Google’s music and video streaming options are very confusing
The attempt to streamline the options actually ends up with multiple services duplicating similar content
We have often pointed out the mess that is Google’s instant messaging app ecosystem, where you have to remember the finer aspects of multiple apps including Android Messages, Allo, Duo, Hangouts and Spaces, to name a few. But that, it seems, is not all from the house of Google. Apparently, someone has been in the company’s ear telling them that their present music and video streaming subscription services are a bit cluttered too. And the solution it seems, as it was with the messaging apps portfolio, is to add on even more stuff into the mix. Bear with us, while we try to illustrate the wry mess.
Also read: Why is Google making so many messaging apps?
Surely you are familiar with YouTube and Google Play Music. The former is a very popular video streaming platform, while the latter is a music streaming app that competes with the likes of Apple Music and Spotify. There is a subscription fee for Google Play Music, which is $9.99 for a single account and $14.99 for sharing the subscription with up to 6 accounts. Then there is an app, and has been around since 2015, called YouTube Music—it is free and add-supported and includes content such as music videos and concerts and is available in some countries. If you want to remove the adverts, you pay for a subscription service known as YouTube Red—you pay $9.99 for this, and in the process get an ad-free YouTube Music, ad-free YouTube, some YouTube originals, YouTube Kids as well as the bundled Google Play Music subscription. In that case, you won’t be charged separately for the Play Music subscription. No brainer then, that in whichever countries YouTube Red is available in (it is not in India yet, for instance), it made perfect sense to subscribe.
But someone at Google clearly thought this entire pastiche of Play Music, YouTube Music, YouTube and YouTube Red was complicated enough already. The solution, as it turns out, are two new subscription packages.
“On Tuesday, 22 May, we’ll begin rolling out YouTube Music, a new music streaming service made for music on top of the magic of YouTube,” says Google in an official statement. This new YouTube Music, to be honest, sounds just like the old YouTube Music app that is already there. Apparently it is different though, and Google says that the new YouTube Music app will have “official songs, albums, thousands of playlists and artist radio plus YouTube’s tremendous catalogue of remixes, live performances, covers and music videos that you can’t find anywhere else.” The YouTube Music app will be launching in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and South Korea, and will subsequently be available in Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.
This does indicate that Google may want to merge the Play Music app completely with YouTube Music, and says as much, “Google Play Music subscribers in all other countries will automatically have access to YouTube Music Premium as soon as it becomes available there. And if you use Google Play Music, nothing will change—you’ll still be able to access all of your purchased music, uploads and playlists in Google Play Music just like always.” However, not all countries are on the list of YouTube Music app’s path just yet, and it’ll be quite a while before Play Music can finally be shuttered.
That is not all. Google is also asking YouTube Red to step aside, and the new apple of everyone’s eye will be a new service called YouTube Premium. Well actually, two services. If you want just music access and don’t mind the adverts to support giving you access for free, then you don’t pay a penny. If you want to remove the annoying adverts, but only care about music, you will need to sign up for the YouTube Music Premium service, which will be priced at $9.99 per month. If you want the entire serving, including ad-free YouTube and YouTube Originals, then that’ll be $11.99 per month, for what is called the YouTube Premium subscription.
What we will end up with in the foreseeable future at least are Google Play Music and YouTube Music available in parallel, offering the same set of content. In the midst of all this, we now have a new app, that is just like the old app, but is still new. And two subscription packages that are bound to confuse even the most ardent YouTube user. This is essentially, the summary of the long and complicated journey of what comprises Google’s video and music streaming services.
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