After months of testing and teasing, YouTube will relaunch its streaming platform next Tuesday (May 22) with multiple subscription price points alongside an entry-level, ad-supported version.
The new service, YouTube Music, comes with an array of tools to take on Spotify, Apple Music and other established subscription platforms, and promises thousands of playlists, millions of licensed songs, albums and artist radio, video and its own “reimagined” mobile app and desktop players.
Initially, YouTube Music will roll out in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea, with Canada and a raft of European countries (including France, the U.K., Germany and Spain) coming online shortly after.
Borrowing from the Spotify model, the YouTube Music ad-supported product is free to users. Graduating up is YouTube Music Premium, which for US$9.99 a month offers background listening and downloads, without those pesky ads, a blog post explains (the price for Australian users is AUS$11.99 a month or US$9, Billboard can confirm). Subscribers to Google Play Music can migrate to a YouTube Music Premium membership under their existing monthly plan. “Nothing will change,” notes YouTube. “You’ll still be able to access all of your purchased music, uploads and playlists in Google Play Music just like always.” In time, Google Play Music will be phased out, according to reports.
Also, say bye-bye to YouTube Red, which will now be known as YouTube Premium. The new service rolls in the benefits of YouTube Music with access to all YouTube Originals including Cobra Kai, Step Up: High Water, and Youth & Consequences, priced at $11.99 for all new members (the same $9.99 price will apply for existing YouTube Red subscribers).
The launch of YouTube Music comes after a flurry of activity at the streaming giant, which on Wednesday revealed it would provide artist credits to more than half a billion videos on its platform, and which last week announced changes to several of its global charts, including for top songs, top artists and top music videos.
YouTube and Google have already tried to muscle in on the nascent, multi-billion-dollar subscription market, with little tangible success. Those have included the audio-only Google Play that launched in 2011 and YouTube Music Key in 2014, which became YouTube Red in 2015. Word of YouTube’s third paid music service has rumbled along in the trade and tech press for almost a year.