Google is Making Changes to YouTube Music

Posted on October 21, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in YouTube Music with 25 Comments

Google revealed today that it will improve the functionality of YouTube Music for both paying and non-paying customers.

“Last week, we shared with our YouTube Music listeners that background play will soon be available in Canada, free of charge, beginning on November 3, 2021,” a YouTube Music support document explains. “Alongside this update, some features will become exclusive to YouTube Music Premium listeners, such as on-demand music selection and unlimited skips. These changes are coming to Canada first, and we’ll keep everyone posted on global expansion plans – stay tuned.”

As noted, those who listen to YouTube Music for free with advertising will soon be able to listen to music in the background—meaning while they use other apps. But they are gaining additional features too, including the ability to shuffle-play personalized mixes, access activity-based mood mixes (for things like workouts, commuting, and more), and access a collection of thousands of playlists and millions of songs.

Those who pay for YouTube Music Premium have additional privileges, though none of these seem new to me. (I think these are things that have been taken away from the ad-based tier.) These include the ability to listen to any songs on-demand, watch videos on YouTube Music, skip tracks an unlimited number of times, and enjoy YouTube Music without ads.

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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Google is Making Changes to YouTube Music”

  1. zeromus2003

    I am no Apple fan, but Apple Music is the best of these services and I have tried them all except for Qobuz. Not happy with crappy iTunes on PC, but the Android app is ok. Who the heck uses YouTube music after they got rid of the excellent Google Play Music??? (Serious question)

    • christianp

      I absolutely agree with you 100%. With lossless audio (a real step-up for those with Bluetooth headphones) and an excellent music library management system - I can’t quite imagine why anyone would choose to use YouTube Music. I genuinely can’t stand it - it lacks so many basic features. If it weren’t for YouTube Premium, I wouldn’t go near YouTube Music with a ten-foot pole. I’m hoping the new, cheaper ad-free YouTube option will come to more countries so I can use that instead of paying for more features I don’t want.

    • omen_20

      I was annoyed with how long it took them to move music from GPM to YTM but once they did I have enjoyed it. I much prefer it to Spotify or Apple Music. It's the only service with a real web app. All the rest are just old website that require way too much space to be functional. I have YTM installed as a PWA and use PowerToys to pin it to the side of my ultrawide. Works like a mobile app very well, same as YouTube.

    • silan

      Also using Apple Music thanks to an 8 month free-trial, and even on android it works better for me than YM. Only thing missing is the ability to add artist to the library.

      But for me it really doesn't come close to Deezer, their app is just amazing. It runs so intuitive and compared to it, Apple Music just appears sterile (for example the settings). They also have the better desktop-app, although Apple Music on the Web is really usable.

    • christianwilson

      I use Apple Music but I have YouTube Music through our YouTube Premium family plan and I do use it occasionally. I like it and have no problems with it. I have better luck with Apple's recommendation algorithm for music discovery, but YouTube Music works well enough.

    • krusador

      I've tried to use it, but it's just so bad in comparison to GPM. Especially the personal library functionality. It's just awful.

      • omen_20

        My friend prefers Spotify due to the library feature. I don't see the need for a library at all. I use playlists; some for years, and others for genres. Yearly playlists get a # at the front in order to arrange them at the top. I find this works far better in practice than a library managed by the service. I don't care what the app thinks the genre is, it is what I feel like it is, and maybe it belongs in multiple. I don't care when the song actually came out, I care about when I listened to it the most. I can go back to playlists from several years ago and it takes me back in time.

      • Paul Thurrott

        I literally use it every single day and was a long-time Google Play Music user. And I have no issues with it at all.

        • miamimauler


          How do you put up with your normal YT recommendations being polluted with all of those music videos? Don't you want your normal YT and YTM to be separate?

          I've been a subscriber since the YT Red days but had to also subscribe to Spotify just to stop Google infecting my normal YT with music.

          • omen_20

            I never see music except for channels I subscribed to. No clue how this was affecting you unless you were part of an A:B test in the early days.

        • christianp

          It’s good you enjoy using it although it does seem you might be in the minority, Paul. I do like live music that is generally exclusive to YouTube (or YouTube Music) but I’m just as happy having a playlist dedicated to that on YouTube itself. You don’t find the lack of library management in YouTube Music frustrating?

    • bluvg

      Incidentally, Scoble has an interesting post about what's coming with Apple Music sound quality-wise (not the pointless "lossless" offerings) that he claims no one else will match. Perhaps a bit fanboy-ish, but we'll see.

    • pete

      Agreed. In my opinion Apple Music has the best UI and features. I am a subscriber even without owning any Apple devices.

    • bluvg

      The app is a bummer compared to GPM, but YT has a TON of stuff you just can't find elsewhere. Sadly, some is encoded at low bitrates, but at least it exists.

    • j5

      Apple Music' UI and navigation is poor compared to Spotify. I've tried almost all the music services and Spotify has the best UI and navigation for phone and desktop app. It's "neat" they have music videos but I've never heard anyone, actual Apple users I know, talk about it.

    • leoaw

      For the most part, YouTube Music has the songs I'm looking for (except for ones by Don Henley.) I have the family plan, so being able to share music and purchased videos/books with 5 other people plus ad-free YouTube for all 6 of us at $14.99 is a great deal.

      Apple Music is tempting for its wider catalog. But unless YouTube Music loses more artists, the features it has are a greater draw than just the music provided with Apple Music.

  2. kexzslein

    Youtube Music is awesome and I love it.

  3. JH_Radio

    I have it because I subscribe to youtube premium. I rarely use it other than to find mixes that I can't find on appel music. I actually like Tidal the best for its UI on apple at least. for android I find Amazon Music easier but don't like it as much on apple devices. I haven't actually tried Youtube Music on android yet. This is using either voiceover on apple or Voice assistant for Samsung. I find the native apps integrate best on their prospective platforms. meaning that Apple music does best on apple devices, Amazon Music does best on Alexa devices, etc. I haven't tried spotify yet because of no lossless audio support.

  4. yoshi

    I had the YT Premium family plan for a while but eventually we switched to Apple Music. I absolutely hate it in comparison. But unfortunately I'm the only one. So I stick with it for their sake.

    • ivarh

      I am a huge youtube consumer and have been paying for youtube red since it became available down under. However, for music, I pay for apple music and iTunes match. I used to use GPM a lot but once they canned that product and apple came out with "free" lossless and Dolby atmos I have moved all my music listening to apple music.

      Apart from lossless support the thing that keeps me paying for a apple one is the family sharing features and the fact that that means apple music gets 6 concurrent playbacks shared between the family members. If my wife picks up my iPad to play some music this means that I don't get kicked out of my streaming even if the iPad is logged in as mee. The family gets 6 concurrents playbacks and they can all be used by the same user. I remember when we used google play music and my playback in the car got cancelled when my wife started playing music at home. Apple does provide far much value for $$ in this spesific case.

      • yoshi

        That is a great point. We briefly tried Spotify and ran into that issue with the Nest speakers we have around the house. They are all signed into my name. So if I was at work streaming music, I'd suddenly get booted off if someone at home started music through a Nest. With Apple Music, never an issue.

  5. crunchyfrog

    I happen to subscribe to YouTube Music and Apple Music services. I really don't care for Apple Music's interface, especially in the car.

    For me, Google Play Music was the best and after it was replaced with YouTube Music, I was and still am disappointed with the way it was overhauled. I have thought of moving to Spotify, however the one feature that keeps me going is that Google still allows me to upload and play my own music files without trying to upgrade or alter them in some way. This is a great feature that lets me listen to some of my old stuff on the go.

    Unless something has changed, I believe YouTube Music is still the only one offering this option or perhaps I am grandfathered in on this.

    • nine54

      I don't love Apple Music's UI either, but based on the comments around recommendations and sound quality, it sounds like I need to give the service another go (I do have a subscription). I agree that GPM was great. I started trying out YT Music a few years ago and found myself using it more and more to the point where I stopped using GPM long before it was shut down. YT Music had a big overhaul a couple of years ago, and my take on it is rather mixed. I preferred the older UI, which made more sense on mobile devices, but more importantly, I think the recommendation engine was better--it's why I stuck with YT Music. Recommendations still are good, I just think they were better before the overhaul.

  6. rob4jen

    I'm a YouTube Music Premium subscriber and where it really falls down is in it's playlist shuffling. It usually shuffles in exactly the same order - defeating the purpose of shuffling.

    And through Android Auto it will only shuffle through about the first 30 songs of playlists that are hundreds of songs deep. Annoying.

  7. spanx

    I was quite happy with Google Play Music and stayed on after the transition to YouTube Music. I stay with YTM only because I want YouTube without commercials. I would never consider YTM as a separate subscription since the apps and web interface is awful. I'm probably in the minority in that I prefer to build a library of music by album, which is also how I listen to my music. I don't create any playlists. It's easier just to use radio stations if I want to hear individual songs by various artists. The YTM interfaces (app and web) are incredibly cumbersome for listening to a library of albums.

    Aside from playlists, the three primary views are Song, Album, and Artist. All of these views are inflexible and difficult to use in the car if you have a library that is of any significant size. I have a library with one or more albums from a few hundred artists, so not small, but not large.

    The Song view is completely worthless since it is just a massive scroll list. I can't imagine ever wanting to try to scroll through 5000 songs, and certainly not while driving. The Album view is also worthless because you can't sort it by artist and I certainly don't know the names of hundreds of albums in my library. Even if I did, the navigation is painful since it is once again a huge scrolling list with no quick-scrolling features.

    That leaves the Artist view. It is similarly cumbersome/dangerous to actually locate an artist while driving since there are no quick-scroll features to quickly move to artists starting with 'R', for example. Once you click on an artist, you get a list of all the songs in your library by that artist. There's no option to view by album. This is fine if you only have one album for an artist, but if you have several, you once again have no easy way to play an album.

    It would be very easy to make the apps easier to use with your existing music library by making a couple of minor changes. First, add quick-scroll features to all of the views (by letter, for example). Next, get rid of the separate Album view and the Song view. Then just provide the option to display your Artist view by song (as it does currently) or by album (what I would like). Then use playlists for everything else.