Some transitions are simple and seamless while others are messy and unwelcome. Note that my experience switching from Google Play Music to YouTube lies somewhere in between those extremes. But now that I’ve lived with YouTube Music for almost two months, I like some of its unique features and embrace change more and more.
As you may recall, Google has been plotting to switch from Google Play Music to YouTube Music for years, but things really heated up over the past year: YouTube Music (YTM) has replaced Google Play Music (GPM). ) in Android starting last Android 10. And in May, Google announced that it was starting to migrate existing libraries and GPM accounts to YTM.
As a G Suite paid customer with a custom domain, I knew I wouldn’t be in the first wave of subscriber conversions – that’s how these always worked – and certainly, I didn’t like so. But I was surprised when I finally saw an invitation to move my GPM library to a YTM pop-up in GPM app in mid-June.
I immediately accepted the offer because I was very curious about how this process works and I know that I can continue to use GPM and YTM in parallel for many months to come if the later application doesn’t work. readiness for my needs immediately. According to the cloud-based transfer start-up wizard, Google will copy my music, playlist, and station recommendations (their later part will be converted to normal playlist), likes and dislikes, uploads and buys and albums and songs in my library from GPM to YTM.
Furthermore, my subscription has been transferred to YTM, so I now have a personal YouTube Music Premium membership instead of a GPM membership. (This still gives me ad-free YouTube, which I really believe in.)
When I triggered the transfer, the application noted that it could take “several hours” and I was very much looking forward to it given the size of my library, so I didn’t even try to babysit. Instead, I checked my phone the next morning and saw a message warning that the transfer was completed. (That means you can switch as many times as you want, so you can do it again in the future if you’re not satisfied with YTM and keep using GPM.)
After the transfer finished, I started using YTM, yes, I’ve tried it before. But the app takes a whole new dimension with my music collection copied over and it gives me a better base for comparison.
For anyone familiar with the GPM mobile app, transitioning to YTM can be a bit daunting at first. The apps use completely different user interfaces with different navigation models, and GPM does a better job of leaving you in the part of the interface – in my case, the Music Library – which you normally would most used. Meanwhile, YTM puts you in the default Home view every time you open the app, so I have to manually navigate to the Gallery and then whatever I want (usually Playlists ). That is not one big deal, since YTM top-level UI shows three tabs – for Home, Discovery, and Gallery – but it’s an extra step or two.
Many of my playlists, most of which include subscription-based music (from Google’s cloud-based library) but also contain dozens of songs that I uploaded to the service as they weren’t available there, apparently all was done correctly and that was my number one concern. I have used various third-party services to do things like migrating my GPM music library to Spotify for testing purposes (and before that, moving from Groove Music) and only had sporadic success. . This move seems to be going well.
That’s good enough. Another good thing is the way YTM handles what I call the Now Playing experience. Of course, the actual Now Playing screen differs slightly between GPM and YTM, but they both look and work well enough, while supporting familiar swipe-based gestures to skip to the next track, etc. And aesthetically, I find the YTM display more appealing. (It also allows you to easily access lyrics and music videos when available, along with related music.)
Maybe this is just a personal affair, but when I actively listen to music – for example, when my wife and I sit in the solarium and enjoy a night of music over the Sonos speakers there – I often find myself sweeping Upcoming playlist and modifications to it. This comes in two forms: Remove songs that I was not interested in at the time and rearrange the order of the songs. In GPM, both of these actions are very easy: You can swipe a song in the playlist to delete it, you can touch and hold and drag the song to rearrange its position in the playlist. book.
And yes, both of these actions work the same in YTM. The problem is that YTM lacks the capabilities I rely on with GPM: You cannot control Sonos from the YTM app as you can with the GPM app. So I had to use the Sonos app to start a playlist and then manage the Now Playing list. And in the Sonos app, you can’t delete or reorder songs in the Now Playing list without going into the Special Edit mode first. It turns something fun into something tedious. So I’d like to see Google add Sonos control to YTM.
One very The cool benefit of YTM is that you can access songs – and actually videos of songs – available only on the YouTube video service. For music lovers such as myself, this is an incredible advantage: YouTube has what should be the greatest collection of what I would call non-standard music anywhere. . You get live versions of songs (and entire concerts), leaked song demos, and all kinds of other content you’ll never find in Spotify, Apple Music, or anywhere else. And these songs can be added to your playlist, giving you a different musical path. So in addition to subscription-based music and music uploaded by me, I now have access to YouTube-only music.
Beyond this concept, any playlists you create on YouTube show up in YTM. My wife and I are huge fans of the live / performance music that musicians have provided since the beginning of the pandemic and so I created the Music Isolator playlists to collect all of them for enjoy later. Of course, we can watch this playlist on TV using the YouTube app. But I can also listen to this music through YTM, and I can mix and match individual songs into my playlist.
I like that very much. But now that I know I can create a playlist on YouTube to use YTM in the future, I have accessed the old service a bit too. For example, Def Leppard recently released an album directly from his Las Vegas residence, available on GPM / YTM and all other major music services in the US and so I have access to access to that in YTM. But the band has also released a similar live album from O2’s UK residence, and there are some additional songs that we don’t get here in the United States. So I can add those songs to a YouTube playlist and then access them via YTM. Pretty!
(Less efficient. YouTube playlists aren’t music also is displayed in YTM. For example, I’d never want to listen to my Web Dev playlists instead.)
Because I’m a paid client, I’m protected from some of the issues, or at least uncertainty, that free GPM users face. For example, that service allows anyone, even free users, to upload tens of thousands of songs for free to the service so they can access them from the cloud at any time. With YTM, it is not clear whether this possibility will continue or not.
But even paying customers no longer have access to the Google Play Music Chrome / Edge extension, which provides a great music library upload extension. With YTM you only get the standard Open File dialog, so those with rich collections to upload face a daunting task. (And it’s unclear whether free users will keep this capability.)
YTM provides separate tabs for individual (upload) and subscription-based songs in the gallery view – Playlists, Albums, Artists, Songs, etc. – which is ridiculous. But one thing I like is that these gallery views can be ordered alphabetically (in either direction) or by “Recently Added”, which of course puts new music at head. GPM does not provide this capability.
Since doing the conversion about two months ago, I’ve been completely attached to YTM and added new tracks to the existing playlist and created new playlists. In doing so, I’ve pretty much made sure I can’t go back to GPM, even temporarily. But that also forced me to reconcile with the differences in user experience and get used to how YTM works. Overall, I still mash up on the respective UIs – there are still things about GPM that I just prefer more – but the transition is doable. I feel like it’s sticky.
That said, I know I’ll run into device limit issues soon, as I did every year with GPM: Google allows you to connect your account to up to 10 devices (mobile and web / PC), this is fine, but you can only delete (deauthorize) four devices per year. Since I review a lot of devices every year I always run into this limit and basically have to beg Google support to reset it. So far they have been doing so every year, but these limitations remain with YTM and I’m afraid of this session of support.
Anyway, it’s not perfect, but so far so good.