Google Play Music Being Retired - Do We Have to Pay to Use YouTube Music?

Joining a long line of popular Google products, Google Play Music is being retired.

I have my music library uploaded to Google Play Music and use it to stream it on demand without ads and without fees. Google are suggesting I migrate to Youtube Music. Does Youtube music have the same functionality, or is it a paid service? Are there any other products I should consider?

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  • It requires you to have YouTube Premium ($15 a month or $9 for students), which I use quite a bit, so it’s pretty good for me. If you watch YouTube on a regular basis it’s a good deal. Having used YouTube music for more than a year though, I would say it’s not bad but not great either.

    One thing you can do is to get YouTube premium with an Indian account (search around the website for guide). That will cost you only a few dollars a month.

    • +6 votes

      VPN to India and sign up that way. Works out to be around $2.50/month.

      • I'm a bit reluctant to go the india/vpn route, it'd be pretty shattering if google cancelled my account, I have all my info with google - all my music, photos, emails, important docs.

        • It's fine…

        • I was pretty reluctant myself but did it with the recent Argentian deal and it's been great.

          Two caveats to be aware of:
          - I found I couldn't use my existing Google Reward play balance to pay for the deal. Kind of a bummer, but not end of world - I am ultimately saving much more than I received from surveys and can buy some random shitty apps
          - The "Top Music in your area" type tab is now filled with random Argentian music. I don't really listen to top 100 music but it was interesting every now and again just to see what's out there. No big loss for me but if it's your thing be aware.

          Otherwise it's great. Pay $2.50 or similar a month and receive all the benefits. Have had no concerns/issues/questions from Google, and most others are fine as well.

          • @DingoBilly: I'd imagine they'd have in their terms of service that you can't circumvent their geo-pricing. While it's not currently enforced, i'd hate to be on the wrong side if they did decide to start enforcing it.

    • I've created a new admin and a family account in India but then had to change all family members to India. I was a bit concerned, but had no issues.
      I keep paying through the Indian admin (Indian billing profile only).

      My billing profile was Australian, so I had to delete this profile (not the account, only the billing), create an Indian profile, add to the family, and then add my Australian profile again as my payment methods are from Australia. That was required for all members. Once it is added to the family, I am not sure if deleting the Indian profile (and keeping only the admin in India) could cause any issues so I have kept both India and Australia payment profiles.

      All my Play Music favourites have already been exported to YT Premium. I think I was used to Play Music and didn't like YT Music when I changed, but now it's fine. I watch a lot of Youtube channels, so Premium subscription is a must.

  • In my experience, it's pretty much the same except you choose to watch the video clip if there is one.

  • Probably operator error or something but sometimes I can't listen to music through my google home speakers and cast YouTube through chromecast at the same time anymore, says my account is already in use…sigh.

  • You can now upload your music to youtube music. AFAIK this was the only functionality that was stopping most people from switching over to YT music from google play music.

    • do you have to pay for it though?

      • yeah you do. i actually wasn't aware google play music is free as I've always had youtube red which advertised google play music as part of the subscription. I guess that's another difference between the two.

  • The cost of using the service remains the same while retaining mostly the same feature set.

    see FAQ

    I currently pay for a Google Play Music subscription, what does this mean for me?

    If you’re currently paying for a Google Play Music subscription, you can easily transfer your monthly rate and billing details (including your billing date) to YouTube Music by using the transfer tool. If you decide not to transfer your data, your subscription will be automatically cancelled at the end of your billing cycle for the month in which Google Play shuts down in your Country (some time between September and December). Rest assured that we will notify you when this happens!

    For 99% of Google Play music users, you should not notice much of a difference apart from having to re-learn the new YT Music UI and layout. You'll still have the machine-learning curated radio stations, downloadable offline playback, also subscribe to artists for new songs etc.

    You can think of Google just 'consolidating / merging' the service rather than outright killing Play Music.

    • If you’re currently paying for a Google Play Music subscription

      I am not

      I use the free functionality to store and listen to my own music, rather than the paid streaming functionality

      edit - with the free functionality I stream the music I own, but don't have access to the Google Music streaming library

  • So does that mean they'll let me remove the app from my phone now?

  • You can play uploaded songs in the background, ad-free and offline - even if you are not currently a YouTube Music Premium subscriber.

    • Perfect, this is what i wanted to hear! I hope the UX is not constantly trying to get me to sign up for premium

      • Most definitely it will. Even GPM was always suggesting I sign up for streaming.

        I did the transfer from GPM to YTM but haven't used YTM since or uploaded any new songs.

        Bit of a comparison here, looks like the desktop uploader I used before will no longer work on YTM.

        • I just opened up YT music for the first time since transferring my data across
          The first thing that pops up is a full screen page trying to get me to sign up
          not an amazing start

          edit - 2 mins later they've asked me to sign up again
          edit2 - navigation isn't not horrible, but it's a bit of a pain to navigate to your music, everytime you search it gives you youtube results by default, you need to click over to 'uploads' every single time you search, and there doesn't seem to be any settings page to change the behaviour

  • I think there are more comprehensive posts on this topic on other forums if you search for Google Play Music vs Youtube Music.

    Personally, I'm not a fan of YouTube Music in its current form:
    - music playback quality is not as high and more inconsistent (you will need to enable stats and google what different audio codecs are to see the differences)
    - perhaps after using GPM for so long it has learnt pretty well what sort of music I like. Even after using YTM for a month, the recommendations are rubbish in comparison
    - In GPM there were recommended playlists (called 'X Radio', whereby X was based on a song or genre). These were dynamic and usually starts well (the recommendations seem to get weirder the longer you listen to them). The YTM equivalent is static for me. Its always the same set of songs that never updates (maybe excluding the Top/Latest lists).
    - previously there was an issue starting to play YTM via bluetooth play (e.g. thru your headphones, in-car, etc). Supposedly this has been fixed in a very recent update but have not tried it s ince
    - In YTM, there is definitely a tighter limit on how many songs you have saved offline via the app - no known way to increase it to GPM levels.

    Essentially as a user, I don't see the migration from GPM to YTM as a win for users. I don't see myself gaining any new features that I was missing from GPM. YTM looks and feels better today than it used to (it used to be much worse). So they're going in the right direction, but forcing this migration at this point in time definitely feels rushed. It feels more like a cost-cutting exercise to consolidate efforts into one music platform than having to run two. I'll probably keep using GPM for as long as I can (in a month/two I think?)

    It's not all bad news. I think Youtube Premium (if you use it a lot like I do) is well worth the price tag.

      • music playback quality is not as high and more inconsistent

      I've been playing music through a speaker and every song I either need to raise or lower the volume.

      perhaps after using GPM for so long it has learnt pretty well what sort of music I like.

      I've only been on YTM for a few weeks and it hasn't picked up much. Even though I went and selected what music I like, it likes to give me a LOT of songs by basically only three artists. It's better than GPM for recommendations though, but mainly because I'm on the Indian plan so all suggested music was indian in nature. YTM does have a lot of playlists which is nice, however they seem to be music video based and that is likely why I need to constantly adjust the volume. In addition to that, some/most music videos have long intros or talking etc. Haven't had the privilege of Thriller yet though so that's a blessing.

      (called 'X Radio', whereby X was based on a song or genre).

      I do miss artist/song radio as it found new artists for me that I began to like. Hopefully they add something similar in the future.

  • It's easy to get a hacked version of Spotify if you're on Android with no ads.

  • If you just want to stream your own music that's sitting on your PC or home server, you might consider Plex. That's more or less what it is designed for.

    The basic Plex server/app is free. It's mainly designed for video but handles music fine. If you have a Plex Pass, they recently launched a dedicated music player app called Plexamp which is pretty good.

    • yeah, i was an early adopter on plex but I've moved away from it now that i'm not into hoarding tv shows and movies

      Great app, but i don't want to set up a home server or have my home PC permanently on.

  • I've got the freebie Google Play and upload my music. I switched to YouTube music and I think I put stuff up there, but I don't completely understand how to use it effectively.

    I found it useful when I was away from home and wanted to play something I hadn't previously downloaded to my phone. I've previously ripped many cds to my personal music collection, so not everything is from iTunes. Being able to suddenly listen to a heap of 80s music for example is what I enjoyed about having Google Play music.

    The few times I've had a look at the YouTube service, I can't really work out where my music is.

    • We recently got a Synology NAS and I have uploaded my music there, so I can just use their app to do the same thing when I'm away from home.

  • I use Ymusic. It's basically like YTmusic but free. You can also minimize the app or lock your phone while still listening to the music. The songs on your google cloud would also appear. Been using since years and I have no complaints. Link below if you would like to try:

  • Spotify $5.99 p/m student price

  • I just have all my music in mp3 320kbps or FLAC on my phone's internal storage. I have it all perfectly tagged from my ripping software, or edited with the excellent/free/opensource app, Kid3.
    My favorite players for android are: shuttle, blackplayer, and recently musicolet. All three of these are either free or have free versions that are ad free (just limited features).

    Local files are better than streaming:
    higher quality in some cases,
    no monthly fees,
    and you can have all your favorite tracks that aren't on spotify (rarities/b-sides/etc)

    In the desktop app for google play music, you have the option to redownload your library, in case you lost your originals, however, the tag data may not be as complete as the originals you provided.

    anyone can PM me if you wanna chat about it further. Good luck!

    • Thanks for the tip on Musicolet. So much better than either Youtube Music or Google play for playing all my local files.

  • I too have uploaded all my music to Google play music. By the way if you download your tracks I've found all the ID tags are stuffed.

    Anyway another option I've started to use is to upload to Spotify (local files) any music that I have that is not in Spotify (those b sides and raraties etc). You can then download these local files on your phone for offline play. It's a great feature if you have a Spotify subscription. I know you could just download your mp3s to your phone but having them in Spotify allows me to add my tracks to playlists etc.

    This explains it better than I have:

  • I subscribed to Google Play as an alternative to Spotify because it had virtually the same selection of music , was the same price but included the bonus of YT Red which cut out all the ads. It was a no-brainer, I couldn't understand why anyone would use Spotify. Now that Google Music is being replaced, it makes no difference to me as YT Premium now has all the Google Play features I need anyway.

  • I've been using Google play music to purchase my tracks (and not stream) for a few years now and I can't see any option for YT to buy tracks - just stream my existing library and/or subscribe to their streaming service. Besides Itunes, where can a person purchase music tracks or albums now legally? No wonder I still buy cds…….

  • If you don't pay subscription, you can't play music with phone locked with YouTube, you could with GoogleMusic. Play/skip buttons are on lock screen but greyed out.

  • I just got YouTube premium for no ads, music was extra