(Pocket-lint) – Having only been announced in 2018, YouTube Music is a relatively new music streaming service, but it has come to replace Google Play Music, Google’s previous music streaming service. With YouTube Music, you can listen to official songs, albums, playlists, artist radios, remixes, and live versions of songs, as well as watch music videos.
It’s a free service to use if you don’t mind listening to ads every few songs, and it’s available through a mobile app or web player. The YouTube Music Premium tier is also available to remove ads, give you background listening on your mobile device (so you can exit the app and continue listening) and to enable you to download songs for offline playback.
What you can’t do with YouTube Music, though, is watch non-music videos, like cats playing the piano, or Charlie biting his finger through the rest of YouTube, but there’s plenty of access to music videos through the app.
How does YouTube Music work?
Like other music streaming services, YouTube pays a lot of attention to its discovery features. It says music is “easier to explore” with the music service and has an extensive catalog of not only official songs, but remixes, live shows, covers, and music videos to feature as well.
The home screen is always changing, whether you’re using the app or the web player. It updates to make recommendations based on your listening habits, but it’s also site-aware and can offer some music choices to match what you might be doing.
It is based on three tabs, Home, Explore and Library. The homepage is an amalgamation of everything, Explore allows you to easily find new music, like new releases, as well as dive into moods or musical genres. The Library tab displays playlists as well as any imported music you’ve brought from Google Play Music and any music you have on your mobile device. Whether you are using the web version or the mobile app, the music you imported from Google Play is available in both.
Videos also feature prominently in the app as well as in the browser, and when you select a song in the app, you are often able to decide if you want to listen to the song or watch the video. You can also partially switch, which is a nice feature. When using YouTube Music in a browser, it’s clearly a video-based experience like the rest of YouTube.
You can also like or dislike the music and this will help Google fine tune the selection of recommended music, so if you don’t like Ed Sheeran, you can give it a thumbs up and you’ll see fewer Ed Sheeran.
Do I have to sign in to use YouTube Music?
No, don’t. At least, not if you’re happy with the web version. If you head over to music.youtube.com, you can listen to the ad-supported version of the service. If you’re signed into the web version, you’ll be able to access any music you’ve saved to playlists, your favorite artists on the Home screen, as well as access music you’ve transferred from Play Music in your browser as well.
If you wish to use any broadcast aspect of the service through the smartphone app, you will have to sign in to your Google account. The app does not even show any streaming content without logging in. But once you do that, you will be able to access the free service without having to sign up. This will allow you to listen to tracks and watch videos, with occasional ads. If you don’t have a subscription, you won’t be able to play the background either, for example, once the screen is off, the music will stop.
However, there is an alternative solution.
How to play YouTube Music in the background without a subscription
There is a small loophole that allows you to play the free version of YouTube Music on your device without the need for a subscription. It’s basically the same process needed to run YouTube in the background, which we’ve detailed for iPhone here.
Heres how to do it:
- Go to music.youtube.com in your device’s browser.
- Open Settings and select Desktop mode.
- Tap to play the music you want to listen to.
- Turn off the screen.
- If the music stops, wake up to the standby screen on Android and find and play the media controls. On the iPhone, swipe up to Control Center and tap Run.
- The music should then start playing again.
To be honest, it’s a bit of a lengthy workaround and Android phones handle music in slightly different ways, so it might not work on all models, or you might have to find or enable the playback controls on the lock screen.
What happened to Google Play Music?
Google started shutting down Play Music in September 2020, discontinuing the old service and suggesting that users switch to YouTube Music instead. This ends Google Music purchases, and switches to streaming viewing instead. Google offered a way to transfer previous Play Music purchases to YouTube Music at first, but now Google Play Music has been completely turned off, so you can no longer do that.
How much does YouTube Music cost?
YouTube Music is available as a free ad-supported tier, much like Spotify. But there’s a nice feature of the mobile app, because you can’t use it to play music in the background (although, see above). For most people, a subscription will provide the best experience.
You can miss out on ads and offline listening with a YouTube Premium subscription, but there’s a bit of a complicated layering system in there. You can only subscribe to YouTube Music Premium or YouTube Premium. The latter costs more, but it also means that you can watch any YouTube video without ads, and you can keep the audio from any YouTube video playing in the background.
YouTube Music Premium:
- Student: $4.99 / £4.99
- Standard: $9.99 / £9.99
- Family: $14.99 / $14.99
- Student: $6.99 / £6.99
- Standard: $11.99 / £11.99
- Family: $17.99 / £17.99
If you’re a new user, there are plenty of trial options – you can get months for free or there’s also a two-week risk-free trial. Just keep clicking and you will be presented with these experiences.
What is the YouTube Music app he likes to use?
YouTube Music is remarkably simple in design and ease of use. Its home screen is tailored to your personal artist choices – which you make on your first visit – and is clearly laid out so you can instantly find recommended playlists and videos.
The main unique feature is that because their tracks are drawn from the entire gamut of content available on YouTube, there are thousands of shows that you can’t get anywhere else. All of them are available for viewing as video as well.
There are in-app controls to set streaming quality, from Low, Normal, High, Always High and these values can be set for both mobile and Wi-Fi streaming. You can also choose to play lower quality video on mobile and HD only on Wi-Fi.
There is a restricted mode to reduce explicitly tagged songs, although this is not protected, so the user can always turn it off – and it depends on the artist who flagged the content as explicit.
You can also download music for offline listening, either as individual tracks, playlists, or entire albums. This means you can listen without streaming either to save data or when traveling – and there’s an option to limit streaming to Wi-Fi only.
Written by Max Langridge. Editing by Cam Bunton.