YouTube Premium vs YouTube Music Premium: What's the Difference?

Here's the low-down on YouTube's main streaming services

As Google folds much of its content into the YouTube brand, YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium have become important services. As such, it's important to understand the sometimes nuanced differences between the available streaming services. In the below sections we'll compare them to help you make a decision between the two.

YouTube Premium vs YouTube Music

Overall Findings

YouTube Premium
  • No ads in YouTube content.

  • Background play for videos.

  • Includes existing original video content.

YouTube Music Premium
  • Represents a broad music catalog.

  • Optionally showsYouTube music videos.

  • Offline play for music.

  • Ad-free.

The easiest way to summarize the difference between these two services is as follows: YouTube Premium combines the benefits of YouTube Music Premium with additional video features. They're not really competing services in the sense you're deciding between them.

Rather there are two big decisions that will affect your choice. The first is whether you're a big YouTube video watcher, and how important that is to you, as YouTube Music Premium is... well, just music. The second is if you have children, as YouTube Premium has features to protect your kids.

Content: YouTube Music Premium Has Music Videos, YouTube Premium Has Even More

YouTube Premium
  • User-generated and original videos.

  • However, originals now also ad-supported.

  • Purchases and rentals not included.

YouTube Music Premium
  • Expansive Music Selection.

  • Optionally shows corresponding music videos.

  • Unlike some competitors, music only.

YouTube started as a video company, so naturally the "umbrella" service includes this type of content. And not just the user-generated content for which YouTube became famous either. The company does produce some original content, although they've recently reduced their investment in this. In addition, this original content was previously exclusive to the premium service, but is now available for free, albeit with ads.

On the other hand, YouTube Music Premium just streams music, though it includes a broad catalog. In this respect it's comparable other music streaming services. YouTube Music optionally plays music videos while playing their corresponding songs, but only when they're available.

Benefits: Both Ad-Free & Available for Download, But YouTube Premium Also Protects Kids

YouTube Premium
  • Ad-free videos and music.

  • Downloadable videos and music.

  • Benefits extend to YouTube Kids service.

YouTube Music Premium
  • Ad-free music.

  • Downloadable music.

  • Music discovery and recommendations.

Bearing in mind that YouTube Music Premium is music only, the two services share many of the same benefits compared to their free counterparts. Specifically, you can consume content without listening to ads, and you can download videos/songs for use when you don't have a network connection. To a certain extent, it depends on whether YouTube's recommendations suit your tastes better or worse than other services.

Beyond these main features, there are two additional perks YouTube Premium offers. The first is YouTube Kids, an app ensures the videos children watch are kid-friendly. The second is background play for videos, allowing the sound for videos to continue playing even when you switch to another app.

Cost: The 'Upgrade' to YouTube Premium Is a No-Brainer for Most

YouTube Premium
  • Originals were exclusively Premium in the past.

  • Family discount rate available.

  • Not bundled with YouTube TV.

YouTube Music Premium
  • Comparable to segment leader Spotify.

  • Family discount rate available.

  • Effectively bundled with YouTube Premium.

The price for YouTube Music Premium is $9.99 per month following a one-month free trial, or $14.99/month for up to 5 household members. This is on par with competing service Spotify, while Amazon's offering is slightly cheaper at $7.99/month. These prices provide access to similarly-sized music catalogs, though Spotify for example also includes podcasts.

In contrast, YouTube Premium costs $11.99 per month ($17.99 for families). On the surface it seems to be a comparable rate until you consider that this cost also includes all the same benefits as YouTube Music Premium. In essence, even if you're interested primarily in the music, you can also enjoy all the video-related benefits of YouTube Premium for just an additional two to three dollars a month.

Final Verdict

Unless you have some very special circumstances, you should definitely go for YouTube Premium. If you're very sensitive to price and are truly only interested in music, then getting just YouTube Music Premium will save you enough for an extra coffee each month.

But since it includes everything everything YouTube Music Premium offers, the value over and above that service for just a couple dollars a month makes it a no-brainer. This is especially true if you're someone to travels often (you can download videos for offline viewing) or have children (YouTube Kids keeps them safe from dubious YouTube videos).