YouTube Music, Google’s latest music-streaming push, is now available in the UK – alongside YouTube Premium, formerly called YouTube Red.

There had been rumors for some time that Google was to launch a music service that married both audio and video, something that was a mash-up of both YouTube and Google Play Music.

That service finally arrived in the US at the tail-end of May and, just weeks after that launch, it is now available in the UK.

YouTube Music is available as both an ad-supported free app and as a premium subscription. For £9.99, you get ad-free music, the opportunity to listen to music in the background and use other apps, and download functionality.

YouTube is pushing this as the app where ‘it’s all here’. Meaning that whether you want music videos, albums, remixes, live performances or covers, you will be able to listen and view them through this app.

YouTube, quite rightly, is also touting context as a key part of this app – functionality that can currently be found in Google Play Music. For instance, it is changing the music it offers on the home screen of the app on an almost minute by minute basis, so that you are served music recommendations that suit the time of day.

Being Google, the search is also a big part of the app, particularly the ability to search lyrics and things like ‘the whistling song’ and it will try and serve you the particular track or video you actually want.

YouTube Premium

To confuse things a little, YouTube Music is not a direct replacement to Google Play Music. If you currently have a Google Play Music subscription, then you will automatically receive access to YouTube Music Premium.

For now, it seems Google Play Music is in some sort of holding pattern – this means that you’ll still be able to access all of your purchased music, uploads and playlists in Google Play Music, but with this new kid in town you have to question whether both apps will survive in the long run.

It feels like Google Play Music will one day be usurped but there is no confirmation of this.

And then there’s YouTube Premium. This is the first time the full-fat premium service of YouTube (formerly called YouTube Red) has been made available in the UK.

YouTube Premium comes in at the slightly costlier £11.99. But, for that, you get YouTube Music Premium as standard plus an ad-free, downloadable, background-playing YouTube experience.

You also get access to YouTube Originals, of which there are 60 odd. These are shows created by YouTube in retaliation to the onslaught of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video original content.

The shining light here is Cobra Kai, the Karate Kid spin-off – the show recently found itself the most-watched streaming show across all services and has earned itself a second season. YouTube has revealed that there are a number of UK-focused shows appearing at launch, including Sidemen – billed as The Inbetweeners vs Top Gear – and the football-focused F2: Finding Football.

Diversity in distribution

Speaking at the launch of the service, with TechRadar in attendance, Lyor Cohen, Head of Music, YouTube Music said: “35 years ago, I was promoting Run DMC and now I am still promoting music.

“We are in a period of time where we at Google and YouTube are working in collaboration to bring diversity in distribution – creating products and tools that make those in music’s jobs much easier.”

When talking about how YouTube Music came to be, T Jay Fowler, head of product at Google explained that it all started when Google decided to integrate Google Play Music teams and YouTube teams together.

“14 months ago we merged the YouTube and Google Play Music teams. Google Play Music has made an incredible investment in the taste profile. We married this with that vast amount of content on YouTube,” said Fowler.

While this marriage probably needs to become a singular entity at some point, you can download and try out YouTube Music and YouTube Premium on both iOS and Android now.

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