YouTube Music: Everything you need to know

Galaxy S20 Review Youtube Music Aukey B60 Headphones
Galaxy S20 Review Youtube Music Aukey B60 Headphones (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

YouTube is one of the most-viewed websites on the planet, and by far the most popular video platform today, so it's no surprise that millions upon millions of users turn to it every day for music. It's the default platform for viral music videos and hosts just about any song, remix, mashup, or fan cover you could ever want. Whether you're looking for lyrics to a song before karaoke night, music to sleep to, or a new remix to play at your next party, YouTube has what you're looking for.

A half-hearted experiment when it debuted in 2015, YouTube Music remained an utter mess when it relaunched in 2018, riddled with bugs and missing key features. Since then, Google has continued to update and refine the service, finally making it worth using in recent years. So it's no surprise that YouTube Music is the fastest-growing music streaming app today, even if its 50 million subscribers still sit behind Spotify and Apple Music.

While it has an ad-supported free tier, YouTube Music Premium lets you download for offline listening or play music with the screen off, making it the best option. It's one of the best music streaming services in 2022, but does its unique interface, unparalleled content library, and improved algorithms and playlists justify subscribing to it instead of its competitors? We'll help you decide.

Which YouTube Music membership should you get?

Google Pixel 5a

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

YouTube Music is built on a gold mine. YouTube is not only the most used video platform in the world; it might be the biggest catalog of professional, semi-professional, and amateur music available in the world.

But there's no sugar-coating it: using YouTube Music as a free user on Android is bad. There are ads every three to six songs and you don't get access to all of its features. So you'll want to pay for it, or not use it at all.

You have three main options for YouTube Music Premium: a $5/month option for students, $10/month for a standard individual plan, or $15/month for a family plan with up to five users. In most cases, all of these prices match the industry standard, so you aren't paying more than usual. If you prefer to pay annually, you can pay $100/year for an individual plan.

Honestly, we don't recommend you subscribe to any of these. Why? Because for just $2/month or $20/year more, you can get YouTube Premium instead. That's $7/month, $12/month, or $17/month for students, individuals, or 5-person families, respectively.

For that slight increase, you get ad-free and offline viewing for YouTube plus YouTube Music. Two services for slightly more than the price of one.

Getting started with YouTube Music

Youtube Music Lifestyle

Source: Chris Wedel / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Chris Wedel / Android Central)

YouTube Music is an adjustment from traditional music services — especially because it's based around video as well as audio — but thanks to the Google's search prowess and downright uncanny predictions and recommendations, getting used to Google's music service should be as painless as possible. For starters, we have a simple guide on getting started with YouTube Music that'll cover all the basics.

If you have your own extensive digital music library, you can upload your music library to YouTube Music and get access to songs no other service may offer. You can upload up to 100,000 FLAC, M4A, MP3, OGG, and WMA songs. You can then download music for offline playback on your phone, tablet, computer, watch, or other compatible device.

Or, if you had music on the now-defunct Google Play Music, you can transfer your Google Play Music library to YouTube Music. You'll transfer your music recommendations, playlists, radio stations, likes and dislikes, uploads, and library songs.

YouTube Music Logo Wear Os

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Whatever its origin, once you've made your library available, you can then download music for offline playing on other devices. That'll ensure you can enjoy your library while in airplane mode or anywhere without consistent internet or signal.

YouTube Music is available on more devices than you'd expect. If you want to use YouTube Music on a Wear OS watch, that's finally an option. You can even enable it on Google Maps while you drive using Android Auto.

You may also want to hide your YouTube likes from YouTube Music. This ensures that "liking" a song from the radio doesn't mean your regular YouTube feed will become littered with recommendations for that artist. And there are plenty of other ways to improve your YouTube Music recommendations if you know how.

How does it compare to other services?

Spotify and YouTube Music apps

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

YouTube Music is bringing a lot to the table, but it's far from the only music streaming service in town.

If you weigh YouTube Music vs. Spotify, Spotify has some serious perks in its favor. YouTube Music lacks Spotify's podcast selection and maxes out at 256kbps, whereas Spotify's 70 million songs can hit 320kbps. Both work on the same list of devices, but Spotify adds in a desktop audio option that many people prefer to browser-based. Either individual plan lets you log in on as many devices as you want, though only YouTube Music has unlimited offline downloads (Spotify cuts you off at five devices). Spotify's algorithms for song recs are considered the best in the business, but YouTube Music has gotten dramatically better recently.

If price is most important to you, you may pick Amazon Music Unlimited over YouTube Music because its individual plan costs just $8/month or $79/year. Prime Student members pay just $1/month, or anyone can pay $4/month if you want music on just one device. Or you can even get a free Prime subscription if you can downgrade from 75 million to 2 million songs. Really, this pick will depend on whether you prefer Google Assistant and Wear OS or Alexa speakers, since Amazon works best with the latter.

If you're an iPhone owner, you may wonder whether Apple Music or YouTube Music fits your needs best. Apple Music now boasts 90 million songs, also lets you upload your library to the cloud, offers music videos like YouTube does, and has respected recommendations and playlists. It has no free tier, and its UI isn't great, but that isn't necessarily a strong point for YouTube Music either. Again, this option is better suited for iOS users, even if there's an Apple Music Android app.

Where is YouTube Music available?

YouTube Music

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

If you're interested in checking out YouTube Music, the service is currently available in 95 countries as of early 2022, listed below:

  • American Samoa
  • Argentina
  • Aruba
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bermuda
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • French Guyana
  • French Polynesia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guam
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Nigeria
  • North Macedonia
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Lebanon
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

What's the latest with YouTube Music in 2022?

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Google didn't add personalized mixes like Spotify and other rivals until late 2020, so it spent much of 2021 improving its algorithms and recommendations to catch up.

Last year, YouTube Music added related playlists to the bottom of your curated lists, with recs from both Google and other listeners based on your interests. New mood filters like "Energize" give you unique mixes based on what kind of vibe you're going for. And YouTube released its first Year in Review summary for listeners at the end of last year.

Going into 2022, it looks like more tweaks and improvements will come our way soon. Most recently, Google added supervised YouTube Music accounts for kids, so your recs will no longer get destroyed by their adorable tastes.

Otherwise, we're looking forward to Google adding more songs and improving its recommendations even further as we progress into 2022.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

  • This article proudly brought to by Google. Wow what a sales pitch. I will try it again, once it has the simplist option of sorting albums, till then for me it is useless. Otherwise I like the app.
  • YouTube Vanced. That is all.
  • How much did yall get paid for this?
  • YTM is so bad. I check on it every couple months to see if it's gotten better and it's still a POS. It has a long way to go if it ever wants to replace GPM. If YTM still sucks when GPM is retired I will move on. There are other great options for music streaming. And idgaf about videos...I just want high quality audio streaming.
  • Ditto. Im going to Specify if YTM continues to be complete garbage post shutdown of GPM
  • Sales pitch? Conspiracy theory much? I pay $9.99 for Google Play Music All Access. That gives me YouTube Premium and YouTube Music free. I will say YouTube Music is still under construction. It doesn't work like most popular streaming music apps just yet(ie. GPM, Apple Music, Spotify). Right now it's kind of a hybrid between GPM and YouTube. I have been noticing tweaks and new features constantly being added to YTM. It's nowhere near being a permanent replacement for GPM. It's got me scratching my head on what Google will eventually do with YTM. I think Google is scratching their heads as well on what to do 🤔😂
  • This is such a bullshit defense for YTM. It's been out for over 3 years; there's no world where a top-tier app is still **** after 3+ years unless the developers are garbage or the company is failing at effectively prioritizing it. This is to say nothing of the supposed "desktop app" that was supposed to come along with YTM and still doesn't even exist. It's trash; it's always been trash; nothing's likely to change anytime soon because Google is the worst at maintaining and upgrading existing apps and experiences.
  • It's useless , I can't add any of my albums from my sd card to it . No option in settings .
  • What was learned by reading this article? I believe nothing.
    Are there no details about
    "What does YouTube Music mean for Google Play Music"
    "YouTube Music vs. Google Play Music: Which should you use?"
    that are less than a year old?
  • YTM still needs work. My biggest beef with it still is the selection of music available. Most songs I look for end up being s%*ty covers of the original song I want to hear. They did well with queing and letting you pick between video or just a static image but I still prefer spotify's gif'like videos for some of their content. Speaking of which. I chose spotify over YTM moreso due to the fact you can follow artists ang get notified when they release new music. And you can read a quick bio on bands as well as see related artists, which has helped me find so much music I like. The algorithm for the stations is light years better. YTM likes recommending completely unrelated **** that ruins my listening experience.
  • I heard YTM doesn't work automatically with the Google home devices and I have to open the app and manually cast to them rather than just telling Google to play a song from my library.
  • I haven't tried this myself, but I assume you just need to change your music service under the settings of the Home app.
  • Compatibility with the Google Assistant needs work and Google is aware of the issues and is working on them. The Assistant will often pulls tracks from YouTube itself instead of YTM, the Assistant won't play playlists, and user-uploads are still problematic. Manually casting from your phone would be a solution if it worked. That's still buggy, you can't skip tracks, it often casts as YouTube and not audio (especially to Casting compatible devices with screens like my TV)... It needs work before primetime release.
  • I don't like that I can't remove YouTube from my phone or being nagged to update it for music. I am happy with my phone's music player (LG) and load it from Amazon music. Works great and it's free.
  • Took WAAAAYYYY to long to get to this point..I dumped YouTube Music a long time
  • So this article's comment section goes from 27 to 15 in a day........
  • The transition from Google Play was so horrible that I gave up and have not even tried YTM for... I don't even remember how many years it's been. Didn't help that the audio quality sucked.
  • It still sucks and was a backwards move from Google Play Music. I love Google, but they seriously need to stop breaking things that weren't broken.