Come for the music, stay for YouTube Premium
Subscription: $10/£10 per month
Size: 176.1 MB
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Developer: Google, Inc.
Update! YouTube Music joined a host of music-streaming apps a couple of years ago. Although it entered a crowded scene, we were impressed. Now, we’re revisiting the app to see if it’s still great, years later.
So what’s new? A few changes have reached YouTube Music in recent years. A new feature called Discover Mix serves up a personalized playlist of tracks based on what users have listened to and like – it’s great for discovering new tracks and bands, and for broadening your musical horizons. There’s also support for Siri, which CarPlay users will find useful. And YouTube Music also plays nice with Siri Shortcuts now, too. These updates make YouTube Music a viable alternative to Apple Music and Spotify, although there’s still nothing that truly sets the service apart from its competitors. A free ad-supported version is available to try out if you’d like to test the waters with YouTube Music. And like before, for a few dollars more you can upgrade your YouTube Music subscription into the full-blown YouTube Premium package.
Revised rating: YouTube Music is continuing to receive updates and new features, which is great to see. Although it’s not head and shoulders above the competition, it nevertheless remains a decent music-streaming app worthy of your consideration. ★★★★½
Our original review, written in July 2018, is presented in its entirety below.
We definitely don’t need another music streaming service. But YouTube Music is a little different, because for a few dollars more, it ships with the entire YouTube Premium package.
Let’s start by talking about the music app. YouTube Music is much like Apple Music and Spotify in terms of its core features: the monthly fee is the same (at $10/£10), it offers streaming or downloads for offline listening, and you can even AirPlay tracks to your Apple TV or speaker. A free ad-supported tier is also available to choose from.
There are music recommendation features, including personal mixtapes which are generated based on the artists you like, and you can also subscribe to artists or listen to curated playlists if you’re searching for something new. YouTube being YouTube, video features in the app in the form of music videos and live performances, and this is a nice addition (albeit one we’ve also seen in the app’s competitors).
However, YouTube Music is different in two ways, and these could lure subscribers away from Apple Music and Spotify. First, in YouTube Music you get access to the entire YouTube catalog: this includes the huge number of covers and originals which musicians have uploaded (and are continuing to upload) to the video site. If you often browse through YouTube watching new content, this could be one reason to ditch Apple and switch to YouTube Music. The app has an ever-expanding library, with new material being uploaded on a daily basis.
The other reason is YouTube Premium. YouTube Music can indeed be yours for $10/£10 per month. But for a little more, users gain access to YouTube Premium — formerly YouTube Red — which includes a number of additional services.
The $12/£12 monthly fee indeed gets you YouTube Music, but also YouTube Gaming and YouTube Kids, which are standalone apps. Additionally, YouTube Premium subscribers can watch videos ad-free, access original content, and even save videos from YouTube to their device for offline viewing. YouTube videos will also play their audio in the background once you’re a Premium subscriber, something frustratingly not possible through the regular YouTube app.
So this is YouTube Music’s biggest piece of bait for potential subscribers: for $2 more than the cost of Apple Music, you get a decent music streaming service and access to a suite of additional services and features.
Best of all, YouTube is offering free access to YouTube Premium on a trial basis for anyone who’s still on the fence. Take the service for a spin and see what you think — you could find that YouTube Music ends up becoming your new streaming service.