Remember when the only way to listen to the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album was to buy à la carte songs for 99p on iTunes? Those days are but a distant memory thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of streaming services that bring the biggest label hits and indie stars straight to your ears. The latest addition: YouTube Music, which aggregates all of the millions of songs and videos on YouTube into one place, available on iOS, Android, and desktop.
YouTube Music has all the standard fare that we've come to expect from streaming apps: Ad-free listening (for a fee), exclusive releases, and recommended playlists. But it also has AI-powered search and discovery, so you can just in type the lyrics "don't make me spell it out" if you don't know or remember the name of the song and artist you're seeking. YouTube also says it will recommend songs based on where you are, suggesting that you'll need to turn on location services if you want the app to suggest songs perfect for a pre-flight listen at the airport.
In addition to original songs, the wide array of remixes, covers, and live performances that set YouTube apart from its competitors will also be on the app.
If you want ad-free streaming — anyone can stream for free with ads — and the option to download songs, you'll need to subscribe to YouTube Music Premium, which costs £9.99 per month. This cost is equivalent to the monthly charge for a subscription to Apple Music or Spotify Premium.
YouTube might be late to the music streaming game, but its already strong video library should set it up for success. However, it will have the difficult task of luring away current Spotify Premium and Apple Music subscribers, who are loyal to popular playlists on both, including Apple Music's "The A-List: Pop" and Spotify's "Discover Weekly." Of course, there's also the recently updated, completely free version of Spotify for those who don't want to pay for a streaming subscription beyond Netflix.
Early access is currently only available in the U.S., Mexico, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, with wider international availability due in the weeks to come.