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The product teams for YouTube Music and Google Play Music are united in a single unit, The Verge reports, in a hint that Google plans to merge the two music services into one app.
For now, the apps will continue to operate independently, but a possible combination (if it occurs) would solidify Google’s music offering to consumers.
Currently, YouTube Music and Google Play Music are separate but complementary apps:
- YouTube Music is a streaming app that recreates the YouTube listening experience in a standalone audio-only app. It’s built around playlists, custom stations, and an almost endless catalog of songs. Another (and perhaps more specific) way to look at YouTube Music is to consider the music component of YouTube Red minus the price and benefits of a paid membership.
- Google Play Music is both a music streaming service and a cloud-based music locker where users can download and store songs from their personal catalogs. It has a streaming catalog of over 30 million songs and allows users to save up to 50,000 songs from their own collection on the app. It is linked to the Google Play App Store, where users buy and download songs of their choice.
- YouTube Red, meanwhile, is the company’s paid subscription service. At $ 9.99 per month, it gives users ad-free access to YouTube music and video, and the ability to play content offline and in the background when the screen is off or while on. running another application. A YouTube Red subscription gives users full access to YouTube Music and Google Play Music.
But this is the latest sign that YouTube Music and Google Play Music are better together. Google already combined the business development teams for the two apps last year. Driven by a desire to simplify its relations with the music industry, this decision streamlined Google’s negotiations with music copyright holders (publishers, labels and artists) by consolidating Google’s music partnerships by one point of contact.
And the combination of the app product teams is another indication that running Google Play Music and YouTube Music separately doesn’t make business sense. Initially, YouTube Music was seen as a way to sell more songs and subscriptions on Google Play Music, but these apps may not be as differentiated and complementary as Google had envisioned.
The merger of YouTube Music and Google Play Store could benefit Google in several ways:
- Competetion. Combining the best of YouTube Music and the Google Play Store in one app will likely lead to a more competitive service. This would eliminate having to switch between the two apps (as well as any consumer confusion about how these apps are different in the first place). Staying competitive is essential in an increasingly crowded musical space.
- Subscriptions. Similar to the point above, the combination of the two apps would provide a more consistent and compelling free offering under YouTube Red, which would act as a more powerful channel to then channel users to paid Red members. YouTube needs to convert 4% of its 1 billion monthly user base to match Spotify’s paid subscriber count.
- Acquisitions. The simplification of the organizational structure of Google’s music services allows Google to make acquisitions in this space, as this would make all future product integrations, especially the larger ones, much easier to achieve. Earlier this year, Google was rumored be “very interested” in buying SoundCloud for $ 500 million.
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