According to several sources familiar with the change, the product teams working on YouTube Music and Google Play Music are being combined into a single unit. Nothing will change for users right now, and both apps will continue to exist independently for the moment. But the move is likely to pave the way for a single unified music app from Google.
The business development teams behind these two apps actually combined last year. That made it simpler for Google to negotiate deals with labels and artists. And subscribing to YouTube Red already gave you access to both services. The rational behind producing two distinct apps has always been a little muddy to me. Here’s what I wrote when YouTube Music first launched:
“The fact that YouTube Music and Google Play Music both exist is a touch confusing, especially since you can use them both for free, but they both add a bunch of features if you subscribe to YouTube Red. The best way to understand the new music app is to think of Facebook. Just as the social network broke out Messenger into its own so it could optimize the experience, YouTube now has dedicated apps for its three most popular verticals: kids, gaming, and music.”
A spokesperson for Google confirmed the two teams were combining and offered the following statement: “Music is very important to Google and we’re evaluating how to bring together our music offerings to deliver the best possible product for our users, music partners and artists. Nothing will change for users today and we’ll provide plenty of notice before any changes are made.”
Combining apps makes sense at a time when the average consumer has stopped downloading new apps or is actually cutting down the number of apps on their phone. And the streaming music business is increasingly competitive, with Apple and Amazon ramping up their offerings and Facebook reportedly eyeing an entry to the market as well.