YouTube Music starts rolling out this week. Is this the future of streaming?

When Lyor Cohen became the head of the music division of YouTube, he made it his mission to combine all the separate music properties into one.

There was a lot of overlap between Google Play Music, YouTube Red and YouTube itself. Yesterday (May 22), the new amalgamated YouTube Music made its debut in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.

RAIN summarizes things this way:

  • YouTube Music (free): a new version of the existing music carve-out, employing new curation and algorithmic recommendations. Meant to bring YouTube’s astonishing music catalog into competition with the sharp intelligence layers in competition with Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and other streaming music services. It seems strange to imagine that other companies are ahead of Google in any type of machine intelligence, but in the specialized realm of on-demand music, it is probably the case. Consider that Pandora started developing its Music Genome technology in 2000.
  • YouTube Music Premium ($10/month): The new YouTube Music without commercials. Also, downloading videos for offline listening. And, “background play,” which means the app keeps playing when you use other apps … a basic phone feature that pretty much all music apps have provided for a decade.
  • YouTube Red ($12/month): Upgrading the general YouTube ad-free subscription (music plus everything else). At least, the price is upgraded from the original $10/month — the existing price point since launching in October, 2015.
  • Google Play Music ($10/month): Fully on-demand competitor to Apple Music. Currently included in either of the subscriptions above. Nothing new here, but included in this list to round out all of Google’s music/video subscription plans. Trustworthy rumors say Google will wind down Play Music. That would simplify things, but also create a musical ecosystem completely attached to videos. That could be a bandwidth/storage issue for some users, or be simply undesirable for people who just want, you know, music.

This could be very interesting. How will Spotify and Apple Music respond? Video is the killer advantage to this platform.

Canada will get a look at the new service at the same time as 13 European countries later this year.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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