Everything you need to know about YouTube Music

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Music videos are making a comeback thanks to YouTube Music.


What is YouTube Music?

YouTube Music is a music streaming service housed within the larger YouTube video platform. Available both as a mobile app and a web player, YouTube Music differentiates itself from traditional music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music by focusing on music videos instead of raw audio.

YouTube Music curates these music videos from the grander YouTube catalogue, negotiating with record labels, publishers and artists directly to make their content available on the service. However, the app doesn’t feature just music videos. It also offers official albums, singles, remixes, live performances, covers and hard-to-find music you can only get on YouTube.

YouTube Music was first launched alongside YouTube Red in May 2016. YouTube revamped the app and started rolling it out in May 2018, alongside the rebranded YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red). YouTube Music comes in two forms: a free, ad-supported version and a premium version. You can get the paid app as a standalone or bundle it with a YouTube Premium subscription.

What features does YouTube Music support?

YouTube Music offers a number of features designed to enhance your music-listening experience. These include the following:

Exclusive videos

In addition to regular music videos, YouTube Music also includes a variety of live recordings, concert footage and artist interviews unavailable on other music services. These videos span all decades of recorded music, from live black-and-white footage of The Beatles to comprehensive coverage of Coachella, Soundwave and other prominent music festivals.

Playlists

Different moods call for different music, and the easiest way to ensure you've always got the right mix for any occasion is to craft a selection of custom playlists. YouTube Music lets you build as many playlists as you want, and you can share them with friends by simply sending them a YouTube link.

Playlists also serve as a great way for discovering new music, and YouTube Music offers plenty of ready-made mixes to expand your musical horizons. In addition to trending tracks and genre compilations, the service also builds personalised playlists based on your listening habits, combining artists you know with similar ones you haven’t listened to before. This is particularly useful if you enjoy a very specific style of music that the general-purpose playlists don't cater for.

Personalized recommendations

YouTube Music features a home screen that adapts to provide recommendations based on what you’ve played before, where you are, and what you’re doing. Moreover, it boasts a smart search function, so users are easily able to find any song, even if they can’t remember what it’s called.

Audio-only mode and background music

If you purchase the premium version of the app you’ll not only rid yourself of ads, but can also enjoy audio-only mode, which plays a selected song without loading its video. This can be especially handy if you want to conserve battery power or reduce your mobile data usage.

Additionally, subscribers can continue to listen to music through the YouTube Music app even if they switch to another app or turn off their device's screen. For non-premium users, either of these actions will cause YouTube Music to immediately stop playing music.

Offline play

Internet coverage here in Australia might have improved drastically over the last few years, but it's still not uncommon to find yourself stuck in a network dead zone or plagued by slow download speeds. To help deal with these frustrating situations, YouTube Music allows subscribers to download music videos in advance and play them whenever and wherever they like, even without an Internet connection. Two options are available: you can either download individual songs, albums, or playlists; or you can activate your offline mix tape which automatically downloads music for you based on what you've been listening to recently. This way, you can discover new music even when you're offline.

If you're worried about YouTube Music clogging up your device with downloaded songs, you can set a storage limit on how many tracks the offline mix tape will automatically download. You can also choose whether to download full music videos or just the raw audio.

As convenient as offline play is, it's not without its limitations. You'll need to connect YouTube Music to the Internet at least once every 30 days to verify your subscription and keep listening to music offline. If you don't, you'll no longer be able to play your downloaded music.

What music is available on YouTube Music?

YouTube Music includes millions of tracks in its catalogue, many of which are official music videos from popular artists like Bruno Mars, Macklemore, Kesha, Nicki Minaj, Ed Sheeran, or Taylor Swift. There's plenty of music to suit more niche tastes, too, from gospel and meditation music to the latest hits coming out of Bosnia and Lebanon. And thanks to the vast amount of music already on YouTube, new tracks are approved and added to YouTube Music on a regular basis.

What devices are compatible with YouTube Music?

The biggest drawback to YouTube Music is its limited device support. Other than the YouTube Music web player, which supports PCs, Macs and Linux-based computers running the latest version of the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari or Opera web browsers, YouTube Music is only available on mobile devices (smartphones/tablets) through the YouTube Music app.

How much does YouTube Music cost?

YouTube Music is available both as a free service supported by ads and as a premium service. While both give you access to the entire YouTube Music library, their features differ greatly.

Free

The free tier of YouTube Music offsets its attractive price by playing ads before and between songs. The frequency and length of these ads varies according to YouTube's algorithms. Ads aside, YouTube Music's free tier gets you access to all exclusive videos, custom playlists, and recommendations available on the service.

Premium

YouTube Music Premium costs $11.99/month. There’s a three-month free trial so you can test drive the platform to see if it’s right for you. Moreover, there’s also a family plan you can take advantage of. This one is $17.99/month for up to six family members. The family plan only offers a one-month trial.

Alternatively, you get YouTube Music Premium free with a YouTube Premium subscription, which costs $14.99/month. This also includes access to YouTube Originals, as well as ad-free, background, and downloads across all of YouTube.

Can I try YouTube Premium for free?

If you're looking to take YouTube Premium for a test drive before you hand over your money, YouTube is currently offering a three-month free trial of the service for anyone who hasn't tried it before. You can register for the trial over at the YouTube Premium website. Be aware, though, that you'll need to provide payment information in order to sign up, and if you don't cancel the trial before the grace period is up, YouTube will automatically charge you for the next month.

Other music streaming trials

Sick of Spotify? Get 30 days of Amazon Music Unlimited for free

Sick of Spotify? Get 30 days of Amazon Music Unlimited for free from Amazon AU

If your music streaming provider can't keep up with your eclectic tastes, try out Amazon Prime Music for 30 days completely free.

View details
Sign up for free 3-month Apple Music trial

Sign up for free 3-month Apple Music trial from Apple Store

Access millions of songs, get personal recommendations from friends and family and tune into Apple's 24/7 global radio station with Apple Music.

View details

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