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YouTube Music Review
YouTube Music is a compelling alternative to its competitors in the busy music streaming game. With its roots firmly in the video space, YouTube Music is expanding with audio streams that ensure a refreshing viewing and listening experience.
The service launched back in November 2015 and has long since been rumored to be a replacement for Google Play Music. It’s now the default music player on new Android devices.
YouTube Music is available via a web player, as well as Android and iOS apps.
YouTube Music Packages Compared
|YouTube Music Free||YouTube Music Premium||YouTube Music Family||YouTube Music Student|
|Free trial length||Always available||3 months||1 month||1 month|
|Song skipping available||Unlimited with ads||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
How We Evaluated YouTube Music
The busy music streaming market sees providers constantly innovating in order to compete and win new subscribers. YouTube Music offers something a little different from the rest by combining video playback with audio streams.
We tested the platform out and compared it against its biggest competitors, looking at content library size, free trial length, price, sound quality, subscriber base, and user experience.
YouTube Music vs. Other Music Streaming Services
|YouTube Music Premium||Amazon Music Unlimited||Apple Music||Deezer||Spotify|
|Premium starting monthly price||$9.99/mo.||$9.99/mo.||$9.99/mo.||$9.99/mo.||$9.99/mo.|
|Free trial length||3 months||30 days||3 months||3 months||30 days|
|Highest sound quality||256 kbps||3730 kbps||256 kbps||176 kbps||320 kbps|
|Number of songs||30 million||50 million||60 million||56 million||50 million+|
|Number of subscribers||15 million||32 million||60 million||14 million (7 million paid)||100 million|
Key YouTube Music Considerations
A visual alternative
YouTube Music’s combination of music videos and audio is an interesting alternative to other predominantly audio-based music streaming services. It provides a visual element to the music that’s also available on platforms, and there’s something really nice about being able to see the people who make the music. Video playlists often feature a mixture of music videos and audio streams, and whether this is positive or negative will depend on personal preference.
Live performance videos
YouTube Music includes videos of artists performing songs in concert. The platform has a wealth of live performance footage in a variety of genres.
User experience and custom recommendations
Upon opening the web player for the first time, the service prompts the user to select their favorite artists, which can take a while depending on genre. Google’s algorithm kicks in, provides targeted suggestions, then presents the user with a series of recommended artists, musical genres, and station-style playlists. Clicking on an artist or playlist starts the music player, and the listener can then add music to playlists and like songs, which will tailor future suggestions.
One convenient feature is that deviating away from the page of a song or playlist within YouTube Music doesn’t stop playback. The previous video moves into a minimized window in the bottom-right corner, and clicking on it leads seamlessly back into the original player.
New music discovery
Clicking on a music video automatically populates a playlist containing songs of a similar genre. Three of the first four songs tend to be from the same artist but, beyond that, the service makes decent artist suggestions. However, YouTube Music is lacking in useful new music suggestions, and fans of niche rock or metal bands, for example, may find some of their favorite new artists are missing.
Comprehensive free service
YouTube Music’s free version has a rich mixture of features, from creating playlists and building a content library to listening to albums in full. It’s a service that’s well worth using for people that don’t mind a few ads interrupting their listening experience.
The Bottom Line
YouTube Music is a streaming service heading in the right direction. The bolstering of its video service with audio streams has boosted its appeal, and with the power of Google behind it, it’s likely to continue strengthening.
The service still lacks in areas like intuitive new music recommendations, the size of its content library, and sound quality compared to other music streaming providers. But, if it can add to this, then it could become a serious competitor to the likes of Spotify, Apple, and Amazon.