Does YouTube Music Use A Lot Of Data? The Truth Revealed

YouTube Music rubs shoulders with Tidal, Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify, and an ever-growing list of music streaming services. The app feels like you are browsing YouTube and offers free and premium memberships, even though it is actually a music streaming service. Ah, the familiarity!

Nevertheless, this ever-growing list of streaming options makes it hard to conserve our data allowance. People with limited data plans tend to look for ways to conserve their data usage as much as possible.

Does YouTube Music use data?

YouTube Music uses data for both audio and video streaming. The exact amount of data usage on your mobile depends on the quality of the stream. The audio portion (song mode) of the mobile app can consume between 43 to 115 megabytes per hour based on the data rate or bit rate.

We have already discussed on the blog if the data consumption of Apple Music and if Spotify Premium is worth it.

It is time to decrypt how much cellular data the YouTube Music app uses for audio and video streaming on mobile phones.

In this article, we will tackle how to save mobile data while using the YouTube Music App.

Read on to find out how to get the most out of the streaming service.

How much data can YouTube music consume?

Using the video mode in YouTube Music will significantly increase data consumption. Data usage for streaming videos in the app is the same as streaming videos on YouTube and only varies based on the video quality, labeled as fps or frames per second.

Users can access the app using cellular data or Wi-Fi, and the app allows you to switch to a ‘Wi-Fi Only’ mode. Concisely, YouTube Music has three audio settings – Low (48 kbps), Normal (128 kbps), and High (256 kbps).

Free users can listen to music with Low and Normal settings while High is only for premium members. You can select the bit rate in the ‘Settings’ tab from the app on your mobile. As a rule of thumb, a higher data rate (audio quality) results in more data consumption.

Videos on YouTube Music have a full range of fps options with a frame rate of 30 and 60 which is significantly better than other video streaming apps. Nevertheless, streaming videos consumes more data compared to ‘audio only’ streaming in song mode or background play.

With the video quality set to 144p 30 fps, you can consume 30 to 80 megabytes per hour. At 1440p 30-60 fps, it can be as much as 4 to 8 gigabytes per hour. Due to the high data usage, many free and premium users only stream video content when connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Does YouTube music use more data than Spotify?

YouTube Music uses slightly less data than Spotify. This is primarily because it has lower Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) bit rates and does not offer Hi-Res Audio. The exact amount of data used by either streaming service depends on the membership (Free or Premium) and audio settings in the app.

Spotify has four audio settings for the free version – Automatic, Low (25 kbps), Normal (96 kbps), and High (160 kbps). Spotify Premium users can select ‘Very High’ to stream music at a bit rate of 320 kbps. They also plan to launch a ‘HiFi’ option later this year to rival the services offered by Amazon Music and Tidal. HiFi allows users to stream lossless, CD-quality music.

YouTube Music offers three-bit rates. Free users can stream music at Low (48 kbps) and Normal (128 kbps). Premium members get an additional option to stream music with High Quality at a bit rate of 256 kbps. Both apps lower audio quality settings when you have a poor connection.

So, there is a marked difference in the quality.

Spotify’s max streaming quality is 160 kbps for free users and YouTube Music is capped at 128 kbps for free users. Spotify Premium users can stream at 320 kbps, and YouTube Music Premium users can stream at 256 kbps.

For those reasons, streaming on YouTube Music generally consumes less data than streaming music on Spotify. However, there are several ways to use music streaming apps without consuming cellular data, which we will discuss in the next section.

Can you use YouTube music without data?

You can listen to YouTube Music without data by downloading songs, albums, and playlists to your device when connected to a Wi-Fi network. Enter ‘Offline Mode’ and listen to these songs without using data. The download feature is only available to YouTube Music Premium members.

Free users cannot listen to YouTube music without using cellular data.

To download songs, tap the cover art of a song on the watch page. Tap the downward-facing arrow to download the song. Alternatively, you can tap the Menu icon (3 vertical dots) and tap “Download.” YouTube Music also has a ‘Smart Download’ feature.

Enabling ‘Smart Download’ allows the app to automatically download songs, based on your listening history. You can enable or disable this feature from Profile > Settings > Downloads > Settings > “Smart Downloads” in the YouTube Music app.

Either way, you need the requisite storage space on your mobile device to download content. Additionally, you need to have an active subscription and log in once in 30 days for the app to connect to the YouTube servers. Failure to do so will erase all your downloaded music.

Take a look at this Youtube video on how to listen offline with Youtube Music.

How to use YouTube Music offline listening on an iPhone or iPad?

You can enjoy offline listening by manually downloading tracks or using the ‘Download an offline mixtape’ feature. ‘Download an offline mixtape’ is essentially the same feature as ‘Smart Downloads’ found on Android devices.

Here is how you can enable it on an iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open the app on your device.
  2. Tap the profile picture in the app.
  3. Tap the first tab – ‘Downloads.’
  4. Tap the gear icon in the Downloads tab.
  5. Turn on ‘Download an Offline Mixtape.’

How to save data on YouTube Music (4 Tips for Free and Premium Users)

You can save data on YouTube music by selecting ‘limit mobile data usage’ or ‘Stream via Wi-Fi only.’ These two features can make an enormous difference in your mobile data usage, saving a whole lot in a limited plan. Both features are available to free and Premium users.

Let’s discuss the aforementioned options in more detail:

#1 Download Tracks for Offline Listening

Offline downloads ensure you have your favorite songs at your disposal when you do not have an internet connection (even Wi-Fi). You can do this manually by downloading tracks, albums, or playlists. We have discussed the option at length in the previous sections.

#2 Use a Wi-Fi Only Mode for streaming

As with other streaming apps, YouTube Music has a feature to only stream when connected to a Wi-Fi network. You can save precious cellular data by selecting the Wi-Fi-only mode. Go to the menu in the app, select ‘Settings,’ and tap ‘Stream via Wi-Fi only.’

#3 Stream music in non-HD quality

Streaming in HD quality – as you can imagine – consumes a lot more data. Go to the settings and switch to non-HD quality settings by selecting ‘Limit Mobile data usage.’ Now the app will only stream HD videos when connected to a Wi-Fi network.

#4 Save data by using ‘Song Mode’

You get the option to listen to an audio or video/audio version when you select a song in the YouTube Music app. You will see two options on the top of the screen – Song Mode or Video Mode. Tap song mode to stop playing videos and listen to the audio.

Alternatively, Premium users can switch to song mode permanently. Open the app and tap on your profile picture. Go to ‘Settings’ and tap ‘Don’t Play Music Videos’ to toggle it on. The app is now in song-only mode and will only stream the audio.

Save mobile data with YouTube Music Premium

If you are willing to spend $9.99 per month, consider upgrading to YouTube Premium. The membership gives you access to the ad-free versionYouTube Music Premium. Moreover, you also get the option of streaming audio without the video.

Free users can access the vast catalog just as well. However, the audio quality tops out at 128 kbps on mobile. Plus, you cannot use background play (when the screen is locked) or download audio and videos for offline listening.

Background play can save a lot of data because you do not have to stream videos. That, combined with downloading tracks on Wi-Fi, is your best bet at saving mobile data. So, it may be worth coughing up a monthly fee of $9.99 to save mobile data.


YouTube Music has held its own against different streaming apps in the market. It is a great option for listening to live-stream concerts, unofficial tracks, and easy access to local files.

We hope this article has helped you understand how the app consumes data and what you can do to prevent it from fattening up your monthly bill. Before you go, you can learn how to level up your music listening experience with our article on how to sync LED lights to music .

This video helps you to get the best out of YouTube Music

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