As if the digital music streaming market wasn’t already saturated enough, Google decided to take advantage of the content they have available on YouTube and offer it as a streaming service named as the discernible “YouTube Music”.
We also recently had a shootout of the top music streaming apps (which Play Music came first in) and nowadays it’s just a matter of a few months until we see a new competitor take stage.
How does YouTube Music stack up, and is it really necessary when you look at the bigger picture?
You begin by selecting a Google account – if you have more then one on your phone – to sign in with. I’d suggest you use the one you usually use for YouTube as it will take any previously liked songs from that account and begin offering you a playlist based on that.
Included in the package was a 14-day trial of YouTube Red, the premium version of the service. Red is implemented into both YouTube and YouTube Music and gives you access to substantially more features compared to the standard tiers.
Once you’ve signed in, you’re free to run amok and listen to whatever fancies you.
Settings wise, there isn’t much other then the typical “HD streaming only on Wi-Fi” and captions customization.
YouTube Music Usage
The first two weeks of using YouTube Music was mostly a charm. Within the first few days, the app became accustomed to my type of music, along with all my favorite bands and artists. Like I previously mentioned, it actually took songs from my “liked” playlist and began suggesting titles based on that, meaning I wasn’t stranded and had to start off new. YouTube also has the largest catalog of music in the world, meaning you can listen to any local artists who don’t feature on other services.
The user interface was well designed and there weren’t any confusing ‘deeply-hidden’ areas that are common in such apps. The search was very accurate and always displays relevant results, suggesting direct links to the artist page, as well as tracks that you may like further down. This is where YouTube Music has an advantage over the competitors: they have a mass library of almost every song, artist and even that remix that your local DJ concocted last week. In short, you can have any track you desire.
But on the 15th day, the fun was over. Without a valid Red subscription, the idea of YouTube Music becomes silly and foolish. For one, you cannot leave the Music app (or switch the screen off) and carry on listening at the same time. Not one other competitor that I know of has this sub-standard “feature”. Am I supposed to stare at the album art for four minutes while I cannot functionally use my phone? No, actually, I’m forced to play the music video as audio-only as a perk for Red subscribers, consequently stacking up higher data usage and wasting battery on the screen.
And just to rub it in your face, Google had the dignity to show pop-ups every time you try to access premium features, instead of removing any traces of it altogether, something along the lines of this:
And the worst part? The infamous adverts. Sure, adverts are a necessary evil pivotal to the financial stability of any company. But if you’re not a Red subscriber, prepare to have your ears blasted with minute-long ads that interrupt every few songs. You know how adverts are always louder than the movie on television? Same thing applies here, to the extent that you cannot relax, instead anticipating when the next “Troye Sivan” or “Hello” advert is going to blow your ear drum out. If I’m not correct, one of the purposes of music is to help you relax. In essence, YouTube Music without Red is the anti-music experience.
[blockquote author=””] Am I supposed to stare at the album art for four minutes while I cannot functionally use my phone?[/blockquote]
3.5 out of 5
When you take into consideration that Google already has Google Play Music as a streaming service, the whole idea of YouTube Music becomes blurry. Why couldn’t they incorporate this into their existing service? The answer to that becomes clear when you look at Red. Simply put, it’s another gateway for Google to make some more dollars.
I’m not asking for the premium streaming experience for free. But offering a sub-standard service while advertising Red in my face is a clear indication of what’s happening here.
Shame on you, Google.
I actually subscribe to the Google Play Music. As an added bonus, Google has included a subscription to YouTube Red. Which means for the price of $9.99 I get access to three separate services. I actually prefer using YouTube Music to the Google Play Music app and I’ll explain why. While Google Play Music has a decent selection of music, there are some artists and labels that have yet to reach this particular market, and this is true for any streaming music service that I’ve used. With that being said, I have yet to meet an artist or label that has excluded their official video or a cut of their song to be uploaded onto YouTube. Essentially this means that my listening selection increased to include exclusives that no other music streaming service has access to. This fact alone makes the service a must have for me. Plus the fact that it’s included under the umbrella of the Google Play Music subscription just makes more sense to me than paying the same price for YouTube Red alone or for any of the other services that all, for the most part, charge a similar price for their streaming music.
Thanks for your comment. So as long as you subscribe to Play Music, you have access to Red?
I have been a subscriber to Play Music since it was introduced. When they added downloading videos to the YouTube app this summer I was able to do that with my subscription. They notified me by email and with a prompt within the YouTube app itself. And when they launched YouTube Red and Music I got an email that it was added to my account as part of my subscription. And the cost of the subscription hasn’t changed.
After some research I found the answer. If you subscribe to either service you get the other included. You can find more information on the YouTube Red info page at the bottom under the header “How does the included Google Play Music subscription work?”
Jason please don’t forget Google made this service to be able to have a more broad library of music. When the service was in the works their goals were to have music for artists that don’t offer music on streaming services (as you mentioned) and the possibility of enjoying song remixes which YouTube has plenty of. Remixes are scarce in Play Music and this service shines at that.
I’m sure you’re a perfectly capable journalist, but, if you’ll accept some (what I hope is) constructive criticism, it feels like you didn’t really do your due diligence in researching for this piece. The article itself is well written, but overlooking the fact that Play Music and YouTube subscriptions are bundled together (something I found out by simply looking at the YouTube red subscription page) is a fundamental error that really renders the entire article off-point. It’s not that YouTube music is useless, Google is cannibalizing it’s own business or trying to squeeze more money out of users. It’s Google taking an already perfectly adequate on-demand streaming service, comparable to the spotifys and Apple Musics of the world, and adding to that something that none of these other companies can duplicate. A collection of music and video content that the users have (and continue to) so graciously feed Google, which can be turned around and harnessed to make Google’s subscription service even more enticing. It’s not double dipping; it’s Google using their ace in the hole to make their subscription-based music streaming service stand out above the rest in the already-supersaturated mixture of subscription-based music streaming services.
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