YOUTUBE MUSIC FINALLY GETS IT RIGHT

YouTube Music, the video service’s first full-fledged music streaming offering is here, and it’s surprisingly great. At first glance, it’s largely Google Play Music with a fresh coat of paint and music videos. But look closer, and it’s clear YouTube has been putting in the work to improve upon Google’s previous attempts at music streaming, and the foundation is here to accomplish that.

If you’re new to streaming or if you exclusively listen to music through YouTube, the overhauled Music experience is designed to bring you in with the familiarity of what is already the world’s most popular music streaming service. It’s made to intrigue you with a set of easy-to-use discovery and search features no other streaming service can top and keep you listening (and watching) with the same library full of live performances, covers from unsigned artists, and random songs you already use to procrastinate at work all day (that aren’t available on Spotify or Apple Music).

For the most part, YouTube Music accomplishes all of this, but there are parts that are overly complicated. For example, its pricing structure: there’s a free, ad-supported version of YouTube Music, a $10-per-month ad-free version called YouTube Music Premium, and a $12-per-month subscription for YouTube Premium (formerly known as YouTube Red), which includes YouTube Music Premium as well as YouTube Original shows and ad-free viewing on the traditional YouTube app and website. (Current YouTube Red subscribers get to keep their current pricing, and they will also get YouTube Music Premium.)

That doesn’t take into account the $10-per-month Google Play Music subscription, which will also give you access to YouTube Music Premium. Also, if you sign up before YouTube Red becomes YouTube Premium (there’s no date on that conversion; YouTube just says “soon”), you’ll get YouTube Premium for a $2-a-month discount. Got all that? Good.

Now that streaming music services have already captured the die-hard music fans and power users, they have shifted their gaze toward the casual listener. Older services like Pandora have relaunched with an emphasis on ease of use over everything else, and YouTube Music is no exception. While that is good in many areas, there are a few power user features that are missing, and that may deter some from switching over from their current streaming service until those features arrive.

Despite a few setbacks in getting to this point, YouTube finally has a legitimate challenger for Spotify and Apple Music. YouTube has leveraged Google’s vast AI and search capabilities and combined it with a simple design and a promise to make this the One True Google Music Streaming Service. With a well-built app, YouTube Music has a real fighting chance in the streaming market.

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