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Music videos give YouTube a clear differentiator from other services. Let’s not forget that Video Killed The Radio Star.
Services like Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music and even Amazon Music essentially all provide the same service, at basically the same price.
There are subtle differences in pricing across providers, for instance, Prime members have access to Amazon Music for $7.99/month — but for the most part, the same.
So Why YouTube Music?
For starters, YouTube has long been utilized as a music player — we’re all kind of used to it. For the longest time, and before I started paying for Spotify, YouTube was my main music source. No comment on my use of Limewire, and shout out to Napster.
Even if you are never going to upgrade to their premium music option, you are likely accustomed to skipping that ad after the 6-second countdown.
The Web Platform Is Well-Done
Strikingly similar to browsing Netflix, YouTube’s desktop platform draws parallels both aesthetically and functionally.
At first glance, start off by selecting some artists that pique your interest. This will build the taste profile of preference that should allow you to listen in the background and spend less effort cataloging music.
From the home page after you’ve selected your favorite artists you can see your interests and a number of top playlists curated by YouTube themselves. My preference looks to be rap first, rock later.
I don’t like that the top song playlists are all built by YouTube directly. This isn’t anything new for parent company Alphabet (Google).
Content creators have complained at an increasing rate over the years that Google (and YouTube) slowly dilute publisher influence by giving preferential treatment for their own products, and even potentially stealing content directly.
It would be great to see YouTube include playlists from the publishers that make the platform great in the first place.
I like that the video player stays with you as you’re looking for more content, trying to build playlists, etc.
Subtle things like this aren’t always easy to do, and my years in web development allow me to appreciate it more.
You Inherently Get More With YouTube Music
We already know all of the streaming services provide a similar service and pricing. And I’ve mentioned that video is the differentiator here.
But, how much does that matter?
One thing you’re getting with YouTube Music is access to live music and cover songs that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to on competing platforms.
Even with my Spotify subscription, if I want to hear a particular cover song I like, most of the time I end up on YouTube.
YouTube is well supported everywhere. Want to play music on your Roku TV? YouTube is already supported there. You can (should) expect excellent platform support across a myriad of devices that you might not otherwise get with other streaming services.
When To Avoid YouTube Music
If you’re already happy with your current music provider, then there may be no reason to jump ship.
Spotify still has my loyalty, and since its IPO in 2018 they’ve shown no signs of slowing down.
You’re an Amazon Prime member. There a number of fringe benefits that come with that membership, and a $7.99 monthly subscription can save you $24 a year — AKA a week of Starbucks.
Jay Z is someone you respect. It’s impressive what Jay-Z’s Tidal has done relative to the other giants in the space. While they offer niche features like high-resolution audio for double the price of their normal subscription, they’re still well behind pack in the streaming race.
You dislike Google (Alphabet Company). I’ve seen some of you die-hard Duck Duck Goers at the coffee shops, and futile as it might be, it’s honorable to try to spread market share in places that Google seems to control outright.
Try It Out
Ultimately, it’s the same content you’re already used to on YouTube — now it’s condensed into a dedicated section of the website that isolates just the music. It’s competitively priced (did they all call each other and agree on $9.99 a month?), and it’s a solid product.