7 things you need to know about YouTube Music

Can YouTube’s new subscription model beat Spotify, Apple Music et al? It’s certainly different – here’s how...
We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

Pour one out for YouTube Red.

The video service’s $9.99-a-month premium subscription, which never launched in the UK, is coming to an end, but its principles will live on in a pair of replacements: YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Premium.

Not only will these offer the advantages of YouTube Red (mainly ad-free videos), they’re also designed to take on the likes of Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer by acting as full-blooded, all-you-can-eat music streaming packages.

Confused? There’s no need to be – read our explainer and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

1) YouTube Music is about video too

As you’d expect from the world’s biggest video site, YouTube Music has more of a focus on music video than its competitors – but at the same time, it’s also designed to function as a pure audio service when the user desires.

That means you can choose from songs, albums, playlists and artist radio stations as with other services, but also access YouTube’s catalogue of remixes, live performances, cover versions and music videos.

There are new mobile and desktop apps coming too, designed specifically with music playback in mind.

2) It could be the ultimate personal DJ

Putting new music in your ears, specifically new music that you’ll like, seems a primary concern for YouTube Music’s designers.

Not only are there thousands of themed playlists, but the app’s personalised home screen will automatically serve up recommendations based on various factors: not just what you’ve previously listened to, but your current location or activity.

It gives the example of you being at the gym and being recommended some listening material to increase your heart-rate.

You’ll also reportedly be able to find songs by simply describing them or quoting their lyrics.

3) It’s coming in ad-supported and Premium versions

Much like Spotify, YouTube Music is available free of charge for anyone willing to put up with ads and a reduced feature set.

Still, those who subscribe to YouTube Music Premium will get ad-free listening, downloads for offline playback, and background listening (which means you won’t need to have the app currently open to listen).

4) There are two price tiers

For US$9.99 a month (UK pricing is yet to be announced) you get the full range of YouTube Music Premium features – but avid YouTube users may want to opt for the full YouTube Premium package at US$11.99 a month.

This features both Music Premium and the advantages currently offered by YouTube Red, namely access to YouTube Originals content like Cobra Kai, video downloads for offline viewing, and an entirely ad-free YouTube experience.

5) It’s free for Google Play Music subscribers

Already a Google Play Music account holder and wondering where this leaves you? The answer is: with a lot more functionality to play with at no extra cost!

That’s right, existing Play Music subscribers will get access to YouTube Music Premium for free.

6) It’s no extra for YouTube Red subscribers

One group who might be feeling exceedingly miffed at this news are YouTube Red subscribers, currently shelling out U$9.99 per month for ad-free delights, which will soon be under the US$11.99 YouTube Premium umbrella.

Anticipating this, Google will be offering them the full YouTube Premium experience (including Music Premium) at their current monthly price.

For how long this will continue, we don’t know – but interestingly anyone who snaps up a YouTube Red sub between now and its closure (likely 22 May) will be able to take advantage of that offer.

7) It’s coming to the UK

YouTube Red never made it to Blighty, but YouTube Music Premium and Premium will arrive at some point “soon”, as well as in other countries that never got Red: Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

If you live in one of those places, you can sign up here to be informed when plans are confirmed. And no, posting videos of your pleading face probably won't speed up its arrival.