YouTube Music will launch in the US, South Korea, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand on 22 May, and will become available in another 14 countries in the following weeks.
Variety received a preview of the service earlier this week from the company's Lyor Cohen and T. Jay Fowler, and while it is in many ways similar to other major streaming services, a key advantage is that it is able to draw on YouTube's vast video archive for recommendations and links - not bootlegs or user-uploaded music, but officially sanctioned videos such as "Saturday Night Live" or BBC performances, as well as related non-musical content like televised artist interviews. It's particularly popular in emerging markets where you can see YouTube listeners on public transport or other moments that Spotify and co would want to own.
"They're incorporating all your viewing on YouTube to build your favourites", noted Lefsetz - those gasps of horror you can hear are parents everywhere thinking about all those nursery-rhymes their kids binged in the past while logged in to the parental account.
There's a lot of questions to be answered here about how this affect their Google Play Music streaming service (and their cloud locker), as well as Family Plan users signed up for YouTube Red and we're going to have to wait for Google to answer them when they launch the service next week.
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YouTube will also launch a premium service that will charge more for its original shows.
In addition to YouTube Music Premium, Google is re-branding YouTube Red as YouTube Premium.
YouTube Premium success, however, will depend on one factor that YouTube Red has so far failed to address: YouTube Originals. While it has no shortage of such shows, very few can be named, much less remembered, outside of the circles that follow YouTube celebrities around like royalty. To an extent, Cobra Kai is the first of its kind to test if YouTube has what it takes to be a VOD king as well.
UPDATE: That was fast. Here are the details. The timing is weird, but this is indeed Google's new streaming music service that will be at the forefront of their music push. There will be an ad-supported free version and a $9.99/month YouTube Music Premium subscription to remove ads, enable background listening and offline playback.
Google is launching a revamped version of YouTube Music, which is set to replace Google Play Music in the future. Google Play Music will remain for now and subscribers instantly get YouTube Music Premium as well. But because it includes our brand new YouTube Music service, the price will be $11.99 for all new members.