Google has spent the last few years pushing the Play Music platform as its streaming alternative to Spotify and Apple Music. However, a lot of people still get their tunes from YouTube, so Google is giving them what they want. It has announced a new streaming platform called YouTube Music, along with an ad-free video service called YouTube Premium. These both replace existing Google products, and Play Music isn’t even going away. Yeah, it’s pretty confusing.
YouTube Music will launch — or rather relaunch — next week. At that time, you’ll be able to listen to music and watch music videos for free with ads. The premium version of YouTube Music will run you $9.99 just like Play Music. The current YouTube Music app will get an overhaul to support the new music features. It’ll have playlists, suggested tracks, official artist pages, and more.
The advantage of building a music service around YouTube is that it has content that other services don’t have. Artists and labels often upload remixes, concert videos, and more to YouTube. YouTube is also a brand that people associate with music, which was not true of Play Music.
YouTube Premium is connected with YouTube Music in an odd way. For $11.99 per month, you get ad-free YouTube, access to original content, downloads, and background play. This is the new name for YouTube Red. However, you can’t get it separately from YouTube Music. It’s just a $2 monthly premium on top of the music subscription. So, you are forced to subscribe to Google’s music service if you want ad-free YouTube.
Another layer of complication is that Google Play Music still exists. According to Google’s blog post, nothing is changing there. You can still stream music in Play Music, and those subscriptions continue to include YouTube Red (soon to be YouTube Premium). The opposite is also true — Red subscribers will keep paying $10 per month for ad-free YouTube and Play Music. Subscribers to Play Music will also get a YouTube Music premium subscription. That makes those grandfathered plans a terrific deal.
It’s possible that Google will eventually sunset Play Music, but YouTube Music still lacks some features users have come to expect. For instance, Play Music lets you upload your personal MP3 collection and listen to it free. Users will be quite upset if that feature is discontinued without a replacement in YouTube Music.
Google says the new YouTube products will roll out in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and South Korea this coming Tuesday. Other countries like Canada, the UK, and Germany will come in a few weeks.
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