BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Because Google knows where you go every day, when your next flight is and what websites you visit when you’re at home, it hopes to sell you on a new kind of music subscription service.
Google is launching a revamped version of YouTube Music, its free music service, on Tuesday. The new, fee-based YouTube Music ($9.99 monthly) will eventually replace Google Play Music. That’s Google’s current music subscription service, which has been in the shadow of Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. There is also a free, ad-supported version.
The idea is that with the Google Assistant, Google’s smartphone app that uses artificial intelligence to help guide your life, subscribers to the new YouTube Music will find a service that makes smarter suggestions on what music to listen to.
YouTube currently is the No. 1 home for online music, but most of the 1.5 billion monthly visitors use it to listen for free, via music videos. Ad-supported YouTube also has deals with the major record labels to run complete albums and has a larger catalog of music than rivals, with more live, independent and band-uploaded material.
But YouTube has lagged in attracting paying subscribers. Spotify is the No. 1 paid musicsubscription service with 75 million subscribers, followed by Apple’s 50 million.
Google execs Lyor Cohen and T. Jay Fowler wouldn’t give an exact timetable on when Google Play Music will go away — it could be as far away as 2019, Fowler said. In the interim, subscribers to Google Play Music will get to enjoy the former service and the new YouTube Music, which will roll out gradually beginning Tuesday and become available to most of the United States within a few weeks.
That’s not the only change coming to YouTube. The YouTube Red subscription service, which for $9.99 monthly had offered original video programming, a free subscription to YouTube Music and Google Play Music and the ability to listen to music in the background, ad free, is getting a new name — YouTube Premium — and new pricing.
Current subscribers to Google Play Music and YouTube Red will continue to pay $9.99 monthly, but new subscribers signing up for the service will pay $11.99. YouTube Premium subscribers will get access to the original, ad-free YouTube and a complimentary subscription to YouTube Music.
Subscribers who want to just get Premium without the Music won’t have the option.