I Started Using YouTube Music

And it’s about damn time.

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I’ve been waiting to use YouTube Music for a long time.

I mean… a long time… Like, ever since they announced it, way back in the 1900’s (or thereabouts). It was fresh, it was new, and it was Google. And for all the spying I know Google does in my life, their services are, more often than not, unparalleled (Google+ notwithstanding).

And frankly, I’ve tried them all. I’ve had Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Microsoft Groove, even Deezer. Each has had its benefits, and its detractors. But I’ve always come back to Google Play Music.

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Google Play Music (All Access, for those who remember the full name), for me, had the perfect blend of features. It was the first service to get me into making playlists (mainly because it wouldn’t let me download individual songs from albums, and no one wants the entire album on their device, and so building playlists became my way around that little quirk). And it was the only service to allow me to upload my existing music collection- including albums it didn’t have- free of charge; by comparison, Apple only stores music as long as your paying for the service, and while Spotify lets you add your own tracks, it doesn’t let you store them in the cloud.

But Google Play Music is getting old. While the core features continue to work- and work well- I can’t help feel that it is getting behind the times. For example, for how much Google is tied into my life, it never seems capable of telling me when a new album is released for an artist in my collection. And despite knowing my strange taste in music (movie soundtracks and Eisley), the new release recommendations always seem lacking.

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Enter YouTube Music. When Google announced it, it seemed like a godsend for their aging service. With exciting new features (like including music videos from YouTube proper) and the promise to bridge the two services- transferring playlists and libraries- it seemed too good to be true.

And in part, it was. The features are there, for the most part, but that bridge was never built. Certainly, Google says it is still coming, but without my curated library and extensive list of playlists, I felt there was little reason to start using it yet. So while it was downloaded on my phone, I rarely touched it, waiting and waiting for the inevitable announcement that my music would soon follow me to the new service.

And, frankly, I forgot about it. Until this week, as I sat contemplating switching services again. Once more I was becoming frustrated that Google Play Music had allowed another new release to slip by unnoticed, and I began thinking about Apple Music or Spotify, both with their exceptional recommendations. But I didn’t want to pay for another service; Google Play Music is, essentially, free to me, because I’m already paying for YouTube Premium. And even if I were using Apple or Spotify, I’d still be paying for YouTube Premium, because damn commercials.

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And that’s when I remembered YouTube Music was also bought and paid for with that subscription. So I set upon a long task: I’ve started manually migrating my music to YouTube Music. It’s a tedious task, to be sure; even with services like Tune My Music moving playlists across platforms, there are songs missing, and lots of backtracking and looking up. But I’ve gotten enough of my stuff over that YouTube is starting to become useful to me.

The Mixtape feature, for one, is essential for my daily drive to work, now, providing a steady stream of music I’ve confirmed I enjoy with music that Google thinks I’ll like, based on the former. And even though I’ve only copied over maybe a fourth of my total collection, YouTube has already proven it’s smarts. For example, today it found two songs I hadn’t heard in years, songs which I thoroughly enjoyed, but would have never looked up.

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YouTube Music’s new release playlist has also proven quite smart; while I haven’t listened to this week’s entire list yet, I’ve already added over 50% of what I’ve been offered to my library (with the similar list in Spotify, I’d probably only add one or two songs a week, if that).

The one feature I wasn’t too sure about was the video feature. While I enjoy a good music video, I have always preferred my playlists to consist only of songs. But now that I’ve come to YouTube Music in full force, I’ve realized what an important feature this is. For example, YouTube Music doesn’t have the soundtracks to Battlestar Galactica (I know, everyone is clamoring for those albums…), but the songs are still there, in the form of videos from YouTube. Same goes for songs that have never been released (a personal pet peeve of mine), such as songs from Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events or Stargate Universe. And when it comes to listening to a song, there’s not much difference whether that song has a video attached to it or not. In fact, the existence of videos makes much of my personal collection superfluous; I can find almost all of the tracks YouTube Music doesn’t have through videos, so by the time my collection finally does arrive, I may not even have missed it.

Frankly, I waited a long time to come to YouTube Music, and now that I’m here, I wonder what took me so long. And I’m sure, once I finish getting all of my favorite tracks found in the new service, Google will finish building that bridge they’ve been promising.

But for anyone who’s held on to Google Play Music for this long, like me, I recommend you give the new service a try. After all, Google has made it clear that YouTube Music is here to stay. We’d better get used to the idea.

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I am just clever enough to get myself in trouble…

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