YouTube Music, which Google has been working on for a while in order to better rival Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Pandora, and other music-streaming services, is now available for iPhone and Android as a new mobile app.
It is different from competing services however in that music videos aren't just a bonus feature buried within the app but rather a main focus. With it, you'll be able to access videos from your favourite artists as well as amateur recordings. And to ensure you have access to a catalogue of more than 50 million songs, YouTube Music mixes both video and audio-only clips.
About 20 million of those tracks are from independent artists or considered fan covers. The idea is that YouTube Music won't just showcase the rich and famous but also those waiting to be discovered. After all, Justin Bieber was discovered via YouTube.
Here's everything we know so far about YouTube Music...
YouTube Music: What is it?
YouTube Music is a new mobile app.
It's basically the result of what Google learned through its Music Key beta music subcription service that debuted last year but was never officially launched. YouTube Music takes bits of that and is now available to all.
YouTube Music: Where is it available?
The YouTube Music app is launching on iOS and Android in the US. There's no word yet on when it'll come to the UK.
YouTube Music: Getting started
Download the app. It is free to download and use (for the most part). And then sign in with your Google account. That's it.
YouTube Music: How does it work?
- YouTube Music starts with a home screen, naturally, that has three tabs. The first of which (represented by a house button) seems to feature stations curated for you, based on what you've browsed in the past, which serve up an "endless" stream of personalised music. You'll also see genre stations here based on your listening patterns, such as a "Hip hop music" station. Underneath all that you'll see recently played videos, recommended vidoes, videos that were recently uploaded, more suggestions, and new music this week.
- Click any video to have it open in a player, and while on that player, you can explore other versions of the same video, such as fan covers or related videos, by switching over from the "Playing Now" tab to "Explore". But under Playing Now, you'll find options to like, dislike, and share the video you're currently listening/watching, as well as access a toggle/filter that'll let you customise your station of endless personalised music. You can, for instance, tap the toggle to change the station variety from less variety to balanced or even more variety.
- To exit the player, you can tap the video and then the down arrow in the upper left-hand corner on the video. The player will then be minimised to a preview bar that runs along the bottom of every screen within the app. Tapping the video will also surface additional options, such as a search button (so you can search YouTube Music) and a settings button (which lets you change the video quality, enable closed captions, etc). You can even tap a square-shaped button on the video that'll close out the player window and make it go full-screen on your phone.
- Once you're back on the home screen, you can switch over from the first (house) tab to the second one (represented by a fire button) to keep up with music trends. YouTube Music serves up categories under here like “The Daily 40,” "Spotlight On: Visially Stunning", and “On the Rise,” culled from the larger YouTube community. You'll also see new music by genre and an overall "Trending now" section.
- The third tab on the home screen (represented by a thumbs-up button) shows you all the songs you've liked in the past, so you can easily earmark tracks and videos that you'll want to find and playback. Simples.
- The final two buttons you need to make note of are located in the top corners of the home screen. At the top right-hand corner of the home screen, for instance, there is a magnifying glass button, and tapping that will allow you to search by song, artist, or album across YouTube Music. To access YouTube Music's menu, tap the button with the three lines in the upper left-hand corner of the home screen, and then the menu will slide out from the left with options to switch your account, access recently played, enter the Help Center, send feedback, and more settings.
YouTube Music: Do you need a Red subscription?
No, but YouTube Red subscribers enjoy added bonuses.
Go to the app's menu, and at the bottom of the menu you'll see an option to get YouTube Red. If you choose to do so, you'll get a new button (red play toggle) in the upper right corner that lets you tell the app when you're not interested in watching videos, thus launching an audio-only experience. You therefore won't have to burn through so much video data. Other benefits include background play, ad-free watching and listening, the ability to take your music offline, and something called the offline mixtape.
During the last year of testing under YouTube Music Key, Google noticed many users were worried about using up their data plans on YouTube Music, because video content is known to be a big data-suck. As a result, Google decided to include an offline mode, which saves songs and videos to your phone, and the audio-only mode, which gets rid of videos entirely. But to get these offline capabilities, as well as the ad-free experience (rather than the free, ad-supported tier), you have to buy Red, priced at $9.99 a month.
YouTube Red is available for a one-month free trial for first-time users.
Want to know more?
Check out Google's blogpost for more details.