On Nov. 12, YouTube released “YouTube Music,” an app that focuses on the music-related uses of YouTube and provides a variety of features to help users listen to their favourite music and discover new artists. The app is currently only available on Google Play and the App Store in the U.S., so Canadian users won’t be seeing it pop up in their App Store purchases at the moment.
On November 12, YouTube released a somewhat vague promotional video with little information besides a series of short clips featuring the song “Go” by The Chemical Brothers playing in the background, then ending with the slogan “see where your music takes you” and the logo for the new YouTube Music app. The video was accompanied by a link to a much more descriptive app site and an official blog post that confirmed what the video hinted at; YouTube has now produced an app that focuses specifically on the use of YouTube as a music discovery and listening platform.
Despite being created as a video sharing site, YouTube has seen widespread use as a place to listen to and share music. Whether it is because it is more convenient, more user friendly, or just more well-known than dedicated music streaming sites, people have been using YouTube as a primary source to stream and share music online. Besides music videos, YouTube also has many “lyric videos” that just display a song’s lyrics, and videos that literally show nothing but a still image of the album cover with the song playing in the background, which are clearly intended for music listening rather than video watching.
YouTube has decided to respond to this use of their website as a music source by releasing an app that is specifically focused on music. The app allows users to access a large music catalogue where they can search for and stream music on their devices.
What makes YouTube Music different from just streaming music on YouTube is that the content is not mixed in with other types of videos, interviews and commentary, which typically get in the way of the music on the site, as the content on the new app is purely music. Furthermore, what makes the app different from similar apps such as Spotify or Songza is that YouTube Music allows users to listen to the user-generated, live and unique music content that is normally only available on YouTube.
According to an official YouTube blog release, “you’ll be able to quickly find music videos, tracks, artists and albums, but you’ll also see all the remixes, covers, lyric videos and concert footage that YouTube has to offer.”
While users can search for and listen to specific songs, the app is also being marketed as a tool for discovery. Songs and artists are linked so that, after listening to a song, a user will be directed to a new song or artist that is somehow related to what they just listened to, leading them through a chain of new songs that are all related in some way, and allowing them to discover new music based on their interests.
The app also recommends new music for users based on their listening trends and creates personalized “stations” for users.
As with almost anything free in the current tech market, YouTube Music has a paid feature that can be accessed through purchasing a YouTube Red membership. The membership removes the ads from the app, allows for users to listen to music offline, allows users to turn off the video function and listen only to audio, and will keep the audio from videos playing even if users leave the app or use a different app, which resolves a common complaint about the feasibility of YouTube as a music-playing application.
U.S. users can currently download the app from Google Play or the App Store, and will receive a 14-day free trial of the paid features. Users in other countries will currently have to wait, and there has been no announced official release date.