A few months back, Google announced numerous changes to their music services. The transition has been slow and confusing, but the product is damn impressive – especially for only $10/month. For the buck, there isn’t a better package of services for music AND video.
Let’s hit on the basics.
There are multiple ways to pay for your membership (part of the messiness they need to clean up), but I started with a subscription to Google Play Music.
Google Play Music
With a Google Play Music subscription, you get unlimited, ad-free access to millions of songs that you can mix with your own collection. It also includes podcasts, downloadable music, smart home streaming, and ability to buy music – all for $10/month (a little more for a family plan). What makes Google Play Music stand apart, however, is that it includes YouTube Premium. I’m a huge YouTube fan, so subscribing to Google Play Music is a no-brainer.
YouTube Premium (previously Red)
With YouTube Premium, you get features including:
- No ads when viewing YouTube videos.
- Access to original content only for YouTube Red subscribers.
- Audio-only playback of YouTube videos on mobile devices.
- Offline playback of YouTube videos on mobile devices.
- Background playback of YouTube videos on mobile devices.
But wait, there’s more.
Subscribers also get access to YouTube Music Premium for no extra cost. Just make sure you’re signed into the same account on YouTube Music and Google Play.
YouTube Music Premium
- Enjoy millions of songs and videos in YouTube Music without ads.
- Download songs and videos to your mobile device for offline listening.
- Use audio-only mode to keep your music playing while you use other apps.
- Listen to music on your Google Home or Chromecast Audio.
If I haven’t emphasized it enough, you get Google Play Music, YouTube Premium, and YouTube Music Premium as one package for $10/month.
Google Music in Your Smart Home
As you would expect, you can stream your Google Premium services through Google Home and Chromecast. There are limitations, however, and each app behaves differently (again, another annoyance Google needs to clean up).
Google Play Music:
GPM streams to Google Home devices (Mini, Google Home, Max), Chromecast, Chromecast Ultra, and Sonos – yup, Sonos. You can also stream to speakers groups (Google Home and Chromecast devices only). I’m not sure yet if it works with the new Google Home displays like the one from Lenovo, but I assume so.
Since we’re now talking about a video centric service, YouTube will stream to devices supporting video. This means Chromecast Ultra, Lenovo Smart Display, and Roku. Since Google Home and Google Minis are not video devices, you cannot send audio-only content via the YouTube app.
YouTube Music Premium
YouTube Music is similar to Google Play Music. You can stream almost anywhere. The difference being that it’s not supported as a music service in the Sonos app. What’s great about YoutTube Music is that if you’re watching a video on the app, it will cast it to a supporting device like Chromecast Ultra. However, if you cast to Google Home, instead of failing, it will cast the audio track.
Streaming music and videos is super easy. You can either stream from your app or use voice commands through your Google Home device. You can verbally tell Google which device to stream to, change tracks, skip, pause, etc.
If you’re a Google household, Google Play Music, YouTube Music, and YouTube Premier are seamlessly integrated. My hope is that the services are consolidated (Google Play Music will likely be discontinued in 2019) and are supported by more AV products like Yamaha.