It's not a Spotify killer, in case you were wondering
When you think of streaming music, you are spoilt for choice. The market leader is arguably Spotify, with Apple Music coming in a close second. Then it’s platforms like Pandora taking up the slack. But what about YouTube?
Illegal music uploads to YouTube are nothing new. But these days, all major artists and business-savvy bands are making their own official YouTube channels with their music free for anyone to hear. Not only does it help them find new fans, but they can monetize their videos with YouTube ads, helping them to bring in some extra revenue.
YouTube has latched onto this and now has a dedicated YouTube music video site and mobile app with both free and paid options (the paid option for $12.99 a month removes all YouTube video ads, but $12.99 to skip ads after 5 seconds is outrageous). You can get YouTube Music here and on iOS & Android.
YouTube Music Videos Pull In All The Music You’ve Already Listened To
If you’re like me, you’ll have listened to music on YouTube quite a lot. Therefore you may have your own specially curated music playlists, as well as music in your ‘liked’ lists.
So YouTube likely already has a good idea of what you like to listen to by studying your track record. When you start YouTube Music for the first time, all of that music history is pulled into the app.
You can further refine your music choices by specifying what artists you like. You can come back to this screen at any time via the link in the settings.
Once you go back to the main Music screen, it will begin to self-populate with your liked music, liked artists and what YouTube Music deems to be ‘similar’ to your likes.
You can listen to automatically generated playlists based on an artist you liked or a genre that you tend to listen to. A lot of my music likes on YouTube are from the 1980’s, so that is partly what I found when I studied YouTube’s playlists.
You also get a mixtape of “endless personalized music” which you’ve either liked in the past or similar ones which YouTube is convinced you will enjoy.
Playlists like this are ideal for when you’re working or travelling, and you want to have some background music. Just click play and it will jump from one song to another without any input from you (except for when you need to skip an ad).
Listening To a Song On YouTube Music
If you tap a playlist or artist, the screen will change to the playlist on the right, and the YouTube music video of the song currently being played on the left.
Here are the features to look out for :
- The two horizontal lines to the right of each song title will let you drag songs into a different order in the playlist.
- Giving a song the thumbs-up will tell YouTube to give you more songs like that.
- Giving a song the thumbs-down will tell YouTube to avoid further music like that, and it will also immediately bounce you to the next song in the playlist. Like Spotify and Apple Music, YouTube’s algorithms only know what you like if you teach it.
- Clicking the three vertical dots underneath the video opens up even more options. Bear in mind though that any changes you make with these options will be immediately reflected on your regular YouTube account.
Is It a Spotify Killer?
In a word, no.
As much as YouTube would like to think they are just as good as Spotify or Apple Music, they are just not there yet. Videos depend on the person who uploaded them and that person can easily delete the video. Videos can also be very low quality or even mislabelled as something else. Which is why $12.99 a month for no ads is a bit of a cheek.
But if you use it as a free user and don’t mind skipping the ads, it is a nice way to listen to music on YouTube. The endless playlists are a nice touch if you have your curated music on YouTube like I do.