As if the streaming-music world wasn't complicated enough, Google on Wednesday announced a new product called YouTube Music. So what is this new service and how does it compare with others? We break it down for you here:
What is YouTube Music? YouTube Music is a new app from Google that lets you specifically search for music on the site. That means you get more focused results — a search for "Prince," for example, won't bring up videos about royalty. Well, not of the non-musical variety, anyway.
The app will also suggest other songs that you may like, based on your preferences.
Doesn't YouTube already have a music service? You may remember that YouTube previously launched a service called YouTube Music Key, which was in an open beta, and seems to have been discontinued in light of the new service. Head to the Music Key site now and you will see this message: "We're no longer taking new sign ups for the beta. But keep your ear to the internet because there's a lot in store for music fans on YouTube." One can only assume that means Music.
Or you may be thinking of Google Play Music, Google's non-YouTube music service, which works through its Play app store and gives you access to curated playlists. This service is designed to work with YouTube Music; in fact, a subscription to one gets you access to both.
Wait, did you just say subscription? What will this cost me? And how does this work with YouTube's new subscription service, YouTube Red? Subscribing to YouTube Red, Google's new ad-free subscription service, will get you access to ad-free versions of YouTube, YouTube Gaming and YouTube Music, plus Google Play Music. That will cost you $10 per month if you're an Android user and $13 per month if you're on iOS.
You will be able to use the YouTube Music app for free, but those who don't pay will still see ads and not have access to some of the more advanced features.
How does this stack up against other services? You could always listen to YouTube, with ads, for free, so why would you pay for that? There are a few perks that may convince you. For one, you no longer have to leave the soundtrack of your day up to the whim of the auto-play algorithm or take the time to actually make your own playlists. Plus, on mobile, you couldn't just keep it running in the background — if you wanted to listen to YouTube, that was all you were going to do.
YouTube Music fixes all of these problems. Paid users can choose to make videos audio-only; like videos to save them offline for later; and being able to limit the auto-play to only music makes the service much more like similarly priced subscriptions to Pandora or Internet "radio" offerings from Apple, Amazon and Spotify.
Plus, YouTube can offer what others cannot: a wider variety of content. That's not a reference to the number of artists, but rather the type of video you can watch. YouTube is filled with covers of songs, videos of concerts and other clips that just don't make it into the catalogues of other services. If you want only clean, high-quality recordings, then you may be more interested in spending your money on other services, but YouTube has got a unique kind of variety that makes it stand out.
Can I download it now? Not yet. You will have to wait a little while. Although YouTube Red will launch next Thursday, the Music portion of it is scheduled to be out only by the end of the year.