Streaming: Can YouTube Music topple Spotify?
“YouTube is singing a new song,” said Jefferson Graham in USA Today. The world’s most popular music video platform, with 1.8 billion global users, is taking on the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon in the increasingly lucrative music-streaming business. Mirroring the approach pioneered by market leader Spotify, YouTube Music, which launched last month, has two tiers: a free, ad-supported option and YouTube Music Premium, which costs $9.99 per month and allows unlimited ad-free streaming and playlist curation. “One of the selling points for YouTube Music will be the ability to harness the endless amount of information Google knows about you,” said AJ Dellinger in Gizmodo.com. With that data, the service hopes to “create customized listening experiences” and, aided by Google Assistant, deliver users “listening recommendations based on the time of day, location, and listening patterns.”
We’re finally getting “a legitimate challenger for Spotify and Apple Music,” said Micah Singleton in TheVerge.com. Having already acquired “the die-hard music fans and power users,” the other main music-streaming services have all “shifted their gaze toward the casual listener.” YouTube Music is no different, with “an emphasis on ease of use over everything else.” The app divides its music between three tabs: Home, Hotlist, and Library. The home tab is a “revelation” and will be a huge user draw, with constantly updated lists “tailored to your taste and to your location.” Hotlist is also interesting, essentially serving as “YouTube’s trending page but exclusively for music.” The Library tab compiles all of your downloads, saved music, recently played songs, and playlists and artists you’re following. What’s more, the way YouTube has “leveraged Google’s vast AI and search capabilities” is impressive. YouTube Music “has a real fighting chance in the streaming market.”
The fact you can’t automatically play a music video if one exists in the YouTube Music library is a “little strange,” said Todd Haselton in CNBC.com. “Instead, to find a video, you need to search for the song and then select the music video.” That seems like an unnecessary extra step. I think a bigger issue is that YouTube Music just doesn’t look “all that different from the competition,” said Ellis Clopton in Variety.com. The app’s user interface looks “incredibly familiar,” and even the artwork for YouTube’s curated playlists “seems derivative.” If you ask me, YouTube Music has likely arrived too late. Most music fans have already made their choice of streaming services and have carefully curated their personalized playlists. They’ll find the idea of switching “to an entirely new platform for essentially the same experience a chore.” ■