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Revamped YouTube Music is Google’s latest effort to take on Spotify

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By Trevor Mogg

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In its latest effort to sort out its music- and video-streaming subcription offerings, Google-owned YouTube looks set to launch a revamped version of YouTube Music on Tuesday, May 22.

YouTube executives confirmed to several publications that the new service will cost $10 a month, in line with competing music-streaming services, and will “eventually” replace Google Play Music. Anyone interested will be able to try out the refreshed service for free before deciding whether to subscribe.

Described by Recode as “functionally the same” as the existing version, YouTube Music will, however, prioritize audio over video, and focus on improved personalized playlists based on a user’s YouTube history.

YouTube Music will be “largely devoid of video,” according to CNET, which has seen the redesigned YouTube Music app in action. It said the app’s home screen lets you scroll through lots of recommended music and playlists, including “individualized selections of new releases, a My Mixtape personalized playlist, collections similar to an artist you’ve been listening to a lot lately, a selection called Throwback Jams, before you get to recommended music videos and professional clips of live performances.”

Also on Tuesday, May 22, YouTube Red, which offers original and ad-free video programming for a fee, will become YouTube Premium. The new video and music service will only be accessible to new users by adding an extra $2 to the monthly YouTube Music subscription, taking the cost to $12.

YouTube Premium will include YouTube Music with background listening anddownloads and more original series and movies. Current YouTube Originals includeYouTube Originals the Karate Kid-inspired seriesCobra Kaiand dance dramaStep Up: High Water. Upcoming series include sci-fi thrillerImpulse,andLiza Koshy’sLiza on Demand.

Existing YouTube Red members will be able to access YouTube Premium with no price increase. In countries where YouTube Red is currently available, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and South Korea, you can still sign up for YouTube Red at the current $10 (U.S.) subscription price — just act before May 22.

YouTube plans to continue expansion during 2018. Countries where YouTube Premium will rollout soon includeAustria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

With so many people hitting YouTube for their music fix, Google has always felt well placed to attract people to a subscription-based music service. But up to now, the company has failed to nail it. It kicked off with Google Play Music in 2011, but its performance has been disappointing in comparison to rival services such as Spotify and Apple Music. In 2014, it followed up with Music Key, offering subscribers ad-free music videos, but a lack of interest saw Music Key succeeded by YouTube Redin 2015.

Now Google is hoping the latest changes to its various subscription services will finally start to gain traction among music fans and help it to be a real player in the paid-for music-streaming space.

The revamped YouTube Music service will see a gradual rollout in the U.S. starting on Tuesday, with select overseas markets also targeted.

Updated on May 17: Added additional information about YouTube Premium pricing, content, and future availability.

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