YouTube Music

For those of you who’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed YouTube sneakily priming itself as a music service for a couple of years now. They’ve been adding music in a standard format and scraping music from record labels instead of waiting for official music video releases or its users to upload them. Combined with the YouTube Red effort to create a paywall, it was pretty clear where Google was trying to go with YouTube

So it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise when YouTube announced the coming launch of YouTube Music a few weeks ago. And now, it’s starting to roll out first access to some users. So as it begins its launch, what can you expect from YouTube Music?

Is it a Spotify killer?

That’s certainly what Google intends. It’s interface, both on mobile and web, look remarkably similar based on screen captures they’ve already released. They’re looking to incorporate the playlists and videos that are now a big part of the YouTube service as well as a catalog of music like other services.

YouTube Music mobile app

However, there will not be a free tier. YouTube Music will start at $9.99/month. So it’s more accurate to say, pricing-wise, they’re looking to replicate the Apple Music model, which, depending on who you ask, may be more profitable.

Also, RIP SoundCloud’s paid tier.

Google Play Music is dead.

Do you have a Google Play Music account? I’m not an Android user, but I’ve heard that they’re somewhat more prevalent for Android users. But if you do, you’re probably among the first who will get a chance to see YouTube Music. That’s because your old service is dead.

Don’t worry, all your purchases will still be there. But, to be honest, I’m not sure how that’ll work if you opt not to pay for the YouTube Music subscription. I’m sure you’ll be fine. Technology companies have never let down legacy users when launching a new product before. Right?

What happens to YouTube Red?

YouTube Red isn’t dead, but the name is. It now becomes YouTube Premium, which is an $11.99/month service. With YouTube Premium, you’ll keep all of the old YouTube Red services, and you’ll also get full access to YouTube Music. But you can’t get YouTube Red without YouTube Music anymore, so it may be more accurate to say you are forced to have full access to YouTube Music. So if you really want YouTube Red, maybe it’s also time to cancel your Spotify/Apple Music.

Oh wait. That’s the diabolical plan, isn’t it?

YouTube music web player

It’s all about the AI.

If you’re not a Google Play Music or a YouTube Red loyalist, what’s Google betting on to get you to switch? Google is betting that they have a more powerful AI and prediction algorithm to really deliver you the music you want better than Apple or Spotify can. Google claims it can even go as far as asking it to find “that hipster song with the whistling” or just searching some song lyrics.

And while Google certainly has a lot of data on you, probably more than Spotify, can it do better specifically in music? That’s really where YouTube Music will either succeed or fail.