YouTube Music vs Spotify vs Apple Music: Which Should you Pay for in Kenya?

Shot of a young businessman using a smartphone and headphones in the city

In the digital age, music streaming services have become an integral part of our daily lives, offering a vast library of songs at our fingertips. In Kenya, three major players dominate the market: Boomplay, Spotify, and Apple Music.

The recent launch of YouTube Music in Kenya throws a new curve to this dynamic and we yet again find ourselves asking the age-old question, which platform should you pay for?

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Choosing the right music streaming service involves considering various factors such as price, music library, standout features, sound quality, community/social factor, user experience, and platform availability. In this blog post, I will delve deep into these aspects to help you make an informed decision.


In these economic times, price is a crucial factor in determining which music streaming service to subscribe to. Spotify and YouTube Music, with their free ad-supported version, provide an accessible entry point for users, albeit with some serious shortcomings and limitations.

Here are the current rates in late 2023 with the United States Dollar exchanging for 153.25 Kenyan Shilling.

YouTube Music209419669
Apple Music305.39503.67842.74

Spotify remains the budget-friendly option cheaper plans across the board. The inclusion of the Duo plan along with the free tier means that it is more accessible and caters to more and more users. Apple Music, on the other hand, does not have a fixed monthly subscription fee as it is pegged on the dollar. With the current exchange rate, this is the most expensive service to have.

Also worth noting is that the family plan is reasonably priced for all platforms for multiple users, making it cost-effective for households, or even a group of friends.

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Community/Social Factor

The social aspect of music streaming services can enhance the overall experience. Spotify allows users to share playlists, see what friends are listening to, and collaborate on playlists, creating a more engaging and communal atmosphere.

Having a streaming service that many of your friends use makes the experience more enjoyable, facilitating easy sharing of links and creating a shared musical space.

Consider how important the social aspect is to you, whether you prefer sharing playlists with friends, discovering new music through social connections, or participating in a broader online music community.

A November 2023 survey shows that YouTube dominates music streaming sites. The survey showed that over 30 percent of young Kenyans aged between 18 and 24 years utilized YouTube streaming compared to Spotify. Boomplay followed Spotify while Apple Music came at a distant 6th place.

Music Library

The size and diversity of a music library are pivotal in assessing the value of a streaming service. YouTube Music benefits from its association with YouTube, providing a vast collection of official tracks, user-generated content, and unique covers. Spotify, renowned for its extensive library, excels in curated playlists, podcasts, and exclusive content.

Apple Music, backed by the iTunes catalog, offers a comprehensive selection of songs, albums, and exclusive releases.

Your preferred genre and artist availability should guide your decision. It’s worth exploring each platform’s library to ensure your favorite tracks are readily available. But in terms of volume, all these platforms boast of tens of millions of tracks.

Standout Features

Each music streaming service offers unique features that set them apart. YouTube Music integrates seamlessly with the broader YouTube platform, allowing users to switch between music and video content effortlessly.

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Spotify is known for its personalized playlists, algorithm-driven recommendations, and collaborative playlists, fostering a dynamic and engaging user experience.

Apple Music stands out with its exclusive artist interviews, live radio stations, and integration with the Apple ecosystem.

Spotify’s inclusion of audiobooks and podcasts adds another layer to its appeal, offering a diverse range of content beyond music. YouTube Music leverages YouTube’s massive library of videos and concerts, and with the integration of podcasts from Google Podcasts, it provides a comprehensive audiovisual experience. Apple Music, known for its beautiful UI, features synced lyrics, enhancing the visual element of the music listening experience.

Depending on what exactly appeals to you, you know what to pay for.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is a critical aspect, especially for audiophiles and those with high-end audio equipment. YouTube Music and Spotify offer different quality settings for streaming, while Apple Music consistently provides high-quality audio with lossless. Factors such as bit rate and codec may influence the perceived sound quality.

Evaluate your audio preferences, the devices you use, and the quality of your headphones or speakers to determine which streaming service aligns with your audio expectations.

  • Apple Music: Apple Music streams content at 256kbps utilizing the AAC audio format. Recently, Apple Music has also introduced high-resolution streaming options at no extra cost, which allows you to stream 16-bit/44.1kHz, 24-bit/48kHz, and 24-bit/192kHz audio and use Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos content.
  • Spotify: Spotify streams audio using the open-source Ogg Vorbis codec at up to 320kbps for Spotify Premium users, and up to 160kbps for people with a free account.
  • YouTube Music: YouTube Music streams content at a maximum bitrate of 256kbps utilizing the AAC or OPUS audio format.

However, for the regular, casual listener, any of these platforms offer adequate sound quality and with normal TWS or earphones, you’ll be hard-pressed to hear the difference.

User Experience and Platform Availability

The user experience and platform availability are critical considerations for seamless integration into your daily life. Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music offer user-friendly interfaces, making navigation and music discovery enjoyable. However, the availability of these platforms across different operating systems is worth noting.

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Spotify is known for its wide availability, supporting Android, iOS, and Windows, ensuring accessibility across various devices. YouTube Music and Apple Music also provide apps for Android and iOS, but Apple Music has limited availability on Windows devices compared to the other two. Luckily, this can be expanded via unofficial apps.


Choosing the right music streaming service in Kenya involves weighing various factors such as price, music library, standout features, sound quality, community/social factor, user experience, and platform availability. Each service has its strengths and caters to different preferences. Whether you prioritize a vast music library, personalized recommendations, exclusive content, or social engagement, carefully assessing these aspects will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your musical tastes and lifestyle.


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