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What is YouTube Music?

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What is youtube music imusician

YouTube Music (YTM) is a music streaming service like Spotify, Deezer or Apple Music. Like these services, YouTube Music has a huge catalog of songs (over 80 Million). It is also a subscription-based service with a free tier, and monthly and yearly packages. YTM offers a couple of additional features that the other streaming services do not.

What is YouTube Music

Youtube music screenshot

YouTube Music Desktop Overview

YouTube Music is the follow-up service to Google Play Music. In 2018, Google announced that by late 2020 Google Play Music would stop its services. The only streaming service from Google would now be YouTube Music. Users were alerted to transfer any of their own uploaded music and self-made playlists over to YouTube Music in the months after the announcement. On October 12, 2020, songs could no longer be purchased on Google Play Music. On December 1, 2020, Google Play Music stopped its streaming service.

YouTube Music was started in 2015 as a competitor to Tidal and other music streaming services. It can be used as an app on iOS and Android, but also through the YouTube Music website. It also allows, like Google Play Music did, the upload of your own music collection (see below). There is a free tier for YouTube Music and there is YouTube Music Premium.

What is YouTube Music Premium and what are its advantages

YouTube Music Premium costs 9.99 Euro/Dollar per month or 99.99 Euros/Dollars annually on an individual account. There is also a family plan for 14.99 Euro/Dollar per month, where up to six people per household can be included. In addition, YouTube Music offers a student plan for those who are eligible (confirmation happens through SheerID) for 4.99 Euro/Dollar per month. Each of the three packages can be tested for free for one month.

In comparison to the free tier, YouTube Music Premium offers a variety of additional features. First, you get to listen to the catalog ad-free, so there will be no interruptions from ads while listening. There is also an “audio-only” mode that can be activated in a premium plan. Here, the songs you choose will only be loaded as audio, not as an additional video, so you can listen to YouTube Music even if you are experiencing low cellphone reception. In addition, you can download songs for offline listening. That way you can listen to music when there is no cell phone reception or your data plan is used up. Offline downloads can be listened to for up to thirty days.

You must also have the premium plan in order to listen to songs through Google Home or Chromecast audio. Most importantly, YouTube Premium allows you to listen to music on the iOS and Android app in the background, meaning the music will keep on playing even when you open any other app. Finally, as a premium subscriber, you can even travel to a country or region where YouTube Music is not available and still use all of its features for up to six months. Audio-only and Travel mode only work in the YTM app, not on the website.

What is the difference between YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Premium

YouTube Music Premium is not to be confused with YouTube Premium. YouTube Music Premium only refers to an ad-free music streaming service. If you subscribe to YouTube Premium, you can claim a YouTube Music Premium package for free. In comparison, YouTube Premium costs 11.99 Euro/Dollar a month or 119.99 Euro/Dollar per year. The family plan costs 17.99 Euro/Dollar per month or 215.88 Euro/Dollar per year. And the student plan costs 6.99 Euro/Dollar per month or 83.88 per year.

In addition to all the perks of YouTube Music Premium, YouTube Premium subscribers can download any YouTube video for offline viewing in the YouTube app. They also get access to YouTube original shows. Similar to YouTube Music Premium, subscribers can let videos continue to run in the background in the YouTube mobile app while using other apps. Furthermore, watching videos on YouTube as a YouTube premium subscriber is ad-free.

Uploading your own music collection to YouTube Music

To avoid any initial misconceptions: this feature does not allow you to get your music into the official YouTube Music catalog or that of any other music streaming service. It does allow the upload of up to 100,000 (!) songs from your private music collection! You can play all uploaded songs in the YouTube Music app or on your YouTube Music web account - even with the free tier! However, the upload only works through the website from a computer. There is currently no way to upload music through the YouTube Music apps on iOS or Android.

In order to upload (supported file formats include FLAC, M4A, MP3, OGG, and WMA), go to the YouTube Music main website and log in. Then, simply drag any music file from your computer onto the site and the upload will start. Additionally, you can visit, click on your profile picture in the top right corner and then select “Upload Music”.

You can then listen to all of your uploaded music through the website and the apps. Listening to your own uploaded music through YouTube Music remains ad-free and can run in the background even in the free tier. This, however, only works for your own account on your registered devices. You can not send an uploaded song’s link to a friend to listen to it. Also, if you send a playlist to a friend and that list contains songs that you uploaded, your friend will not be able to listen to those songs.

How to put your Music on YouTube Music

If you want your music to be included in the catalog of YouTube Music so it is accessible for everyone, you go through a distributor like iMusician. The process goes as follows:

  1. Sign up for an account on iMusician
  2. Select “Start a release” in the iMusician dashboard
  3. Select and upload the songs and cover art work that you want to be distributed
  4. Get paid and keep 100% of your revenue.

If you upload any single song, or EP or LP with songs that do not have a dedicated music video, YouTube Music will automatically create so-called Art Tracks on your artist profile on YouTube. These songs just include your release’s cover art and the song as audio and can be played on YouTube like any other video.

Music Videos or Art-Tracks Videos: How do they look for free and paid subscribers

Youtube art tracks liotta seoul

YouTube Art Tracks Video of Liotta Seoul "Powerdrill"

If you are a free subscriber, ads run before music videos and songs on the YouTube desktop app. If you are a premium subscriber to YouTube Music, all songs run ad-free. Songs that do not have a music video on YouTube just play like any song on Spotify or Deezer. This is similar when using the iOS or Android app: ads-free for premium users and ads for the free tier. In addition, you can also opt out of music videos being shown as a premium subscriber. In the audio-only version, music videos are not played even if they exist for a song. That way you can still listen to music if your cell phone reception is bad or you have trouble with video playback. Music videos are always shown for users of the free tier.

How do I claim my youtube music artist profile

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When you claim your artist profile on YouTube Music you can change the profile picture and the text. That way you can determine what users see when they visit your profile. This profile is connected to the “Official Artist Channel” on YouTube. If you're a customer, you can claim it directly through iMusician. YouTube for Artists specifically states that in order to claim your Official Artists Channel, you must “contact your label, digital distributor, or YouTube partner manager”. You can not claim it directly through YouTube.

Once YouTube grants your channel with the “Official Artist Channel’' status (it usually takes about a month), every change you make on your YouTube channel’s profile in terms of profile pictures, public playlists, or info, is reflected in your profile on YouTube Music.

YouTube Music playlists

Youtube music playlists

YouTube Music's playlists

When you first create an account in YouTube Music, YTM will automatically import some of your playlists from your normal YouTube account. Any playlist that had music on it such as songs, albums, or concerts, will be imported from YouTube to YouTube Music. In addition, you can easily create playlists in YouTube Music by simply selecting “Add to Playlist” and then “New Playlist” when right-clicking (web) or tapping (app) a song. If you liked a particular song, you can give YTM a thumbs-up, which will teach YouTube Music’s algorithm what music you like and therefore, what else it can recommend to you.

In comparison to Spotify or Apple Music, user-generated playlists are still in their infancy on YouTube Music. Most playlists are generated by YTM’s algorithm. Editorial playlists exist for topics like “Best of 1970s”, genres like “Grime Hotlist” or moods like “Late-Night Rendezvous”. These are created by the YouTube Music team based on a song's popularity. In order to get onto these lists, your song has to already be quite popular on YouTube. If that is the case, then the selection will happen automatically. There is currently no other way to get on to those playlists.

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