YouTube Music, the first full-featured music streaming service on the video service, is here and surprisingly good. At first glance, it's mostly Google Play Music with a fresh coat of paint and music videos. But take a closer look, and it's clear that YouTube has taken over the work to improve Google's previous attempts at streaming music, and that's what it's all about.
If you're new to streaming or just listening to music on YouTube, the reworked music experience is designed to familiarize you with the familiarity of the world's most popular music streaming service. It's made to captivate you with a range of easy-to-use search and search features that no other streaming service has to offer and to listen to the same library of live performances, cover art by unsigned artists, and random songs (and watch) already use it to delay the whole day at work (which are not available on Spotify or Apple Music)
– Monthly Google Play Music Subscription, with which you can also watch on YouTube Music Premium can access. If you sign up before YouTube Red becomes YouTube Premium (there's no date for this conversion, YouTube just says "soon"), you'll receive YouTube Premium for a $ 2 a month discount. Do you have it all? Good.
Now that streaming music services have captured the die-hard music fans and power users, they have shifted their eyes to the random listener. Older services like Pandora have relaunched with a focus on ease of use over everything else, and YouTube Music is no exception. While this is good in many areas, there are some power-user features that are missing, and this may prevent some from switching from their current streaming service until these features arrive.
Despite some setbacks, to this point, YouTube has finally become a legitimate challenger for Spotify and Apple Music. YouTube leverages Google's rich AI and search capabilities, combining it with a simple design and promise to turn it into One True Google Music streaming service. With a well built app, YouTube Music has a real chance on the streaming market.
Design and Home Screen
YouTube Music is an extremely simple app. If you open it – either on Android, iOS or in your web browser – you will find a dark theme. (It's not exactly nice, but it's functional.) There are three tabs: Home, Hotlist, and Library. I'll save the best for last, so let's start with Library. As you'd expect, this is the place where you'll find all your downloads, saved music, recently played songs and playlists, everything you like, and artists you've subscribed to. Yes, YouTube has maintained the same subscription structure for tracking an artist that exists in the video version of the service. This can be either good or bad, depending on the usage of YouTube.
The only thing missing from the library is a way to filter through your library. There's no way to browse songs or albums you've added, as you can with Spotify and Apple Music. It's a small detail, but if you spend a lot of time on streaming apps and add great music catalogs to your library, this is definitely a useful feature.
The hotlist is essentially the YouTube trend site, but exclusively for music. At the moment these are just videos, but that will change in the future. YouTube music director T. Jay Fowler told me, "[Hotlist] is the place where a user would see what's going on in their region, it's a cultural influence, it's brand new stuff, it's about things, such as last weekend with Childish Gambino on SNL he dropped the "This is America" video. This is where you find it because it's popularly We wanted to give a very, very visual snapshot of what's going on in your local area. "
The following is the thing about music videos in music streaming services: Everyone has them. Apple Music, Tidal and Spotify have all the music videos available in their apps. The main knock against all of them is: a) They do not have all the music videos and b) they really do not know where to put them in these apps. YouTube Music does not have these issues. It has all music videos, and it has given them a top-notch placement without being overly pressing. If you want to see them, you can do that, but videos do not take up any space that would otherwise lead to songs you just want to hear. That's a small part of the hotlist, but more about how the home tab works.
The Home tab, the screen you see when you first open the app, is the big revelation. It's also probably the main reason many people use YouTube Music. It's a constantly updated list of music and videos tailored to your tastes and location. When you sign up for YouTube Music for the first time, you'll be asked to select a handful of artists you like and the customization process begins. As with most streaming services, the recommendations for listening to and listening to or rejecting songs are further improved. Impressive here is how the home screen mixes video and audio without errors. I do not mind seeing music videos on my phone, and yet I find the placement of videos in the YouTube Music app not intrusive. More importantly, if it finds you are not interested in the videos, it will push the "shelf" – as YouTube calls it – further down the splash screen so you do not have to see it.
Recommendations based on your location can be viewed on the Home screen. This feature was taken over from Google Play Music. If you turn on location-based recommendations, you'll see shelves labeled "Looks like you're home" (or at work or at the gym). YouTube will provide recommendations that are appropriate for these locations. And these recommendations may vary over time. You'll get another referral shelf if you go to the gym in the morning in the evening, if you commute to other hours, and even if you're in museums, Fowler told me. "Last weekend I was at the Berkeley Art Museum, and I opened my app when I got out, and there was a selection of listening experiences that matched" going to a gallery. "And so there are few Easter eggs in it, even I do not know [about]"he said.
While these recommendations can be fun, there's a bigger question of how much data you want Google to leave. Spotify and Apple Music are not asking for your location information, so YouTube is here alone. And while most people do not care that Facebook users did not make an effort to change their attitudes after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, that's something to consider.
On the home screen, you'll also find your mixtapes, YouTube's answer to Spotify's Daily Mix. Mixtape is an endless personalized mix of music you like, along with some new discoveries that YouTube likes. As someone who listens to Spotify's Daily Mix every day for at least three hours and seldom skips songs, I was not sure if YouTube could match Spotify's capabilities. But the speed with which the YouTube Music algorithm put things right was the most impressive for me. I listened to music for about an hour and gave each song thumbs up and thumbs down to see how good my resulting mixtape could be with limited feedback. With just this hour of feedback and listening history, my mixtape was on par with My Daily Mix by Spotify, with whom I could listen to music for seven years.
Look, we all know that Google handles algorithms really well. So, if you're trying to stand out in a crowded area of music services, having a referral engine that's almost like the current clubhouse leader is a good start.
What you have noticed about all these features so far is that they are all largely "lean back" features, as the music industry refers to. A lean-back experience does not require a lot of footwork; With things like personalized playlists and curated homepages, YouTube will find out what you like so you can sit back and play. And while these features are very good and will appeal to most YouTube users, it's important to have a music streaming service's lean forward aspects, such as audio quality control, playlists, social features, and third-party integrations ,
Currently you can not change the audio quality in YouTube Music. There is no option in the Settings menu, so you get stuck with the standard quality of YouTube Music at 128 Kbps (AAC on mobile devices, OPUS for the Internet) with a good connection and 64 Kbps in poor network conditions. YouTube tells me that it will soon be adding an audio quality selector and a higher bitrate (256 kbps). But if you now listen to the highest quality music on your current streaming service, you will experience an audio downgrade to this point. Update is being introduced
There is no Sonos integration yet, so you can not play YouTube Music through Sonos unless you connect your phone directly to a Sonos device with an auxiliary port, even though Google Play Music is integrated. (You can download Google Play Music and use it exclusively for Sonos, as this service comes with the YouTube Music subscription.) YouTube says it is working on integrating with Sonos and offering Sonos spokespersons the option through the YouTube Music app to play well.
YouTube Music also misses little things like social features that the company says will not come; It found that most of the music was shared outside of the platform (for example, on social media), and it saw no need for it. Creating playlists is also more difficult than it needs to be. You can not add albums to playlists, which means you need to add each track one at a time, which is a time-consuming and poor user experience. YouTube says this will change this summer when users can add albums and other playlists to playlists. (There is also no description for any playlists, which is a strange omission.)
And while Mixtape is great, it's the only personalized playlist in the service. Apple Music has three, and Spotify has a ton, including another Daily Mix for every genre you hear, Release Radar, Time Capsule and of course Discover Weekly. The biggest strength of YouTube Music is probably its algorithm, and it should go beyond that – not just for the "meager" listener, but also for users who want variety.
The only place where YouTube stands out for more active users is Search, where you can use phrases to search for songs and albums, thanks to the integration of the service with Google Assistant. If you're looking for "this Kanye song about Taylor Swift," it'll be West's music video for "Famous," which Swift mentions in the first lines, and Swift's songs, "Innocent," and "That's why we can not have beautiful things." These are both over the west.
This research can go deeper than just the biggest musical feud of the decade; I searched for "Drake and Lauryn Hill" and picked up Drake's hit single "Nice for What." Lauryn Hill is not on this track, her song "Ex-Factor" is sampled on it. This deep level of knowledge in search is largely unequaled in a streaming service. The search of Apple Music is particularly hideous, and the Spotify search engine found no match for my Drake query.
There are still many bugs and little annoying ticks that the service has. It will recommend artists on the home screen instead of specific albums or songs, which means you have to click a few extra times before you can start listening. I was also recommended to play the same playlist twice after updating the splash screen several times. Nevertheless, YouTube Music is more correct than wrong. While it leaves much to be desired for those of us who have been streaming music for years – though there are some corrections in the works – it's an excellent starting point for people who are finally ready to enter the musicstreaming world.
"I would have put it out six months ago if it was up to me, but thank God I have not, thank God it was not mine," said Lyor Cohen, Youtube's worldwide music chief. And he is right. For a first start (or a third start, depending on how you want to count), YouTube Music is ahead of any other streaming service that has been recently debated. To reach this point, it took all the time it could get.
Now it has to catch up with Spotify and Apple, and it's not all the time in the world.
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