While there are many apps that stream music, and stream it well, Google Play Music is Google's tentpole music service, and as such is an app that comes on millions and millions of devices. While we know that Google Play Music will not live forever, I for one am going to enjoy it for every second that we still have it!
Everything you need to know about Google Play Music's future
Is Google Play Music shutting down?
Right now? No, Google Play Music is not shutting down in the immediate future. Google shut down the Artist Hub on April 30, but Google Play Music itself has no sundown date at this time.
In the somewhat distant future? Yes, Google has stated:
"With the launch of YouTube Music last year, we eventually plan to replace Google Play Music with YouTube Music."
YouTube Music is supposed to take over for Google Play Music, but seeing as YouTube Music only had its overhaul and relaunch a little under a year ago, the service isn't ready to take over yet, which means Google Play Music is safe for now.
When is Google Play Music getting shut down?
We don't know when Google Play Music will be shut down yet, and Google hasn't released any kind of long-term timetable. While we could make guesses, there's really no telling how long the migration to YouTube Music because there's still so much that needs to happen before it could happen, including but not limited to:
- Feature parity achieved between Google Play Music and YouTube Music
- Libraries migrated to YouTube Music
- Past purchases and purchase functions migrated to YouTube Music
- User uploads and upload mechanism migrated to YouTube Music
Step one, feature parity, still has a long, long way to go, and let's not forget that this is a plan with a lot of moving parts and a lot of things that can — and will — go wrong and will need to be tested, coded, and tested again by the developers on the unified YouTube/Google Play Music team. There's a lot that still has to happen, and I personally doubt that Google Play Music will shut down before 2020.
What is shutting down in the near future?
Artist Hub, the mechanism that indie artists used to manage and distribute their songs through the Google Play Music subscription catalog and Google Play Store, was shut down April 30. When this happened:
- Songs and albums managed through Artist Hub ceased to be available for purchase on the Google Play Store.
- Songs and albums managed through Artist Hub ceased to be available to Google Play Music users via subscription catalog or free radio functions.
- If you purchased indie artist music that was managed through Artist Hub, that music remains in your library.
Google is directing artists that used Artist Hub to work with one of its "YouTube partners" to make their music available for streaming and purchase once Artist Hub shuts down, but for users, all you really need to know is that some music from indie artists not associated with larger record labels vanished from Google Play Music's catalog on April 30.
What will happen to my library?
Like so many aspects of this migration, there's a long answer and a short answer to this question. In the interest of time, the short answer is that your library will migrate to YouTube Music before Google Play Music shuts down.
The long answer is that your Google Play Music library is made of up to three types of content, and each type of content could potentially be handed differently during the migration:
- Purchased music will be migrated to YouTube Music, and while it should retain a method for download for use with another platform, we don't know how that function will work in YouTube Music as YouTube Music doesn't have a method for downloading files beyond saving for offline playback, which isn't the same thing.
- Uploaded music will be migrated to YouTube Music, as will the personal music upload function and the 50,000 song limit. We don't know how the personal library uploads/downloads/management will work for YouTube Music and if it will use any/all of the current upload mechanisms in place for regular YouTube uploads.
- Subscription music — the music you clicked "Add to library" for — should translate and repopulate in YouTube Music when libraries migrate over, but there's a few caveats here to keep in mind:
- The subscription catalog Google Play Music has varies from the subscription catalog YouTube Music has. They are under separate streaming agreements and some record labels are more willing to deal with one than the other.
- If the song/artist/album information doesn't line up exactly between an album in Google Play Music and YouTube Music, the version added to your library in YouTube Music might not be the same version you wanted/originally added in Google Play Music. This issue has plagued any music transition service that tries to convert your Spotify/Google/Pandora library to YouTube Music so far.
We still don't have a date for when library migration might begin, nor any concrete details about how it will work and what if any work users might need to do for it.
Why isn't my music showing up in YouTube Music?
Library migration has not happened yet. Your YouTube Music library at the moment exists separately of your Google Play Music library at this time and we are still a ways off from migration.
You'll need to rebuild your subscription music library from YouTube Music's catalog if you want to use YouTube Music right now. I rebuilt a chunk of my library in YouTube Music and have been slowly building it out between discovering songs through Your Mixtape and adding music when I get a craving for it.
If you don't want to rebuild the library — or worry about merging them down the line — then be patient and keep using Google Play Music for now. Google will absolutely let you know when they migrate over your library.
Am I going to be charged more for my subscription?
No, you're grandfathered in to your current pricing and absolutely DO NOT CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION. Google is not raising your rates for the new service; whatever your price was when you signed up for Google Play Music will continue to be your price after YouTube Music replaces it.
If you still pay $8/month for Google Play Music, you'll keep paying $8/month when Google Play Music is retired for YouTube Music. So long as you keep paying for your current subscription, you should not be charged more.
Do I get YouTube Music with my subscription right now?
Yes, if you live in a country both services are available in, then your Google Play Music subscription should include YouTube Music, and you can try out the service right now.
Once upon a time, subscribing to either YouTube Red or Google Play Music got you both services — plus YouTube Music — but when YouTube Music relaunched last year alongside YouTube Premium, the pricing and "who gets what" got a little more complicated.
- If you subscribed to Google Play Music or YouTube Red before June 2018, your subscription includes YouTube Premium, YouTube Music Premium, and Google Play Music.
- If you subscribed to Google Play Music beginning or after June 2018, your subscription includes YouTube Music Premium and Google Play Music
- If you subscribed to YouTube Music Premium, you only get YouTube Music Premium.
- Note: Google Play Music's subscription is the same price and includes both services. Subscribe to Google Play Music instead of YouTube Music Premium even if YouTube Music will eventually replace it.
- If you subscribed to YouTube Premium, your subscription includes YouTube Premium, YouTube Music Premium, and Google Play Music.
What if YouTube Music isn't available in my country?
The 21 countries that currently have Google Play Music subscriptions but do not have YouTube Music Premium are:
- Czech Republic
If YouTube Music isn't available yet, it may soon be — each country has its own copyright, media, and streaming laws that Google has to deal with when expanding the service — but we don't know what will happen to subscribers if YouTube Music doesn't reach their countries before Google Play Music is shut down.
Getting started with Google Play Music
Google Play Music is a streaming service that allows users to stream up to 50,000 of their own songs for free across most platforms, in addition to allowing free users to listen to curated stations and paid users to stream up to 40 million songs in their streaming library. It's an app with a lot of functions, so finding your way around can be a bit of a task. Here's how to get what your want out of Google Play Music:
Putting your music into Google Play Music
Whether you're a free user just looking to get your music into the cloud to stream or you just want to get the music you purchased in Google Play Music out of an encrypted cloud and into your hard drive, there's a few tricks to getting music in and out of Google Play Music's online locker. Here's what you need to know before you burn a device authorization downloading or uploading music.
Google Play Music needs a change...
No service is perfect, but if anyone tries to tell you Google Play Music is, give them a firm smack on the arm, because they're either lying or delusional. Google Play Music has more than a few flaws that need fixing, from a skewed device policy to an outdated and clunky UI. See what Google Play Music's flaws are and how they could impact your use.
...And change is on the horizon
YouTube Music will eventually be replacing Google Play Music, but nothing's stopping you from picking up the app and trying it out right now! From the scarily accurate Your Mixtape algorithms to an unparalleled selection, there's a lot to like in YouTube Music, as well as a whole, whole lot of bugs that need fixing, too.
Updated April 2019: This guide was rewritten and updated as Google Play Music begins to slowly, slowly transition towards the YouTube Music takeover. There's still a lot we don't know, but as we find out more, we'll keep updating this space.