YouTube surprised the world with YouTube Red - a $10 subscription that would allow you to use YouTube ad-free, watch certain exclusive content and… use YouTube as a music streaming service. With YouTube Red comes YouTube Music, a new dedicated app that’ll allow you to access the staggeringly huge library of music videos on YouTube.
YouTube Music is only available in the US for now (but I use it here in India, ask me how in the comments/on Facebook) over a free 14 day YouTube Red trial. The service itself is freemium - you only pay if you want to remove ads, use the audio-only mode and download the music, otherwise you can use it without the above features for free.
Before actually reviewing it, let me talk a little bit about the app itself. The Music app looks very similarly developed to the normal YouTube app. There are three main sections - home, trending/hot and liked. The Home is where you’ll find personalised recommendations and related songs to the once you’ve already heard. There is also the personalised mixtape which plays all the recommended songs in a random order for as long as you want, really pulling from the depths of YouTube. The Trending/Hot tab, will, as its name suggests, display currently popular tacks on YouTube and a top 40 playlist of the day. The Liked tab is the least glorious one, just listing all the music videos you’ve liked.
Now, what really differentiates YouTube Music from all its greatest competitors like Spotify and Apple Music is the very library of music itself. Spotify and Apple Music will provide great original tracks from popular artists. YouTube Music adds to this - by enabling users to listen to the huge library of remixes, live concerts and of course, discover new/young artists you won’t find on the popular music streaming services. This is perhaps the biggest selling point for YouTube Music. By going beyond the regular original tracks, YouTube Music extends the spectrum of sounds you’ll hear.
But guess what! This is exactly why I dislike YouTube Music.
When I first started using YouTube Music, my personalised tracks contained a huge number of remixes and covers. Probably it was because I would turn to YouTube only to listen to these sorts (I’m an Apple Music subscriber), and I ended up skipping multiple tracks to get to an official song. YouTube Music blends official music and remixes together - a formula I’m not fond of. Eventually I smothered this blend by listening to a lot of official music tracks, but the fact still stands - Music isn’t for the one who is only fond of original music.
But that is the only complaint, seriously. YouTube Music has a beautifully simple interface that I instantly fell in love with. Songs are nicely arranged and suggestions are almost always spot on. The audio-only mode is a dream come true; who hasn’t wanted to listen to YouTube without the video? And the app’s integration with your old YouTube likes and watched gives you a good start without you needing to choose the genres you like or searching for the songs you hear. The personalised mixtape - that can also be taken offline - is not bad once you’ve sorted the remixes and covers from the originals.
YouTube Music promises a new take on what we listen to, not just how we listen to it. This service is definitely far more unique that the average music streaming service. I like its freemium model - which is better than the 3 month trial you get with Apple Music. Would I pay for it? Not yet, because...
1. It needs to come to India officially,
2. There should be a switch to play only originals (and not every random thing from YouTube that is categorised as Music)
Will this be a game changer? I cannot say. Most reviews I’ve read are positive and the world seems to be liking the idea, but I cannot assure success of YouTube Music, or as a matter of fact, YouTube Red. All I can hope for is a better music listening - and discovery - experience.
Below is the official release video.