YouTube Music — the new YouTube Music, I mean — is Google’s big push to finally create a subscription streaming music service that catches on and can legitimately challenge Spotify and Apple Music. It’s currently rolling out on Android and iOS, but the staggered launch means it’ll be awhile before everyone can actually use YouTube Music. Google Play Music, the company’s existing premium music app, isn’t going away in the meantime. “Nothing will change about Google Play Music in the near future,” Elias Roman, who has been a product manager for both services, told The Verge today.
Google has said that it will give users plenty of notice when it does decide to make big changes. A migration to YouTube Music should be seen as inevitable for everyone using Google Play Music right now. It’s just not the focus anymore. Google’s T. Jay Fowler confirmed that playlists, collections, and preferences will eventually transition over, but what about other aspects of Google Play Music that users really enjoy?
Specifically, I’m talking about the ability to upload songs or entire albums that might not be in the YouTube Music catalog for convenient streaming across all your devices. Amazon Music recently got rid of user uploads altogether, so in the lead-up to YouTube Music, I was a bit concerned Google might follow that lead. Thankfully not. After a few days of uncertainty, Google has confirmed to The Verge that YouTube Music will take on all of the key features of Google Play Music. And that includes user uploads.
Google’s current goal is to move GPM subscribers over to YouTube Music at some point in 2019. But it sounds like the company is in no hurry to make that switchover, so the target might slide a bit. By the time it does happen, Roman said that all of the major cornerstones of Play Music will have been added to YouTube Music. Aside from cloud uploads, that will also include the ability to purchase music instead of just renting it monthly. Roman also mentioned support for sideloading, which I assume is the ability to play audio files stored locally on your phone.
Apple allows users to upload hard-to-find music through either Apple Music or a standalone iTunes Match subscription ($24.99/year). If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, it’s a nice benefit. But I’ve always preferred Google’s cloud as my place for storing the stuff that is unlikely to ever reach Spotify. For one, it’s free. You can upload up to 50,000 songs without paying any monthly fee. It’s also much easier to correct Google’s occasional mistakes and force an upload of a track that it falsely matches with something on Google Play Music. There’s still no simple way of doing that with Apple’s services.
So I’m very glad uploads are still part of the plan for YouTube Music.