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The biggest problem facing YouTube Music comes from within

The biggest problem facing YouTube Music isn't a slow rollout. It isn't casting bugs, or wacky library sorting, or missing albums, or poor handling of going offline. No, no, no, my friends, YouTube Music's biggest problem is a YouTube that predates the service by years. And with how important rating songs in YouTube Music is, this problem is going to bite music-lovers, long-time YouTube users, and YouTuber creators hard.

While evaluating YouTube Music's capabilities compared to other platforms, I asked if the 5,000-video limit on YouTube playlists applies to YouTube Music and specifically if it applies to Liked Songs. YouTube's response was one line:

Currently YouTube has a 5,000-song limit for any playlist.

I will say right off the bat here that this doesn't quite limit your library size the way Spotify's 10,000 song limit does. Every album you add to your library doesn't automatically get added to Liked Songs. If you add albums to your library rather than just liking single songs, you can expand your library without contributing to your Liked songs cap. You can also move songs between playlists if you need to free up space in Liked songs, but you shouldn't have to.

Add to Liked songs

Liked songs is a critical piece of YouTube Music.

When listening to Your mixtape, the way to shape the mix it serves up is to thumbs songs up and down. If there's a limit to what you can thumbs up, there's a point where you stop being able to reinforce the algorithm when it picks good songs, leaving you with only thumbing down bad songs. Offline Mixtape, recommendations and radio stations are impacted by your listening history and your library, but Liked videos also has a big impact on them, too.

This limit is a double-whammy for avid YouTube users, because Liked songs has another name in the main YouTube app, and it's one we're all familiar with: Liked videos.

Liked Songs has another name

Yep, Likes songs and Liked videos are actually the same playlist, and so they both contribute to that 5,000 song limit. So, even if you've never, ever opened YouTube Music before, your Liked songs playlist could be half-full already if you're someone who rewards YouTube videos like ours with likes. While this means that music videos you've liked in the main YouTube app have given you a leg up on dialing in YouTube Music's algorithms, it's going to limit what you can do once you're using the service.

This is bad for YouTube Music users, and even worse for YouTube creators, because it turns likes into an even more limited commodity. If I like a non-music video on YouTube, that's one fewer song I can like in YouTube Music, one fewer song I can add to my library without adding the whole album. 5,000 videos sounds like a lot, but 5,000 songs is something that's very easy to hit, especially for the users most-likely to jump on YouTube Music: hard-core YouTube users.

Likes are getting limited and polluted

This is something that can be overcome, even without YouTube raising or removing the playlist video/song limit:

  • Add singles to a user-created playlist rather than adding them to Liked Songs or adding the entire album to your library.
  • Be picky with your likes so they go further.
  • When you're starting to get close, go to Liked Videos. Scroll to the very bottom of the playlist and start working your way up, removing older videos that don't matter to you anymore, songs that don't match your current tastes, and any "Removed videos". This will free up space and help clear out older music videos that might be skewing your YouTube Music recommendations.

These being one in the same is going to hurt users and YouTube creators in the long run

Really, though, this is something that needs to be fixed. YouTube Music has hundreds of millions of songs out there, and if they want to market themselves as the biggest catalog of exclusive content, then you need to be able to rate more than 5,000 songs while listening to its radio stations. You need to be able to add more than 5,000 songs to your library without hassling with adding entire albums or making a new playlist for every genre you like.

If it's any consolation, YouTube has confirmed to Android Central that users can have up to 10,000 playlists/albums in their library — albums function like playlists right now, so that means that albums count towards the 10,000 playlist limit — so even if Liked songs fills up, you'll still be able to load up other playlists with new music.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

14 Comments
  • Google is Google's worst enemy.
    Google is like a squirrel with making applications or maintaining their old ones. They have an attention span of 2 minutes... And create another app and go ooh look new shiny.....
  • You'd think they had Nadella making decisions for them.
  • I've been "liking" videos on YouTube for years, so I really can't even use YouTube music, if this is true.
  • I mean, you should go in and clean up your Liked videos every few years anyway just so old videos that you don't like anymore don't influence your recommendations, but yeah, this is something that could impact heavy users harder than most.
  • Once again you show us you have no clue about music apps.
    Nobody but you, cares about this non issue. Just like your complaints about casting.
    They are non issues for almost all. You want to convince yourself and others to like this app so badly, you are twisting yourself into a pretzel doing so.
    And meanwhile, Ignoring all the blatant faults, to point out these silly ones. First off:
    No! You should Not go into and clean out your liked videos every year. That's why you liked them in the first place! What you keep missing is that VIDEOS, music or otherwise, should have no part of YouTube music. You tube music should be based off of the users Google play music history Only. Period!
    Not YouTube likes. If the user never had a GPM account, they can start from scratch.
    I have 100,000 plus songs in my GPM library. Half of which I uploaded myself. If I didn't "like" them, they wouldn't be there. I don't thumbs up them. Just for that reason.
    If it's a song I haven't heard, I will add it to my library and maybe a playlist too.
    There is no reason to "like" it or, thumbs up them. You are a video person, great, you should stick with Google's video service, it's called YouTube!
    Like all the videos you want. Stop liking them later too.
    99% of Music lovers, fans, aficionados etc. Don't stop looking something a few months later.
    This is supposed to be a music service and a replacement for the one they already have. Not a Social based app for teens and tweens with the attention span of a gnat on speed. According toThe you and Google, the poorly named YouTube music is reported to replace GPM. When and if that happens it better have All the functionality of that service and have all the bugs of that service fixed once and for all.
    Otherwise, it's DOA
  • Right. Nobody's opinion on an issue can ever change. Or their values. That's why you should check through your liked videos
  • My concern isn't that the playlist isn't going to be big enough, it's that the quality of the music will be bad.
    I've yet to see ANYTHING online about YouTube Music's maximum bitrate. I've read that with its highest quality video, YouTube's audio bitrate is 192kbs AAC. If that's the maximum bitrate offered by the audio-only service, those looking for the best audio quality won't pay for that, not when Spotify offers 320kbs (or, for those willing to fork out the money, go to Tidal and get FLAC Lossless). Sure, most probably won't care, but for those of us who give a damn, this will be the dealbreaker.
  • The current audio level is 128 KBPs, higher audio quality and better audio quality controls are coming soon as of my last check with YouTube PR.
  • You have no contact with YouTube PR. Be stop telling stories and spreading rumors to make yourself seen important
  • Don't be. 95%+ of the people who stream music would be hard pressed to hear the difference between 128 nitrate and a 320 one. Let alone 256 and 320.
    And most people stream music through crap WiFi / BT speakers. Or worse, a Google home or similar one. Even do called high end wireless speakers like Sonos, Bose etc suck in comparison to a mid range wired speaker.
    Do don't work about the but rate, for now
  • This is one of the many reasons why it shouldn't be tied to YouTube
  • For relevance.... Spotify has a 10,000 song limit to the “Your Music” list (unless they changed that in the last year)
  • True, but that includes every album you ever add to your library, whereas even if Liked Videos fills up, you can still make other playlists in your library to use in its place. And since YouTube ha a 10K playlist limit, you can still fit a ton more in your YTM library than your Spotify library.
  • Why google can’t see that this is a too complicated offer ro stick?