With the merger of the YouTube and Play Music teams in early 2017, Google began laying the groundwork for a new service to “deliver the best possible product.” With the video network taking the lead on the new joint offering, a revamped YouTube Music is launching today. Meanwhile, Red is being replaced by a “Premium” tier that is slightly more expensive for new subscribers.
Visually, the new YouTube Music is mostly unchanged — down to the icon — from the previous incarnation of the service. The app features the same layout, with Home, Trending, and Library located on the bottom bar. The recently rolled out Now Playing screen with better queue management is a part of this update.
In Home, users will see the first differences in the form of sections like New Releases, Your favorites, and Feel-good favorites that feature carousels of albums. This homescreen is updated throughout the day for better discovery based on location and prior listening history.
The built-in search functionality takes a page from Google Home and Assistant with users able to look songs up by lyrics and even descriptions (that hipster song with the whistling).
In addition to millions of official songs, other content includes thousands of playlists, artist radio, remixes, covers, and live versions. With existing Android and iOS clients, there will also be a “brand new desktop player” for YouTube Music.
A new ad-supported version of Music will be available for free, with a $9.99/month “Music Premium” tier offering ad-free content, background playback, and offline downloads. However, note that those three features only apply to music content.
To get that functionality on all YouTube videos — like with YouTube Red before — new users need to step up to “YouTube Premium” for $2 more. At $11.99, subscribers will also have access to YouTube Originals and other content.
Fortunately, existing Red subscribers will be grandfathered in to the current rate of $9.99 per month. In fact, new subscribers in countries where Red is already available can sign-up now to lock in the price ahead of the new service.
In regards to the future of Play Music, “nothing will change,” according to Google’s official post.This is in contrast to earlier reports and could of course change in the future. It appears that Google is not yet ready to make any official announcement.
Update: Existing Play Music subscribers, who already have Red by being in one of the five countries where that previous service is available, will get access to YouTube Premium.
YouTube Music begins rolling out next Tuesday in the United States, Mexico, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. It will expand to Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom in the coming weeks.
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