Google has its own Spotify-like music-streaming service. Or, more accurately, Google has several music services, which have gone through multiple rebrands and changes over the years.
Currently, Google has three overlapping audio-related services. The first, and oldest, is Google Play Music. It lets you upload your own music, or pay for a subscription to access more than 40 million songs. It has machine learning-driven radio stations, curated playlists, and even a section to subscribe to and listen to podcasts. But it is also not long for this world; more on that below.
Then there’s YouTube Music. With YouTube, of course, you can find music videos for millions of songs—and watch them ad-free with YouTube Premium. But if you’re more interested in listening than watching, there’s YouTube Music. (Although, you can also watch music videos on YouTube Music, so yeah, confusing.) YouTube Music, which launched in June 2018, adds personalized radio stations, curated playlists, and a personal music library. Ditch the ads and unlock some other features with YouTube Music Premium, which costs $9.99 per month.
YouTube Music, Google Play Music, and Google Podcasts
Then there’s Google Podcasts. While not technically a music service, it’s notable for how it overlaps with Google Play Music—and more recently, YouTube Music. Currently, you can listen to podcasts through Google Assistant on your phone, Google Home devices, or the dedicated Podcasts app for Android or iOS. On the web, you can listen via search results.
Google Podcasts in Google search results
Google Play Music Is on the Chopping Block
In 2017, Google announced that Google Play Music would eventually merge with YouTube Red (which is what YouTube Premium was called until a May 2018 rebrand that happened alongside the launch of YouTube Music).
We then didn’t hear much about that until May 2020, when Google confirmed that Google Play Music will shut down later this year. The company is now encouraging affected users to transfer their music libraries and playlists to YouTube Music with a new one-click transfer method inside the YouTube Music app or via music.youtube.com/transfer. The process could take a few seconds or up to a few days to complete, Google says, but once it’s done, your audio recommendations should appear in the YouTube Music app.
Which Music Streaming Service Is Best?
YouTube Music earned a 3.5 out of 5 in our February review. We found that it leverages search giant Google’s massive database to deliver music and video to desktop and mobile, and while it’s not a groundbreaking streaming audio service, it does have a few interesting aspects.
Our Editors’ Choice music-streaming services, however, are Spotify, SiriusXM Internet Radio, and LiveXLive (previously known as Slacker).
Spotify, available in both free and premium versions, remains a top-tier streaming music thanks to its deep library, collaborative playlists, early album access, and podcasts.
Combining live radio and traditional streaming audio services elements, meanwhile, SiriusXM Internet Radio boasts the features and content to keep music, news, and comedy fans happy for a long time to come.
And the revamped LiveXLive combines the company’s live music streams with Slacker Radio’s knowledgeable DJs and deep music well to produce one of the most complete streaming music services on the market today.