The world of music streaming is deep, with a few different massive players to choose from. A new player is entering the scene, and things may have just gotten more divisive than ever.
YouTube Music will launch in the U.S. on May 22 and come to Canada this year as well. It is a new streaming service powered by the mega-popular video site and it will focus on personalization and music discovery. It will run for a similar price as other services at $9.99 per month with a free ad-supported version as well.
“The days of jumping back and forth between multiple music apps and YouTube are over,” reads a blog post announcing the service. “Whether you want to listen, watch or discover, it’s all here. YouTube Music is a new music streaming service made for music: official songs, albums, thousands of playlists and artist radio plus YouTube’s tremendous catalog of remixes, live performances, covers and music videos that you can’t find anywhere else—all simply organized and personalized.”
The new service will take shape as a reimagined mobile app and a brand new desktop player. When it launches, it will boast thousands of playlists and artist radio stations as well as millions of songs and albums. On top of all this will be the music videos YouTube has become a destination for.
One thing YouTube Music may have over similar streaming services will be access to very deep cuts, demos, remixes and live versions that can only be found on the video platform right now. It will also have access to parent company Google’s deep research into machine learning and voice recognition—for example, you can find the Peter, Bjorn and John song “Young Folks” by searching for “that hipster song with whistling.” Users can also search by lyrics.
The major factors YouTube Music will have to excel in is personalization. The service is promising a dynamic home screen that adjusts based on recommendations and even where they are location-wise. If someone is at the airport, they may see relaxing music. If they’re at the gym, they could see some pump-up beats.
The paid subscription will offer background listening (sing the praises, iPhone users), downloads and no ads. Google Play Music subscribers will have access to YouTube Music for free, and nothing will change in terms of purchased music or saved playlists/uploads.
On top of that, YouTube will roll out their Premium service as well, which is the new name for their Red offering. It will give users access to download videos and view YouTube originals, all for an extra $2 a month, bringing the subscription cost to $11.99.
YouTube Music has an uphill battle ahead of them. Spotify has over 75 million paying users, while Apple Music has over 40 million. The promise of a combined Google and YouTube music service is enticing, but it will take time to draw in other paying users.
“There is plenty of opportunity for many players to be successful,” YouTube’s global head of music Lyor Cohen told Rolling Stone. “We want to demonstrate that not only are we really good in advertising—we’re the best in advertising – that we could also convert many of those that are in our ecosystem to a subscription service if they want it. When you look at the data, even though we are late to the party, it’s a nascent category still. A lot more people are going to decide to get a music subscription service.