: Who Wins the Spotify vs YouTube Music vs Apple Music War – Score Short Reads

In the last few decades, we have seen quite a few waves of the music streaming revolution. From CDs to Napster to iPods, music distribution services have had to get with the times and come to a stage where unlimited music is streamed for free from every corner of the world. 

Music Distribution Services: Which is the Best?

The three big giants in the music distribution industry in 2021 are Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music. We are seeing the ripples of a new social media and technology revolution, but will they be enough to push one of these titans out of business? 

Before answering that question, let’s take a good look at how these companies differ and what their similarities are. 

BasisSpotifyYoutube Music Apple music
DesignDark interface, 2D layout, easy to understand Dark/Light interface, looks like a mix of Spotify and Apple MusicDark and Light interface, separate browse tab
FeaturesCompatible with every third-party device Only compatible with Google Home and Google NestCompatible with a few devices. 
Music SuggestionDiscover Weekly every Monday.
Daily Mixes according to your music plays.
New music suggestions through Release Radar.
No Live Music 
Discover Playlists every Wednesday Live Music and coversRadio Beats 1
Suggests music according to your current listens. 
PlaylistsRecommends songs for your playlistsSuggests playlists according to the songs you are listening toDoes not suggest music for the playlists you have made
Lyrics/Video Lyrics generated by Genius (only for some tracks) 
No music videos.
Lyrics from lyric videos. 
Music videos are available.
Integrated lyrics.
Music Video playlists
Sound Quality 320 Kbps OGG Vorbis128/256 Kbps AAC Bitrate 256 Kbps AAC Bitrate
PodcastsIntegrated within the application No integration within the app. Google Podcasts No integration within the app. Apple Podcasts 
PlansFour different plans to choose from
Individual plan for Rs. 719/ 6 months
(3 months free)
Individual plan for Rs. 139/ month
(1 month free)
Individual plan for Rs. 99/ month
(3 months free) 
Paid Subscriptions155 million30 million 72  million 

Is Spotify facing a threat in the business?

A report of Spotify’s second-quarter numbers from 2021 showed that they bagged 7 million premium subscribers, totalling their monthly active users to a whopping 365 million in this quarter. These figures were below what the company had expected especially in countries like India and Brazil. CEO and founder, Daniel Ek announced that Spotify will continue to cement its standing as the preferred audio platform around the world. Are the other two giants giving Spotify these jolts with the competition? 

Even with more than double the premium subscriptions of Apple Music, Spotify has incurred a loss of $698 million in 2020. They have been aggressively pushing advertisements during music streaming to streamline losses and urge people to shift to premium but that comes with a side of annoyed consumers. 

Artists also have been complaining about the low pay rate per stream, which is $0.00437 currently, and have threatened to leave Spotify. Taylor Swift and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke boycotted Spotify over this artist revenue model in 2014. For three years Taylor pulled off all her music from the streaming service, claiming that Spotify’s royalties per play were too low. Both the artists came back on the streaming service eventually, but this episode will remain big enough to tarnish Spotify’s image among artists. 

Now that YouTube Music is gaining traction with every new update, Spotify needs to buckle up if it doesn’t want to be left behind in the game. 

The platform has been praised for its web of connectivity and AI that suggests music, but listeners have claimed that they would like to see a more intuitive approach to making playlists and extra content on the application. Users like having access to lyrics when they are listening to a song for the first time. Spotify needs to listen to what the people need and act on it right away. 

A huge advantage that Spotify has in the streaming business is that it is the most culturally relevant platform for artists. If you are a hit on Spotify, you are branded as a successful artist. The streaming service should use this as a unique proposition before the other two giants take over the market with their frequent updates. 

Apple Music’s update might change how music is listened to 

In June 2021, Apple Music came up with a new update that might change the music industry forever. It is ready to give its users an immersive listening experience through multi-dimensional sound and clarity. This has become possible through Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos in Lossless Audio. This means the listener will be able to experience music exactly how it was made in the studio. This update will be available on AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip. This technological advancement might pave the way for a new music revolution in the industry. 

Apple Music still has a long way to go in terms of music suggestion and playlist curation AI but updates like these might just put them at par with the competitors. 

What’s new and exciting about YouTube Music 

Everyone’s been testing out YouTube Music, a streaming platform launched globally in 2015, entering the Indian market in 2019. It has gained quite the following despite being the youngest contender in this war. Tech experts are calling it the lovechild of Spotify and Apple Music, and it rightly brings everything Spotify and Apple Music couldn’t do, to the table. 

YouTube Music is known to have every song that you could ever think of. Now, we know that Spotify India doesn’t give their audience access to a lot of top artists so YouTube Music takes the win here. 

It brings both lyrics and videos while music streaming and since YouTube is a video content creation platform, live and cover music also thrive on this platform. It also takes the song suggestion feature to the next level by suggesting entire playlists related to the songs you personally add to your playlist. 

YouTube Music also has announced a very unique program that sets it apart from its adversaries. Foundry is a global artist development program that funds and supports artists from all around the world so that they can create content that reaches a bigger audience and creates a greater impact. The Class of 2021 includes Seedhe Maut, a Hip-Hop artist from New Delhi, India. The spirit of celebration of artists and building of communities can be highlighted through this program and YouTube Music has made a huge name for itself through this. 

YouTube Music allows Chromecast connectivity but unfortunately isn’t compatible with many devices. It seems to have the potential to grow bigger than its competitors. It will be exciting to see what Google does with this new platform. 

Is there a winner in this war? 

These clashes of technology and business in the music space have been going on for a long time but these three rivals always end up rising to the top. That is because each of them has something fresh to offer and it seems like they balance the boat of music streaming with their perks and lurks. 

It feels like this war will only result in all three platforms putting their best foot forward, bringing new innovations occasionally to get ahead in this never-ending race. 

Who needs a winner when you have three tech giants fighting for your attention right? 

Primary Keyword: music distribution services

Secondary Keywords: music streaming, Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, music distribution industry

Meta description: Three of the biggest music distribution services are at war with each other and none of them are backing down. Occasional updates by these companies in the music streaming world might bring around a streaming revolution with new technology and programs. 

Spotify –

Youtube Music –

Apple music –

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