Google Music vs. Spotify: Which Music Service is Best?

Two big names in audio streaming go head to head

Woman listening to music on headphones

Lilly Roadstones/Getty Images

At first glance, Google Music and Spotify seem similar, but there are major differences that can make or break your experience. Keep reading to learn more about Google Music vs. Spotify, including sound quality, pricing, and some pros and cons to help you narrow down the right music streaming subscription service for your needs.

What Is Google Music?

What We Like

  • Supports wav files for higher sound quality

  • Permits up to 50,000 song uploads

  • Comes free with YouTube Premium

What We Don't Like

  • Disjointed interface is hard to navigate

  • No desktop or mobile client (web access only)

  • Lacks support for social sharing

Google Music web interface

Google Music is a web-based music and podcast streaming service launched in 2011 by Google. It offers 40 million songs you can stream or organize into hundreds of playlists. It supports higher bit .wav files and integrates seamlessly with Google devices, including Google Home.

One outstanding feature of Google Music is the ability to upload 50,000 of your own songs to your library. This lets you seamlessly integrate your own music with the Google music catalog without taking up any space on your device. For users who have a lot of music stored on their hard drive, this a great way to centralize your music and playlists. Google Music is compatible with variety of devices, including Android, iPhone, Google Home, and Chromecast.

You can purchase a single or family Google Music subscription or get it for free by subscribing to YouTube Premium, a subscription service that eliminates ads entirely, and features original programming from the top YouTube channels. With YouTube Premium, you don't need to pay for Google Music separately.

In an effort to streamline their offerings, Google Music will eventually be replaced by YouTube Music. For now, this won't affect your Google Music subscription.

What Is Spotify?

What We Like

  • Beautifully designed interface provides a seamless user experience

  • Crossfade tracks feature blends one song into another (good for DJing)

  • Has both client apps and web player options

What We Don't Like

  • No support wav files or EQ settings

  • Less space for uploading your own music

  • Certain features are only available in Spotify Premium

Spotify app interface

Spotify is a smartly-designed and social sharing-driven music subscription service that's been around since 2008. The service offers 40 million songs and podcasts, three billion-plus user-created playlists, and features smart algorithms that "learn" your taste in music.

Spotify is known for its sleek standalone desktop and mobile apps (and web player) which provide a streamlined user experience. With Spotify, you can follow your favorite artists, share music using collaborative playlists, and see what your friends are listening to. In addition, Spotify's Discover Weekly playlist and Made for You mixes are a great way to find new artists; for example, a Swedish version of your favorite female vocalist.

On the down side, audio quality with Spotify isn't fantastic. The service doesn't support wav files or uncompressed audio, and it has a smaller library for uploading your own music. That said, if you're subscribing mainly to discover new music or to stream popular tracks, this probably won't matter too much.

Google Play Music vs. Spotify Feature Comparison

Google Play Music and Spotify both have positive and negative qualities. They are both streaming music services, but but each has unique features that will appeal to different listeners. Here's a quick look at some of the most important features of each of these music streaming services.

  Google Music Spotify
Catalog 40 million songs and podcasts 40 million songs and podcasts
Interface Web player only Desktop, mobile, and tablet apps; web player
Discoverability Limited Discover Weekly playlist feature 
Social sharing Limited Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Stories integration; collaborative and sharable playlists
Library uploads 50,000 songs 10,000 songs
Devices supported Computers, smartphones (Android, iPhone), iPad, iPod Touch, Google Home, Google smartwatch, Chromecast Computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs, smartwatches, speakers, game consoles, car
Users per account 6 users (10 devices each) 6 users (3 devices each)
Free trial Yes (30 days) Yes (3 months)
Price $9.99/month (single)
$14.99/month (family)
Or, cost is free with YouTube Premium subscription
$9.99/month (single)
$14.99/month (family)
$4.99/month (student, includes Hulu and Showtime)

Should You Subscribe to Google Music or Spotify?

The answer to this question boils down to your personal preferences. If you're a fan of Google services, or you like to curate your own music and playlists—Google Play may give you more options for organizing and listening to your own music. You also get Google Music for free if you subscribe to YouTube Premium.

On the other hand, if you like to discover new artists and share these discoveries with your friends (and vice versa)—Spotify may be your ticket to a wider and more diverse listening experience. With collaborative playlists, social platform integration, and the Crossfade tracks feature for DJing parties and get-togethers, Spotify is great on the social side of things. Spotify's apps are intuitive and user-friendly, and most people will find them easier to use than Google Music's web-based interface.

In terms of pricing, both services offer a single account for $9.99, and a family account for $14.99. Google Music offers a free 30-day trial, while Spotify has a more generous three-month Premium trial. Spotify also has a free mobile service, but it has limited functionality and comes with ads.

If you're undecided about which service is best for you, the good news is you can try both services at no-risk.