Google’s latest music streaming service goes live today. As promised, updated YouTube Music includes a mix of songs, music videos, and live performances, among other things. And there are multiple pricing options including a free, ad-supported service and an ad-free YouTube Music Premium service that runs $10 per month (after your free trial is up).
I took the free version of YouTube Music for a spin today, and it seems pretty competitive with Spotify, Amazon Music, and some of the other streaming services I’ve tried.
I found the initial setup process to be surprisingly enjoyable: Google asks you to pick some artists you like from a list, and every time you select one more options appear based on your choices. It feels a little like a game as I kept wondering what would pop up next.
This process helps YouTube recommend music you may like as you go along, and after spending a few minutes tapping some of my favorite artists I was presented with a bunch of suggested playlists, new releases, and artists similar to the ones I’d chosen, along with some curated playlists that seemed to have little to do with my selections.
That said, there ‘s one deal-breaker in the ad-free version that will probably keep me from switching over from Spotify. You can’t play music in the background using the mobile version of YouTube Music.
Turn off your phone’s display or switch to another app and the music stops playing. Sure, you could pay a monthly fee to remove that restriction (and to get access to offline playback and an ad-free listening experience), but Spotify, Pandora, and most other modern music streaming services I’ve used support background streaming in the free tier (if they have a free tier).
You can listen in the background if you use the desktop web version at music.youtube.com. So I could see myself using YouTube Music on my PC, but I’m already used to using the free Spotify app and it’s nice to have playlists and favorites that sync with my phone.
If you are considering paying for YouTube Music, you can also opt to pay for YouTube Premium. The service runs $12 per month and includes a YouTube Music Premium subscription and ad-free access to all YouTube content plus background playback, downloads, and access to YouTube original programming.
There are also family plan options that you add up to 6 users to a subscription, and Google is temporarily offering three month free trials. So here’s the pricing breakdown:
- YouTube Music Premium – $9.99 per month (after 3-month free trial)
- YouTube Music Premium Family Plan – $14.99 (after 3-month free trial)
- YouTube Premium – $11.99 (after 3-month free trial)
- YouTube Premium Family Plan – $17.99 (after 3-month free trial)
via YouTube Blog