NEW YOUTUBE MUSIC PLATFORM READY TO LAUNCH
YouTube Music, a brand new global music streaming service that merges Google Play Music and YouTube Red into a new service has been scheduled to launch in Australia and New Zealand today.
In an attempt to streamline its offering and its fourth attempt to convince the billions of YouTube users to pay for content, the new offering is supposed to roll out today, at least in Australia and New Zealand.
However, despite our best efforts the StereoNET team so far has been unable to access anything other than the old YouTube Music app in the Play Store and App Store. The website simply says 'coming soon'.
It's been a big year for music streaming, with more and more people listening online and no longer owning their music. Spotify still leads the audio pack, YouTube is huge in video, Apple is catching with paid audio subscriptions, Tidal has been accused of rigging figures, Pandora left Australia, and Euro Hi-Res Qobuz continues with the widest selection of quality music.
Google has long been a streaming oddity with a collection of unrelated free and paid, services from Google itself and its subsidiary YouTube, including Google Play, YouTube Key and YouTube Red.
The 'new' YouTube Music merges music and video replay into one brand-new mobile app/service and at last gets a matching desktop app. It will eventually replace Google Play Music and the music component of YouTube Red, but it is unclear if it will inherit all 'Play' features like the online music Locker and Podcasts.
Audio quality remains at the bottom of the feature list from what we can tell with a max resolution of 320kbps MP3 or AAC leaving it on par with Spotify and Apple Music and nowhere near as good as Tidal Hi-Fi quality and Qobuz Hi-Res.
From what we can tell so far, the 'new' YouTube Music adds markedly to the confusion surrounding Google's streaming services.
Firstly there's already a live concert YouTube Music service launched in 2015 that will apparently be discontinued.
The 'new' YouTube Music merges Google Play Music and the paid subscription based YouTube Red into a new free service, but with regular ads between songs, and no offline downloads.
For ad-free music and downloads, you must subscribe to YouTube Music Premium for AUD$11.99 a month. Then adding more complexity and cost, YouTube (not Music) Premium at AUD$14.99 lets you watch unlimited advertising-free videos, and download them and music. This tier also gives access to YouTube Original content, and it comes with YouTube Music included.
Google does promise however that existing subscriptions to various services will be honoured and that all playlists, purchases etc. will transfer.
In their published comments, YouTube says that the service will be “audio-biased,” and depending on how much privacy you want to lose it will make recommendations based on your Google tracked behaviour and the time of day. So no videos at work, upbeat playlists at the gym and seductive lounge music on Friday nights. The new app also allows users to download music for offline listening, with setting options so that it doesn’t eat all your memory or eat all your data while streaming.
YouTube Premium includes ad-free, background and offline across all of YouTube, as well as access to all YouTube Originals including Cobra Kai, Step Up: High Water and Youth & Consequences,
With YouTube’s backing, Premium users will get access to millions of general music videos, plus legit commercial videos such as “Saturday Night Live” or BBC performances, as well as televised artist interviews and other background material. Using Google's extensive expertise, you can even search for vague lyrics or descriptions; the provided example was “that hipster song with the whistling” (Peter, Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks”).
Google is hoping to gather industry support for a third force in streaming to break Spotify and Apple Music “duopoly”.
“There's nothing healthy about a duopoly,” commented Lyor Cohen, YouTube's head of music to Variety. He says that the dominance of Spotify and Apple, which have a reported 25 million paying subscribers to their music streaming services and have been credited with resurrecting the industry, is “scary for musicians and record labels”.
YouTube’s global music head and head of music product T. Jay Fowler told Rolling Stone Magazine:
I think the industry is excited, because one of the greatest fears the industry is having is they could wake up one day, and it could be just two distributors,
UPDATE: Confusion still reigns about the YouTube Music launch, as for many people including those in the StereoNET office, the new app and website is not available yet. We can confirm that the apps currently available in the Play Store and App Store are the older versions and not the 'new' YouTube Music platform.
YouTube has confirmed its new YouTube Music platform is being rolled out to a limited amount of users within the United States, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea initially. To follow in the coming weeks will be Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
StereoNET will provide updates here as they come to hand.
Rob Follis has been writing about tech on and off for over 40 years, is a designer, photographer, information omnivore, gadget-head, Hi-Fi afficionado, owner of far far too many things and sadly an unsuccessful app developer. A born & bred Londoner now happily living in Melbourne. Email Rob.