As much as names like Pandora and Spotify dominate the conversation about music streaming services, they, along with almost every other service, are dwarfed by YouTube. And while YouTube is still the world's largest repository and source for video (sorry, Facebook) it is also, technically, the world's second-largest search engine, behind parent company Google. And now YouTube is looking to further dominate the field with its release of a new app, YouTube Music.
This is all according to Ben Popper in his new article on The Verge, "YouTube Music is here, and it's a game changer." Popper covers many of the features of the new app, and the crowded world of music streaming. So crowded, in fact, that Google might be crowding itself out.
Google already has the Google Play app and service. Both it and YouTube Music are free, and both are greatly enhanced by subscribing to YouTube Red, the ad-free version of YouTube that costs $9.99 per month and give users many more options for how and when they watch videos. But, as Popper observes, YouTube Music is intended like the Facebook Messenger, bringing it out to a new app to see how it does on its own.
YouTube Music's base level service is much like other streaming services, it has "licensed the same pool of roughly 30 million audio tracks" you'd find on Pandora or Spotify. But this is YouTube, with a vast array of additional video available to it. This include live concerts, covers, lyric videos, even the option of instructional videos on a previous song's guitar tabs.
Most intriguingly, with a subscription to YouTube Red, YouTube Music will give you a plethora of new tools and options, including downloading a whole playlist so you can still watch and listen to music even when you don't have access to the internet, an absolute must for morning commuters and other travelers.
YouTube Music has another feature, which I think is perhaps the most interesting one in the whole batch, that helps you find new stuff. Essentially a randomization slider, it allows you to control how far afield a playlist will go to find the next track. As Popper puts it, "pick a station that plays mostly Rihanna and closely related artists, or one that starts with Rihanna but goes off into a more eclectic and adventurous selection from there."
Because YouTubers have previously made millions of music playlists on the site, and because Google algorithms tend to be very useful, users of YouTube Music can expect the service to find great suggestions for music they haven't heard before. Which is a good position to be in for a new app entering an already overstuffed sector of the digital marketplace.