YouTube Music, Google’s answer to Spotify, launched in Australia this week, claiming it will provide users with a “unique music catalogue”.
But how different is it to existing services?
Interestingly, the major music streaming services do not appear to be concerned with competing on price.
In fact, YouTube Music, Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music each cost the consumer exactly the same amount – an individual subscription costs $12 each month, while a family subscription costs $18.
So what are the advantages in subscribing to any one of these music apps?
What is YouTube Music?
YouTube Music, which launched in Australia and 16 other countries on June 19, is a new music streaming service that incorporates YouTube’s catalogue of video content, including live performances and remixes.
A spokesperson for YouTube, which is owned by Google, said it was targeting new users who do not subscribe to an existing music service.
“YouTube Music has a unique music catalogue that you won’t find anywhere else, which is highly appealing to the audience that already comes to YouTube for music content,” she said.
It has a free, ad-supported version and a subscription-based service called YouTube Music Premium.
The New Daily understands that YouTube Music will eventually replace Google Play Music.
Meanwhile, YouTube Premium – previously named YouTube Red – incorporates the new YouTube Music app, bundled with access to YouTube Originals series and movies, and other features.
How it stacks up against Spotify, Apple, Amazon Music
While on the surface, YouTube Music may seem no different than any other music streaming service on the market, it will possess some unique features.
Multimedia expert Dr Steve Collins said one point of difference between YouTube Music and Spotify is access to ‘value added’ content such as remixes, live performances and cover versions that do not feature in Spotify’s catalogue.
He said YouTube’s service also allows users to search by describing a song or typing in lyrics, as well as by album, artist or song title – courtesy of Google’s search data.
“No other company has really gotten into music video like YouTube has, so it’s a direct land grab before Spotify or Apple start to move in that direction,” Dr Collins said.
Digital music platforms expert Ben Morgan said the YouTube service would also be able to recommend music to a user based on their location.
“Integrating location services appears to be the main innovative feature that YouTube Music offers which others do not,” he said.
Screen media expert Marc C-Scott agreed, suggesting that in the future this could enable the app to create an individually-customised workout playlist when you arrive at the gym.
“What music service consumers choose would largely depend on what other services or devices they own, such as an iPhone, Google Home or Amazon Prime,” he said.
“The music services by themselves are the same price. But if a consumer starts to use services across multiple companies, it will start to get expensive.”
He added that Apple Music has the advantage of having been in the music space for a long time and the Apple ‘eco-system element’ – having an Apple device tends to make it easy for consumers to use Apple services.
Amazon has been focusing on capturing the voice-search market, while Facebook is understood to be launching its own music and video service later this year.
Mr Morgan said Apple Music has focused on developing more exclusive celebrity-curated playlists as one point of difference.
It has also claimed to offer more songs in its catalogue than Spotify, though Mr Morgan said he was not aware of a general perception of any single service offering more variety.
“Spotify’s music recommendation algorithm [The Echo Nest] is the most sophisticated song recommendation engine,” he said.
“YouTube hopes to challenge this claim.”