YouTube Music has some really cool features, but are they enough to displace other music services, even Google’s own Google Play Music?
Alongside their announcement of new subscription service YouTube Red, YouTube unveiled their latest app in the mold of YouTube Kids and YouTube Gaming: YouTube Music. The app will provide a slice of some of YouTube’s most popular content, merging top music videos, songs, and live recordings with the inevitable parodies, remixes, and covers created by the YouTube community. YouTube declined to give a release date for YouTube Music, but did say it would be released by the end of the year.
The decision to focus on the intersection between popular music and fan content was born out the question of “how do we create something that’s uniquely YouTube,” according to Product Management Director Manuel Bronstein. The new app will function separately from the Google Play music service, which will continue to be at least part of Google’s answer to competitors like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music, but YouTube Music will have a number of similar features.
Whether YouTube Music is better than the other music services will likely depend on what you want from an app. Like most of its competitors, there’s a focus on new music discovery via radio station-style playlists, but YouTube Music is putting a new spin on it with a toggle for how far afield users want the app to reach. And because the app is pulling music from YouTube only, this will, as mentioned, include covers and remixes with high views. YouTube didn’t go into exactly how the YouTube Music app will decide what videos/songs are worth adding to playlists (because we all know just how bad some of the covers out there are – even if they are pretty funny), but the idea of “new music discovery,” including a personal favorites list that will help the app serve up new artists, was at the center of Youtube’s presentation.
Of course, like the free versions of other services, YouTube Music will be ad-supported – unless you have a YouTube Red subscription, which makes all of YouTube ad-free. Downloading the app WILL give you a free 14 day trial of YouTube Red, which includes the ability to download playlists via YouTube Red’s offline mode.
The YouTube Music app will also have a seamless toggle between audio only and video versions of each song it serves, meaning it can be used as a music player only and use up less data on mobile devices but switch back to video without pausing or disrupting the song.
Much like YouTube Red (not to mention the YouTube Gaming app that’s Music’s more direct predecessor), whether the YouTube Music is exciting to you will depend a lot on your personal taste and habits. If you’re just in it for the brand-new studio-recorded tracks from top artists, the answer to the question, “Is YouTube Music better than competing services?” is probably “No.” (Although we’d like to reserve judgment until we get some hands-on time with the app.) On the other hand, if remixes and covers are your game and you’re already using YouTube to find the best of them, YouTube Music might be exactly what you’ve been waiting for, and a top alternative to other music services.