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Lyor Cohen
Lyor Cohen (By Noa Griffel / 300 Entertainment via via Wikimedia Commons)

YouTube Music

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It’s pretty cool!

Lyor says he’s on the side of the artists, if one streaming service wins it will be able to crimp compensation to rightsholders, he says that’s why he took the job at Google. And we can debate Lyor’s motivation all day long, but the end product…

Is gonna attract users.

It’s personalized. That’s what differs it from its competitors. No one is gonna see the same homepage. Furthermore, you get a different homepage depending upon your location!

Let’s say you listen to instrumental music at work, IT KNOWS THAT! And will suggest music to play accordingly. Ditto if you’re at home, or exiting a museum, it tracks the location and squares it against your history and creates a homepage on the fly.

And they’ve got a lot of history. That’s right, they’re incorporating all your viewing on YouTube to build your favorites. And if for some reason you’ve been living under a rock and have never been on the default video service, you can choose different acts to inform YouTube so your homepage can be populated before it learns.

And there’s a row of new releases based on your preferences. This happens to me all the time, I find a new release a YEAR after it came out. That’s the hardest thing to do in today’s marketplace, spread the word, especially to people who want to know. But if the YouTube app learns you’re a fan of an act or genre, it will put their new releases right on the homepage. Do you know Neil Young has a new release of his “Tonight’s The Night” show from the Roxy? I didn’t, until I read an article. I was listening to Supertramp and wanted to know if they were still touring so I went to the band’s homepage and found out Gabe Dixon was playing keyboards for the band. I LOVE Gabe Dixon, but I did not know he released a live album from Boston that I’ve got to write about, I’ve listened to it for days straight. Any service that puts this stuff up close and personal is attractive. Of course, the proof is in the pudding. Spotify does something similar, but I find its New Release Radar has too many remastered tracks, I already know them, I don’t care, I want NEW STUFF!

Speaking of which, for now YouTube Music does not feature Spotify’s killer app, i.e. Discover Weekly. They say they’re gonna put that in… And unlike Amazon, and now Spotify, voice control is not built into the app, then again, if you’re on Android, you can say “Hey Google!” and achieve the same result. And if you’ve got Google Home… You can call out and get playlists on the fly. Like I had Lyor ask his phone to play “Depressing Songs From 1987” and it immediately played U2’s “With or Without You,” this is Amazon Music’s killer feature, it creates personalized playlists on the fly, via algorithm. YouTube’s are not personalized.

But YouTube’s killer app is…YOUTUBE!

Happens to me all the time, I get deep into an act on Spotify and I want to hear live shows, see fan videos, I click over to YouTube, but now that’s BUILT IN! All the authorized and fan videos, and they pay at the subscriber rate, not the ad-supported rate.

As for trials… They’re just not sure yet. Right now they’re gonna have a thirty-day trial, could go to ninety days, they’ve got carrier partners…it’s flexible.

Not that you can get much data out of them, that’s what’s great about Spotify, it gives you plays, it gives you so much data, whereas Apple and Google hold their info close to the vest.

So, playlists are created based on your listening habits, with as many as 500 songs, and they learn along the way, if you skip the track will not show up next time.

Once again, these are not generic playlists. Yours might have the same name as a buddy’s, but it will be slightly different, all based on your listening habits. But you can go deeper into the app and find the hand-curated playlists.

Also, there’s a feature where they list what’s hot. So, if Childish Gambino puts out a video the night before, you’ll be alerted right on your homepage, think of it as a news service for music.

But you won’t know until you try it.

The app is gonna have a soft launch on Tuesday, and then spread slowly thereafter. There will be promotion/advertising, and the first question you have, which is the same one I have, is…IS GOOGLE TOO LATE?

Timing is everything in tech, there’s a huge first-mover advantage.

And behemoths can be undercut and toppled. Hell, think of all of Google’s failed products, Glass, whatever their social network was called…

But, first mover advantage only works if you continue to improve and stay better than the competition. From what I can see, YouTube Music is a step ahead of the competition, it’s very fan-friendly, even downloads/synch are emphasized in a way that nitwits can figure it out.

And there’s those YouTube videos…

So it’ll be ten bucks a month, and if you want the YouTube Red stuff, you’ll pay a few bucks more for Premium, Red goes away, you can’t buy Red without Music.

And what we find here is all of Google’s machine learning and experience has been baked into this app. It’s the personalization that wows, the location services, you want to try it out.

Is there enough room for all services to survive?

I’m not sure, it’s a race for subscribers, and so far, most people don’t have subscriptions.

And if you’d asked me yesterday, I’d have said YouTube has no chance.

But today??

It’s quite possible!

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