YouTube Music Premium (YouTube Music) has the official launch date of Tuesday May 22, 2018.  What!?  So soon?!  Exactly.  If you haven’t been paying attention, you’ve missed a lot of pre-YouTube Music announcements.  Its been alleged for a while now that , due to pressure from the major labels, YouTube was finally going to get its act together and launch a real platform instead of a halfhearted music service that would close the value gap between what YouTube pays artists compared to other music streaming services.

In preparation for this introduction, YouTube announced new official artist channels which united the unofficial artist channels and their subscribers with the new pages to make it easier for your fans to locate their content.  The benefit for artists of having just one full-service location for for streams enables them to have more reach to promote releases, gives them and their team control over their presence, and increases the opportunity to engage directly with fans through YoutTube features like community posts, Mobile Live and ticketing.

They followed that announcement with the launch of YouTube charts in 44 countries, which now includes a new Trending Chart as well as improved charts for top songs, top artist, and top music videos all in one spot.  This was followed six days later with the announcement of expanded artists songwriter, label and publisher credits, which will function more like liner notes on songs and give users more information about who was involved in the making of a track/video and give more attention to producers, writers, and directors.

Finally, that same day they gave the full length and breadth of what the changes and new service would entail.  On the surface its just another paid streaming music service at $9.99 a month ($14.99 for family plans and iPhone exclusive users) that gives ad-free music, the ability to listen in the background, and downloads.  The service will include “…official songs, albums, thousands of playlists and artist radio plus YouTube’s tremendous catalog of remixes, live performances, covers and music videos you can’t find anywhere else – all simply organized and personalized.”

How YouTube organizes and personalized all this into a “premium” paid service is going to be quite interesting to see.  Renders of their app for the service are very similar to Spotify, which is a big disappointment because that platform doesn’t provide the best navigation experience.  How they handle playlists–particularly user generated playlist (i.e. placement of them within the service)–could provide opportunities for indie artists when it comes to ways to promote their music.  It will also be interesting to see if they go the Spotify route and create promoted-content playlists (paid for by the labels and artists); their algorithm-generated approach has kept them out of recent controversies about artist exclusion and has made for a less generic experience for listeners overall.

In addition to the YouTube Music announcement, YouTube Red will now be called YouTube Premium and will cost $11.99 per user per month (no details on a family plan or student discount) it includes all the original benefits of YouTube Red and is inclusive of YouTube Music.

Current subscribers to YouTube Red and Google Music in the U.S., Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, and Mexico will receive the updated services at the current price as long as they do not cancel (yeah for Kel).  No word if personal playlists and liked tracks will migrate from the Google Music platform to the new one.

YouTube Music-YouTube Premium pricing table

So, come Tuesday May 22, 2018, it’s a brave new world for music on YouTube.