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Confirmation: YouTube Music to relaunch on 22 May as $9.99-a-month service


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There has been chatter for months about YouTube’s plans to revamp its music-subscription offering, with the company’s head of music Lyor Cohen talking regularly about the strategy to roll YouTube Red and Google Play Music together, while doubling down on recommendations and artist promotion. Now we know when all this is launching: Tuesday 22 May.

“YouTube Music is a new music streaming service made for music: official songs, albums, thousands of playlists and artist radio plus YouTube’s tremendous catalog of remixes, live performances, covers and music videos that you can’t find anywhere else – all simply organised and personalised,” explained product manager Elias Roman in a blog post this morning.

The Tuesday launch will cover the US, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea only, with Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK to follow in the coming weeks. YouTube Music will cost $9.99 a month, and – this is a surprise given past speculation – the new service will still sit alongside Google Play Music for now, rather than replacing it.

“If you are a subscriber to Google Play Music, good news, you get a YouTube Music Premium membership as part of your subscription each month. And if you use Google Play Music, nothing will change – you’ll still be able to access all of your purchased music, uploads and playlists in Google Play Music just like always,” wrote Roman.

YouTube Music will also sit alongside a separate ‘YouTube Premium’ subscription, which will cost $11.99 a month. It’s the replacement for YouTube Red, including ad-free, background and offline access to all YouTube content, including original shows, and a YouTube Music subscription included.

The blog post includes a new, important stat: “More than 1 billion music fans come to YouTube each month to be part of music culture and discover new music,” according to Roman – the first time YouTube has broken out a stat for its music users.

YouTube appears to have pressed the button on the blog post earlier than expected, after industry pundit Bob Lefsetz published his latest daily letter about a demo of the new service given to him by Cohen. Then tech-site Recode also ran a story overnight with the details of YouTube Music’s features and pricing.

“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.

The blogger also suggested that YouTube is working on an equivalent to Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist – “they say they’re gonna put that in” – and that the free trial for YouTube Music will be 30 days but “could go to ninety days, they’ve got carrier partners… it’s flexible”.

Stuart Dredge

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