YouTube is already one of the best places to find pretty much any song you’re looking for: if an artist hasn’t officially uploaded the track, odds are some user has. And in addition to official recordings there are a ton of live recordings that are either professionally recorded or captured at concerts by smartphone users.
Now Google has released a new YouTube Music app for Android and iOS which really puts an emphasis on music. YouTube Music also creates endless playlists automatically: as soon as one song ends, another will begin… turning your phone or tablet into a kind of jukebox.
YouTube Music is available as a free download, but if you sign up for a YouTube Red membership for $10 per month you get some bonus features including support for streamng songs in the background while you’re doing something else or even when the screen is off.
YouTube Red subscribers can also download an “Offline Mix” playlist to listen when you’re offline and flip a switch on any song to switch from video to audio-only to save bandwidth when streaming videos that you aren’t actually looking at. YouTube Red subscribers also get an ad-free experience.
Google is giving a 14-day free trial of YouTube Red service to everyone that downloads the YouTube Music app.
The more you use YouTube Music, the better the experience should get, since the app learns from your listening habits and offers recommendations and personalized stations. If you’re not sure where to start, the home page of the app is also a good place to find new songs and artists as well as a playlist called “The Daily 40” with some current top songs.
When you’re playing a song you can view the Explore tab to see related videos. And when you search for a song or artist, results will be broken down by artist, station, videos, and more… with top results at the top to save you time in most cases.
And if you tune into a station, you can bring up a slider that lets you adjust just how much variety the station should include: only want to listen to Metallica? Start the Metallica station and move the slider all the way to the left. Want some ’90s era rock? Leave the slider in the middle and you’ll get some AC/DC, Nirvana, and Guns N’ Roses mixed in. Slide it all the way to the right to increase the mix a bit more.
Overall, YouTube Music leverages Google’s enormous library of content to offer some features that are hard to find anywhere else. On the other hand, Spotify, Rdio, Apple Music, and even Google Play Music offer a more streamlined experience if you don’t essentially want an endless shuffle mode. If you want to play all the songs from an album in order, YouTube Music probably isn’t the best way to do that.
Of course, if you’re a YouTube Red subscriber you also get access to Google Play Music Unlimited, so you might just need to know which app to use for which kind of listening.