Google’s YouTube Music and Play Music apps have always been two ships in need of a single rudder, offering an overlapping set of features with separate logins and interfaces. Now, Google has taken the first step toward streamlining its music streaming experience.
According to a report by The Verge, Google has merged its YouTube Music and Google Play Music teams into a single unit, marking the first step toward a possible creation of a unified experience across a single app. While a subscription to Google Play Music or YouTube Red already includes access to the other service (and both have a decent chunk of content that can be accessed for free), Google told the Verge that improvements to the way the two services interact could be coming:
“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. Nothing will change for users today and we’ll provide plenty of notice before any changes are made.”
When asked about the rate of YouTube Red signups during Alphabet’s fourth-quarter conference call last month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai also alluded to some changes to Google’s music streaming strategy. “We have YouTube Red, YouTube Music and we do offer it across Google Play Music as well,” he said. “You will see us invest more, more countries, more original content. And we’ll bring together the experiences we have over the course of this year, so it’s even more compelling for users.”
How it may play out: Streaming is rapidly becoming one of the music industry’s biggest business, but it’s unclear how much of the pie Google actually owns. Spotify is still far and away the biggest music streaming service with some 40 million subscribers, but Apple Music is gaining fast, having crossed the 20 million threshold after just a year and a half. However, while Google has yet to release any subscriber numbers for either Play Music or YouTube Red, which are bundled, it has a built-in advantage by pre-installing the app on most Android phones, much like Apple does with Apple Music. And a simple, single experience across YouTube and Play Music could prove to be a serious threat to Spotify’s dominance.