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ByRob Latham Contributing Writer

Rob Latham is a writer focused on technology, music, entertainment and sports. He is particularly passionate about the role that technology plays in improving peoples’ lives.

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
Price
Free
$9.99/mo.
$14.99/mo.
$4.99/mo.
Free trial length
Always available
3 months
1 month
1 month
Song skipping available
Unlimited with ads
Unlimited
Unlimited
Unlimited

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.

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