My husband finally decided to make the switch from a free Play Music account to a paid one, so I added Play Music to our family plan. Since then, he’s been thrilled with it. We’re also able to share playlists, which doesn’t often happen. And now, all of that is about to change.
If you read my previous post on Play Music, Is a Music Subscription Worth the Price?, you now know that I decided to keep the subscription after the free trial period ended.
A little more than a month after upgrading to the family plan, I found out that Google is going to faze out Play Music and switch everybody over to YouTube Music. Being a happy Play Music user for years, I wasn’t all too pleased to hear this, but I’m willing to trust Google. And honestly, how much can a music subscription change? And so, with this in mind, I decided to download YouTube Music and give the app a try.
Boy Was I Wrong
Because YouTube Music is so different from Play Music, I’m not going to compare them. They have the same selection of music, but work in slightly different ways and don’t look anything like each other. Play Music felt easier for me to use, but that could be because I’ve been using it for years. I know where things are and what to expect.
My best advice to anybody about to make the switch from Play Music to YouTube Music is to forget everything you know about Play Music and go into YouTube Music like a novice.
I downloaded YouTube Music, tapped on it and felt a bit lost. At the top of the screen is “A station built for you” and an image for a song (for me it was “Call Out My Name” by The Weekend). Beneath that is “Your Mixtape.” I tapped on it and was asked to choose some music types that I like. The list was long, so I bypassed it thinking I could go back when I had more time.
I scrolled through the list of music YouTube Music thought might interest me, none of it was to my liking, then went back to the Mixtape and tapped on it. I figured I could now choose my genres of interest, instead it played “Call Out My Name,” then a mix of music put out by drag queens and pop, which was not what I wanted to hear.
I later discovered that YouTube Music shares your history with YouTube, which is where I’ve been known to watch drag performances by Bianca Del Rio, Jinx Monsoon, Bob the Drag Queen, Shangela Laquifa Wadley, etc…
Where is My Music?
Since the Your Mixtape section of YouTube Music was a disaster, I decided to look for the music I own. There were three tabs at the bottom of the screen, Home, Trending, and Library. Play music also has a Library tab, which is how I get to the music I own. Finally, I was going to be able to listen to something I like, even if it was my own music.
The Library tab brought me to a place with familiar lists (Playlists, Albums, Liked songs, Stations), but they were all grayed out. Yes, there was nothing in any of them. It dawned on me that I had to start over and wait for Google to bring my music to YouTube Music, which I hope happens before Play Music goes away for good.
My music may not appear in YouTube Music until Play Music is officially fazed out, which nobody knows when that day will come. Google has not yet given an official date, although there is some speculation as to when it will happen.
The Trending tab at the bottom, middle of the screen gave me a selection of music I had no interest in hearing. The Home tab brought me back to the main screen.
Annoyed, I decided to do a general search for jazz and found an old school funk station, a soul station, and a west coast jazz station, all of which I liked. As the songs played, I decided to try the thumbs up and thumbs down buttons (something I rarely did in Play Music). I also searched for specific artists, found a few, and continued listening.
Some of you are probably wondering why I didn’t start out this way, and I was doing the same. This is also why I suggest going into YoutTube Music like a novice. Treat it like a new service, because it is.
The Moment it Clicked
As I started listening to music, the recommendations in the app began to display songs I actually wanted to hear. There were some that seemed to come out of nowhere, but the choices were getting a lot better. This was from actually using the app and telling it what I liked and didn’t like (thumbs up and down).
I decided to check out the Your Mixtape section again, and it finally had songs I wanted to hear! I was so damn happy.
Finding My Listening History
There were a couple of times when I was in the car and used Google Assistant to skip a song thinking that I could go to my history and give it a thumbs down, but had a difficult time finding my music history. I searched with no luck, then one night while the hubby and I were watching YouTube videos, I went into my YouTube history to call up a video I wanted him to see and found all the music I listened to in YouTube Music mixed in with my YouTube history.
Going back into the YouTube Music app, I decided to tap on my picture in the top, right corner. There it was! I don’t know why it’s not one of the tabs at the bottom like it is with YouTube, but it’s not. Also, you can only give a song from your history a thumbs up.
The Odd Bits
Other than not giving me access to the music I own, there are only three things that I find a bit odd about YouTube Music.
1. It doesn’t have a widget.
I like having the Play Music widget on my home screen, which gives me easy access to the controls, displays the cover art for the last album I played, and a simple tap on it brings up the app. YouTube Music does not yet have a widget, which I find a bit odd for a Google app.
2. It can be a data hog.
If you’re not on wifi, turn the video off. There’s a hidden toggle above the album art that you can change from video to headset. If you don’t see it, tap on the album art and it will appear. This is very important if you stream music in the car or in places without a wifi connection.
I have a 6 GB plan via Cricket Wireless, so it was odd when I suddenly got a text saying I had consumed 75% of my data. It was near the end of my billing cycle, but I’ve never come close to consuming 75% of 6 GB.
I’ve written about Cricket Wireless before.
3. Album art is displayed on the lock screen.
Play Music recently allowed users to not display album art on the lock screen. This was a huge bonus for me. Although I don’t often see the lock screen, I want it to display the wallpaper I chose and not what’s playing. When I found out they were allowing this in the settings menu, I went in and toggled it away. Play Music > Settings > Show album art on lock screen.
Most of the awkwardness I experienced with YouTube Music is because I’ve been using Play Music since the beginning. Originally, all Play Music did was stream music. You also had the benefit of storing your own library in the Google cloud for streaming. Over the years it grew into what it is today, which is a full music service compete with playlists and stations.
Since I’ve been with Play Music for so long, it knows my interests and is able to suggest playlists that might interest me. In time YouTube Music will do the same, perhaps even better. I may even come to love it just as much as I do Play Music.
Times change, and Google needs a bigger piece of the music pie, so their music service is going into re-branding and re-birth. Although YouTube Music is a different beast, it still gives me everything I had with Play Music and the extra benefit of videos. It’s new, so they’re going to find out what people want and give it a few tweaks, and hopefully at some point allow me access to the music I own.
I’ve been a fan of Play Music from the beginning, and knowing that it’s about to be replaced saddens me. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.