YouTube today expanded YouTube Music and YouTube Premium to the services’ first new markets since they officially debuted last month.
The Google-owned video-streaming platform announced the two services in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Mexico on May 16, and revealed at the time that they would be landing in a bunch of new markets “in the coming weeks.” From today, YouTube Music and YouTube Premium are also available in Canada and 11 European markets: the U.K., Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, and Sweden.
YouTube Music takes the form of a more traditional music-streaming service — such as Spotify or Google’s other music-focused service, Google Play Music — offering official audio tracks, albums, artist radio channels, pre-built playlists, remixes, covers, and personalized playlists. But given that this is built upon YouTube, the service also includes music videos and live shows. It basically saves you from switching between multiple apps to consume audio- and video-based music content.
Road to launch
The route to YouTube Music’s launch hasn’t been entirely straightforward. The YouTube Music app had existed in a handful of markets for a few years, but that version was rather different from the one that launched last month. The original YouTube Music was a free, ad-supported service that provided millions of audio- and video-based music recordings. However, you could make it ad-free via a $10/month YouTube Red subscription, which also unlocked a handful of extra features, including offline access, background listening, original video content, and ad-free access to every video on YouTube — not just music.
YouTube Music is available as a free, ad-supported service, but it also ships with a standalone subscription, priced at £9.99/€9.99 in the U.K. and Eurozone, respectively. Additionally, YouTube has now officially launched a YouTube Music Premium Family plan, which it apparently hadn’t done at last month’s inaugural launch in the U.S. and elsewhere. The plan includes up to six family members and costs $14.99/£14.99/€14.99 per month.
In addition to YouTube Music, the company has also expanded the availability of the overarching YouTube Premium service to the aforementioned new markets. Formerly known as YouTube Red in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Mexico (before its rebrand last month), YouTube Premium will cost an extra £2/€2 on top of the YouTube Music Premium subscription and includes background video playback, downloads, and original YouTube video content, such as Karate Kid spin-off Cobra Kai.
Background playback is a particularly important feature of both YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium. Without it, users have to keep the YouTube Music app active in the foreground, meaning that if they start using another app, for example, the music will stop playing. For that reason, it’s difficult to see YouTube Music proving all that popular without a subscription.
Google hasn’t really managed to gain the kind of traction that Spotify and Apple Music have found in the music-streaming realm. But its trump card is YouTube, which is among the top video-streaming destinations globally. Now the company wants to leverage that clout to make its mark in audio-based music — via a single platform that merges video with audio.
“People come to YouTube to be part of music culture and discover new music,” the company said in a statement. “But YouTube was made for watching, which meant fans have had to jump back and forth between multiple music apps and YouTube. Those days will soon be over.”
YouTube Music also adds to the company’s growing number of standalone apps — of which there are currently seven, including YouTube, YouTube Music, YouTube Go, YouTube Kids, YouTube Gaming, YouTube VR, and YouTube Studio.
The new YouTube Music service will be landing in more countries throughout 2018.