Google is notorious for having many services that do similar things, like its array of chat apps. Google’s music services have been fragmented for years, but the company may change that soon. According to a report from The Verge, YouTube’s head of music Lyor Cohen stated at the New Music Seminar conference in New York last night that YouTube Red and Google Play Music should merge to make a singular, cohesive service.
Although the report doesn’t mention YouTube Music (which is a another separate service), it’s safe to say that all three streaming offerings could be combined into one. Google merged the YouTube Music and Google Play Music product teams together earlier this year, and that move came shortly after the business development teams for both services merged in 2016.
Google didn’t confirm or deny the merger, but the company did say users would be given notice well before any big changes occur. “Music is very important to Google and we’re evaluating how to bring together our music offerings to deliver the best possible product for our users, music partners, and artists,” reads the statement in the report. “Nothing will change for users today and we’ll provide plenty of notice before any changes are made.”
YouTube Red, Google Play Music, and YouTube Music are all similar and confusingly connected. YouTube Red costs $9.99 per month and provides an ad-free YouTube experience, background listening for videos, and access to Red original programs. Also with Red, you get full access to Google Play Music as well as the ability to use the YouTube Music app for offline and background listening.
Google Play Music is also $9.99 per month and is Google’s equivalent to Spotify, providing ad-free music streaming, the ability to create playlists and upload local music files, and offline listening. Without a subscription, Google Play Music gives you access to ad-supported radio stations. If you subscribe to Google Play Music, you also get access to YouTube Red.
YouTube Music isn’t a replica of Google Play Music; it offers a free, ad-supported way to listen to music and watch music videos through its dedicated mobile app (which is separate from the YouTube app). You can’t create your own playlists in YouTube Music, but the service makes a “My Mix” list of curated tracks you may be interested in based on previous listening. You do get some perks if you’re both a YouTube Red subscriber and a YouTube Music user: no ads, offline and background listening, and the ability to switch from video to audio-only playback.
It’s unclear what the merger would look like. Combining YouTube Red and Google Music would basically be an exercise in rebranding, since users of one of those services have access to all the features of the other already. Adding in YouTube Music may require more clarification for users on exactly which features they get for the allotted subscription price. Either way, one robust service will be easier for customers to understand and compare with the likes of Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music than three very similar, yet separate services.
Ars has reached out to Google for further comment.