For the longest time YouTube has been an unofficial music streaming service of sorts, having amassed hundreds of thousands of songs and music videos uploaded by official labels and the odd user willing to brave the risk of a lawsuit.
Starting today, that changes. The first half of a game-changing update comes in the form of a new dedicated home tab explicitly for music. Initially set to hit the Android YouTube app and the company’s website (the iOS app will shortly follow), the Music home gives users a filtered view of all the latest music videos and even offers playlist recommendations on trends created by other users are watching/listening habits.
That said, it’s the second part of the story where things get interesting. YouTube’s new Music Key service is its answer to the likes of Spotify, leveraging the massive amount of music already uploaded to YouTube’s servers as its foundation.
For an introductory offer of £7.99 a month (usually £9.99 a month), YouTube is hoping that users will turn to its mobile apps to satiate their hunger for the latest tunes. Laying down cash affords you three fundamental differences over the typical YouTube experience.
Firstly, you’ll be able to enjoy music on YouTube without ads that would otherwise play between songs, ideal for those who like to set a playlist going for some background party beats.
Next up is background listening, which will finally let you close the YouTube app and keep the audio going. You even get lockscreen art and media controls, just as you would with rival popular music services. Previously this feature was reserved for a handful of third-party YouTube clients, but typically the experience they offered felt neither safe (after punching in your Google account details) nor satisfying.
Last, but arguably most importantly is the ability to save tracks for offline playback. Now with the tap of a button, users can save a track to listen to later irrespective of the state of their data connection. We don’t exactly know how many tracks this affords you, but it would appear that you’re only limited by the amount of free capacity available on your device.
Those already entrenched in the world of Google might feel that YouTube’s new offering places itself as a direct rival to another of the company’s auditory endeavours; Google Play Music. In fact, the monthly subscription fee grants you access to both YouTube’s library and GPM’s catalogue of 30+ million songs and ‘expertly-curated’ playlists. You’re even able to play YouTube music videos from within the GPM app.
Whilst the likes of Spotify and Deezer already have huge influence in the music-streaming space, Google has a number of extra talents to tempt people over to the dark side:
It owns YouTube
As the largest video sharing website in the world, with a one billion+ strong active monthly user base, there’s already a massive pool of potentials who are just a few taps away from becoming paying Music Key customers.
No install required
Whilst you have to download an app and create an account with rival services, the YouTube app comes pre-loaded on practically every Android smartphone and tablet in the world, not to mention you probably already have a Google account plumbed into it, complete with credit card information.
YouTube makes up part of Vevo
One of the most pervasive music video sites and services already operating within YouTube unites two of the big three major record labels; Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, ensuring that tunes from hundreds of signed artists can take centre stage on YouTube’s site.
With all that in mind would you be tempted to sign up to the YouTube Music Key beta, or would you rather seen how things pan out before turning your back on Spotify and its contemporaries?