YouTube Music as a service has been around for about three years now, though it really only existed in earnest once the revamped version of
YouTube Music is so unfinished and lacking features that I question whether Google has any intentions of following through with its vision of replacing Google Play Music entirely. Put simply, I can't believe Google thinks anyone will pay $10 per month for it when all signs point to Google itself not caring about YouTube Music's success.
YouTube Music effectively doesn't work with
YouTube Music also still doesn't work with
YouTube Music doesn't integrate with Google's other hardware or services, so why should I care?
Then there's the Music app and website, which are just rudimentary. Building playlists is clunky and feels tacked-on. Search is an odd mix of actual songs, tracks from compilation albums, and a weird sprinkling of YouTube videos. I want music, not music videos or weird tracks uploaded at low fidelity to YouTube then transposed over to the Music side. Nor do I want my YouTube history and home page filled up with "YouTube Mixes" suggestions. I want YouTube to be where I go for video content, and YouTube Music for just music. Stop trying to make this cross-pollination happen, because it just adds a bunch of cruft and hurts both services.
This whole situation is complicated (and actually alleviated) by the fact that Google Play Music still exists.
Play Music's existence is also the reason why many of these complaints with YouTube Music are in vain. So long as you don't have problems with device de-auth limits (which I do, but recognize it's not a big deal for most people), Google Play Music is still available and a better overall product than YouTube Music.
YouTube Music has little benefit over Google Play Music, but several shortcomings.
YouTube Music is really good at one thing: automatically generating a never-ending playlist of songs based on your listening history, and letting you "like" or "dislike" songs as they come up to tailor the suggestions. Sound familiar? It's precisely the experience YouTube has honed over the years, so it's no surprise that YouTube Music is exceptional at this one thing and very little else.
Outside of this, YouTube Music basically has two things going for it. The first is cost: YouTube Premium, which removes ads from YouTube and gives you background listening and downloads, is $12 per month and includes YouTube Music. You can easily justify YouTube Premium at $12 per month on its own, making YouTube Music effectively "free," and making
I'm paying $12/mo purely for ad-free YouTube, and getting Music for $0. Because that's all it's worth.
At this point, I'm paying $12 per month purely for an ad-free YouTube experience, which I feel is absolutely worth the money, and getting YouTube Music as a side benefit. And as it stands, I'm going to keep using Google Play Music instead, because the YouTube Music experience is so bad there's no way I'd pay for it independently. YouTube Music does a couple things well. It's not a complete failure. But the fact that I can't use it either at home or in the car, despite using Google's own hardware and services in both, is baffling. The app and website aren't yet ready for prime time, and the half-baked integration with YouTube just gets in the way of both services.
Look, I understand why Google's transitioning its music efforts to YouTube. An incredible number of people already use YouTube for music, and it's clearly a stronger brand than "Google Play" — particularly outside of the Android world. Moving to YouTube Music is an attempt to leverage that strong brand to start making consistent subscription money off of everyone who's currently listening to music videos in a browser tab. But that brand isn't worth anything if the YouTube Music experience is severely lacking as a standalone product. As soon as Google shows me that it cares about YouTube Music, I'll start caring about it too.