YouTube Music Premium Review: Top Search, No Ads

This week we're taking a peek at the first release of YouTube Music Premium. That's not the same service as any one of Google's various Music-entwined services. Instead, it's an amalgamation of the parts that've worked for Google in the past. In our first look at this app and the full features it serves, I've come away cautiously optimistic.

The Keys

When it comes to music streaming services, I've used the full gamut. There aren't a massive number of major competitors in this space – Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal... and Google Play Music. The differences in the media they serve up are few and far-between, but they're VITAL for a listener such as myself.

Tidal's biggest draws are Hi-fi music (for an additional fee per month), Beyonce, and Jay-Z. Jay-Z has a vested interest in Tidal succeeding, so all the most awesome content from both he and Beyonce reside on Tidal, sometimes exclusively. When Lemonade was released, my wife and I dropped our subscription for Spotify and moved to Tidal. When you're the biggest musical act in the world, you can draw people in in just such a way as that.

NOTE: The Beyonce artist listing on Spotify currently has a message on it right up at the top which says: "Beyonce's album 'Lemonade' is not currently available on Spotify. We are working on it and hope to have it soon." That's how important Beyonce is to Tidal.

Apple Music's key is its optimization for the iPhone. They've also got a pretty gosh-darned good grasp on the Podcast universe. But they've not got anything Spotify doesn't have, really. Unless you count some of their radio stations.

Spotify is the king brand in this race. They've got the biggest musical acts in the world all ready to roll – save Jay-Z and Beyonce's Lemonade. The Beatles are on Spotify and Apple Music and Tidal, but not YouTube Music.

As a basic rule of thumb: If you can find an artist/song on Google Music Premium, you'll be able to find it on YouTube Music Premium. This includes some odd rarities that aren't necessarily on all other services, too, like Kiss VS Momoiro Clover Z! Tracks recorded between the two artists are only available on Google Play Music, YouTube Music Premium, Spotify, and Deezer.


If you had playlists in Google Play Music, you'll have to re-make them here in YouTube Music. YouTube Music Premium has a little work to do optimizing the user interface here, otherwise playlists work pretty much how they do on any other service.

When I say they need to optimize, I mean YouTube Music Premium is set up in a way that seems a little more static than Spotify – but they've already got a UI that's miles better than what Google Play Music Premium has. Google Play Music Premium feels like it's built exclusively for those users that have their own music uploaded to Google's library – in effect designed as a bridge to a premium service.

YouTube Music Premium looks like an app and a service made to serve paying users. For the way I use streaming music services, YouTube Music Premium seems just as good an app as Spotify. Desktop use is a different situation at the moment, as there is no YouTube Music app for desktop computers – in that realm, Spotify is best.

Also, when you turn your smartphone sideways, YouTube Music Premium shows the artwork associated with the music – or the full-screen music video. It looks really, really nice, most of the time.


The fine-tuned search abilities of YouTube Music Premium will be overlooked by most users. Once they realize what they can do, though, they'll never go back to any other service. Where Spotify searches to match words to titles, YouTube Music Premium searches with machine learning tech.

YouTube Music Premium utilizes Google's massive back-catalog of odd searches and clicks, and gives you the most likely thing you're looking for, regardless of what you searched. Above you'll see how I've searched for the same terms in both YouTube Music Premium and Spotify. One brings me what I was looking for, the other has no idea what I'm talking about.


When I've written this first review of YouTube Music Premium, it's not yet fully launched publicly. Users are being given access, but only in waves. YouTube Music Premium does seem ready to roll in prime time regardless of its pre-release nature at the moment – there's really nothing Beta about it.

Because pricing structures are so similar between Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and YouTube Music Premium, it's really a matter of comparing services instead of prices. For a person such as myself, YouTube Music Premium is a no-brainer. As long as you can pay Google around $10 a month for access to YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Premium at the same time, it's the obvious best deal on the market.

At this moment, you can do that. YouTube Premium will cost $12 a month starting on June 22nd. If you subscribe before June 22nd, you can get grandfathered in at $10 a month, and that includes both YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium (and Google Play Music too, but at this point, who cares?)

NOTE: Before June 22nd, it's called YouTube Red. After June 22nd, it's re-named YouTube Premium and its price goes from $10 to $12 a month.

Even if you wait until June 22nd and only the $12 price is available, paying $12 a month is WELL worth what you get. Unless you never, EVER use YouTube. YouTube Premium removes ALL ADS from YouTube – all of them. All the advertisements on YouTube, gone. YouTube's also getting premium content in the near future that YouTube Premium will give you access to, too.

If you never use YouTube, paying $10 a month for just YouTube Music Premium is still worth the cash. If you're heavily invested in another service with all sorts of playlists and stuff you'd have to re-make, and you never use YouTube ever, you might as well stick with the service you've got already. Otherwise, get YouTube Music Premium by subscribing to YouTube Premium, right now.