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YouTube Music relaunches as a subscription service that will replace Google Play Music


YouTube’s T.J. Fowler explains how the Google Assistant can make better music suggestions on YouTube’s revamped Music service


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Because Google knows where you go every day, when your next flight is and what websites you visit when you’re at home, it hopes to sell you on a new kind of music subscription service. 

Google is launching a revamped version of YouTube Music, its free music service, on Tuesday. The new, fee-based YouTube Music ($9.99 monthly) will eventually replace Google Play Music. That’s Google’s current music subscription service, which has been in the shadow of Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. 

The idea is that with the Google Assistant, Google’s smartphone app that uses artificial intelligence to help guide your life, subscribers to the new YouTube Music will find a service that makes smarter suggestions on what music to listen to. 

YouTube is currently the No. 1 home for online music, but most of the 1.5 billion monthly visitors use it to listen for free, via music videos. Ad-supported YouTube also has deals with the major record labels to run complete albums, and has a larger catalog of music than rivals, with more live, independent and band-uploaded material. 

But YouTube has lagged in attracting paying subscribers.  Spotify is the No. 1 paid music subscription service with 75 million subscribers, followed by Apple’s 50 million. 

Google execs Lyor Cohen and T. Jay Fowler wouldn’t give an exact timetable on when Google Play will go away—it could be as far away as 2019, Fowler said. In the interim, subscribers to Google Play will get to enjoy the former service, and the new YouTube Music, which will roll out gradually beginning Tuesday and become available to most of the United States within a few weeks. 

That’s not the only change coming to YouTube. The YouTube Red subscription service, which for $9.99 monthly had offered original video programming, a free subscription to YouTube Music and Google Play Music, and the ability to listen to music in the background, ad free, is getting a new name, YouTube Premium, and the bonus features will soon go away. 

The execs, who met with USA TODAY at the YouTube programming offices here, in the same building that’s home to Netflix execs, say YouTube Red’s perks for subscribers of YouTube Music (ad free and listening in the background) will go away for music subscribers, but that fans of the features can pay “a nominal” charge for them, says Fowler. 


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