YouTube Music or Google Play Music? Google Music Services explained

Google has its own music streaming service similar to Spotify. Or, more accurately, Google has several music services, which have undergone multiple rebrands and changes over the years.

Currently, Google has three overlapping audio-related services. The first and oldest is Google Play Music. It allows you to upload your own music or pay for a subscription to access over 40 million songs. It has machine learning-based radio stations, curated playlists, and even a section to subscribe and listen to podcasts. But this world is not long either. more on that below.

Then there’s YouTube Music. With YouTube, of course, you can find music videos for millions of songs—and watch them ad-free with YouTube Premium. But if you’re more interested in listening than watching, there’s YouTube Music. (Although, you can also watch music videos on YouTube Music, so yeah, it’s confusing.) Launched in June 2018, YouTube Music adds personalized radio stations, curated playlists, and a personal music library. Remove ads and unlock some other features with YouTube Music Premium, which costs $9.99 per month.

YouTube Music, Google Play Music and Google Podcasts

Then there’s Google Podcast. While it’s not technically a music service, it’s notable for how it overlaps with Google Play Music—and more recently(Opens in a new window), YouTube Music. Currently, you can listen to podcasts through the Google Assistant on your phone, Google Home devices, or the dedicated Podcasts app for Android(Opens in a new window) or iOS(Opens in a new window). On the web, you can listen through search results(Opens in a new window).

Google Podcasts in Google search results

Google Podcasts in Google search results

Google Play Music is on the chopping block

In 2017, Google announced that Google Play Music would eventually merge with YouTube Red (this was called YouTube Premium until a rebrand in May 2018 that happened alongside the launch of YouTube Music).

Then we didn’t hear much about it until May 2020, when Google confirmed that Google Play Music would be shutting down later this year. The company is now encouraging affected users to transfer their music libraries and playlists to YouTube Music with a new one-click transfer method within the YouTube Music app or via music.youtube.com/transfer(Opens in a new window). The process can take a few seconds or up to a few days to complete, Google says, but once it’s done, your audio suggestions should appear in the YouTube Music app.

Which music streaming service is the best?

YouTube Music earned a 3.5 out of 5 in our February review. We found that it leverages search giant Google’s massive database to deliver music and video to desktop and mobile, and while it’s not a groundbreaking audio streaming service, it does have some interesting aspects.

However, our Editors’ Choice music streaming services are Spotify, SiriusXM Internet Radio, and LiveXLive (formerly Slacker).

Spotify, available in both free and premium versions, remains a premier music streamer thanks to its deep library, collaborative playlists, early access to albums and podcasts.

Combining elements of live radio and traditional audio streaming services, meanwhile, SiriusXM Internet Radio has the features and content to keep music, news and comedy fans happy for a long time to come.

And the revamped LiveXLive combines the company’s live music streams with Slacker Radio’s skilled DJs and deep music to produce one of the most comprehensive music streaming services on the market today.

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