I got into the early access of YouTube Music, and after a few days, I’m genuinely confused. When I first pulled up the interface, it looked very similar to Google Play Music, however with just a darker theme. Many of the buttons and graphics look the same, and that extend into even the fly-out menus.
It made me wonder why they didn’t just re-brand Google Play Music and give it a dark theme. It seems like that would have been a simpler solution. Instead, you get a half-finished product, that I’m not sure I really want.
One of the joys of many online music streaming services is their radio stations. It’s fun to discover new music and I’ve managed to find some really good music this way. When I explored YouTube Music I saw that many of the same stations appeared to be in YouTube Music as well as Google Play. These canned stations appear to be the same, which is great. However, there are big differences when it comes to artist generated stations.
I clicked on the “Radio” button next to Trampled By Turtles, and got a playlist that was incredibly eclectic, and frankly, just not that relevant. Whereas GPM gave me artists like Mandolin Orange, Avett Brothers, and Greensky Bluegrass, YTM went the direction of Mumford and Sons and Bon Iver. I just found the selections of YTM to be much less tuned to the actual style that I was looking for.
Also, there’s no way to browse stations.
This is a pretty simple one. Google Play Music allows you to upload your personal library, YouTube Music doesn’t. Granted, many other providers don’t either, but it’s a significant difference.
At first, this didn’t seem like a big deal. When you open up the YouTube Music app you’re not inundated with videos or anything like that. It’s all very hidden. Even the user generated playlists don’t show up as videos, just as other radio stations for you to try. It all seemed like no biggie, and that I wouldn’t be forced into watching videos all the time.
Then, just today, I just happened to look at my YouTube history and saw that every single song I played in YouTube Music are showing up as videos played on YouTube. This bugs me to no end. The last thing I want is for my random music browsing to influence what YouTube thinks I might want to watch, and vice versa. These are two worlds that I have no interest in joining.
In fact, this integration might be the thing that pushes me to a different music subscription service. I just don’t want those two aspects of my entertainment to merge, and it bugs me that YouTube would assume that I would. Maybe I’m just over-reacting a bit, but I feel like it’s OK to have some lines of delineation between the different aspects of my digital life.