YouTube has taken the wraps off its latest genre-specific app — YouTube Music — aimed at boosting consumption of free music content on the service, as well as driving users to its recently launched $10 monthly subscription service.
Unlike Spotify, Apple Music or Google Play Music, the YouTube Music app is engineered to let users discover new music. For any song or artist you choose, YouTube Music automatically creates a playlist, culled from the more than 30 million licensed tracks on YouTube as well as live versions and fan-created videos.
The app’s development was led by T. Jay Fowler, YouTube’s director of music product management. Fowler is a former exec at MOG, the music-streaming service acquired by Beats (now part of Apple).
“With YouTube Music, you’ll get a completely new type of experience, designed to make discovering music on YouTube easier than ever,” Fowler wrote in a blog announcing the service. “No matter where you start in the app, the music will never stop.”
The YouTube Music app launched Thursday as a free download for Apple iOS and Android devices. Currently, it’s available only in the U.S. The new app replaces YouTube Music Key, which Google launched as a beta subscription service a year ago.
The YouTube Music app is free, but includes ads. Subscribers of YouTube Red will be able to play music in the background, get ad-free videos and have the ability to listen to music offline. YouTube Red also includes audio mode that lets you play songs in the YouTube Music app without loading the videos. In addition, YouTube Red includes full access to the Google Play Music streaming service.
YouTube Music doesn’t let users create playlists, however — the focus, Fowler said, is on music discovery and nonstop music. “There are other services, like Google Play Music, for that use case,” he said.
Other features of the app: The home tab recommends tracks and personalized stations based on a user’s listening history. It also returns the official versions of songs high up in searches, flagged with an “official” tag, while it also pulls in remixes, covers, lyric videos and concert footage from YouTube.
YouTube and Google claim they have paid more than $3 billion to the record industry and artists to date. The Internet giant’s pitch to the music biz is that it now provides three forms of monetization: ads on free YouTube, subscription revenue from YouTube Red and transactional dollars from Google Play Music.
Watch a promo video for YouTube Music: