YouTube Music Faces Stiff Competition from Existing Music Streaming Services

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YouTube Music, revealed for the first time last month, will launch Tuesday to replace Google Play Music. Google has struggled to enter the streaming music business, but this might be its break. Its features are similar to both Apple Music and Spotify, offering a free level to get new subscribers while increasing services for premium members. These features include music downloads, no ads, and the ability to play music in the background for $9.99/month.

Both Apple and Spotify analyze your listening history to recommend songs to you, but Google is one step ahead here. YouTube Music will use Google assistant to drive its song suggestions. The goal is to use artificial intelligence to push subscribers to music that fits with their listening history. The service will recommend songs based on numerous factors including your location, time of day, and what you’ve listened to before. The recommendations might give you calm, relaxing music during work hours and high-energy beats during your afternoon workout, if you follow a pattern or schedule.

Google is cutting back in other areas to streamline their music and video services. They’ve replaced YouTube Red with YouTube Premium, which includes both ad-free videos and YouTube Music for a base price of $11.99/month, up from the previous rate of $9.99/month for an individual account. The announcement answers a lot of questions looming over the streaming music service launch from Google.

The biggest concern is who this is going to appeal to. Apple Music has over 50 million subscribers if you count its free users. Spotify has 75 million premium users and 170 million people using the service overall monthly. Slow growth numbers indicate there is room for Google to enter the market. YouTube boasts 1.8 billion visitors every month, many of them opting to “watch” music videos as a way to listen to music for free. Google needs to appeal to and convert these free users to paying subscribers to capitalize on the market. YouTube has the advantage of being widely known and used, which can aid in Google stealing some thunder.

Google will have the best luck attracting new subscribers who don’t already have playlists and recommendations set up with Spotify or Apple Music. There is little reason to switch, but plenty of reason for those who use Google home or an Android device to get a little deeper into Google’s services with a streaming music subscription.

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