With YouTube Music, Google is holding my speakers for ransom

In less than six months, YouTube Music will be Google’s only music service. Google Play Music is slated to close at the end of the year, leaving YouTube as Google’s only media brand. As part of this transition, YouTube Music recently added the latest great feature of Google Music to its line-up: music library support. After an agonizingly slow deployment, this longtime Google Music user took a turn for the service and reported again – this will be a disaster.

For those who don’t know, the “Music Library” feature allows you to bring your own purchased music to the service. Google Music was launched with the feature in 2011, which allows you to upload your MP3 files and anything else to Google’s servers, and then you can stream or download them to your other devices. Google Music has its quirks, but it’s a fantastic service for syncing your music collection across multiple devices, backing up your music, and putting your music in the Google Cast ecosystem for easy playback on a Google Home speaker or Android TV. YouTube’s acquisition of the service includes an easy one-click library transfer feature, which works great. The problem with YouTube Music is restrictive playback rules, which are a major downgrade of Google Music.

I could sit here and complain for days about YouTube Music regressions, the maze-like user interface, and YouTube’s weird mix of random junk and my music collection. But what I really want to shout from the rooftops right now is this: YouTube Music doesn’t respect people who buy music. If you bought your music, you uploaded it to YouTube Music and expect to be treated like you. own Music, this service is not for you. If you bought a Google Home smart speaker or any other Google Cast device, Google’s public position right now is that you will have to pay a monthly fee to stream to your speaker once Google Music turns off.

Buy the music, buy the speaker and then buy the right to play the music on the speaker

YouTube Music is really just for The Music Renter, someone who wants to pay $ 10 a month, every month, forever, for “Music Premium”. This fee is for buying a monthly music streaming license that is not owned by her, and I imagine a good chunk of it goes to music companies. When you don’t pay this rental fee, YouTube Music feels like a demo app.

I prefer owning my music, and I own a lot of independent music that would not be covered by this major record label broadcast license anyway, so I have no interest in this service. The problem is that YouTube Music also blocks the regular music playback features behind this monthly rental fee, even for the music you’ve uploaded to the service. The biggest offense is that you can’t use Google Cast without paying the rental fee, but when it comes to music I own and a speaker I own, that’s not cool. Google Music did not do this.

The Google Home / Google Nest family of speakers.  You need to pay a monthly fee to use them with YouTube Music.
Enlarge / / The Google Home / Google Nest family of speakers. You need to pay a monthly fee to use them with YouTube Music.


I would be quite offended if someone referred to me as a “free” user simply because I don’t want to subscribe to Music Premium. I paid a lot of money for a lot of music from all over the Web. I have paid hundreds of dollars for the Google Home speakers, which (for the normal “medium” size) are $ 130 per pop. Thanks to the initial slow deployment of basic functions in a Google Home, for a long time, playing music on multiple speakers was the only thing that a Google Home could do well. When people bought these speakers, Google Music was the official way to play your music on Google Home, and of course it did so without a monthly fee. When Google turns off Google Music, Google will take your speaker line and tell customers, “If you want to continue playing music on your speakers, start paying a monthly fee.”

This sounds crazy, and it’s hard to believe it will really happen, but that’s the way it is right now. Before publishing this article, I contacted Google PR and tried to get someone to reject the idea of ​​suddenly charging a monthly fee to use my speakers, but the company only reiterated that YouTube Music requires a monthly fee for Google Cast.

Google Cast support is integrated into many music applications and services, and with a single touch, you can send your music to any other Google Cast speaker on your local Wi-Fi network. Google Home speakers have an alternate Bluetooth mode, where you can pair an arbitrary Bluetooth device with them and stream music, but this comes with a lot of regressions on streaming. First, you cannot use the Bluetooth pair in a group of multiple speakers, only a single speaker. And remember, for a long time, playing music in multiple rooms was the only selling point for Google Home. Second, managing multiple Bluetooth devices, especially on Android, is a buggy and awkward nightmare, and something I definitely don’t want to do. Third, Bluetooth is limited to the range of Bluetooth, while Google Cast works across the entire home network. Fourth, your device needs Bluetooth, so you can’t start music from a computer that doesn’t have Bluetooth. Fifth, you can’t start playing music with a voice command, which is, like, the full point of a Google Home. Bluetooth playback is not a replacement for streaming.

Can’t download your loaded music either?

Pay money to download the songs you uploaded to us!  I'm not sure why there is a video option, I'm guessing one or two videos sneaked into this playlist?
Enlarge / / Pay money to download the songs you uploaded to us! I’m not sure why there is a video option, I’m guessing one or two videos sneaked into this playlist?

The other rarity of YouTube Music rental fee compared to Google Music: can’t you download your music? Well sometimes you can. You can download your entire library as a ZIP file on a PC, and you can download a single song in the app, but you can’t download a playlist in the app without paying the music rental fee. It does not make any sense

At Google Music, downloading your cloud-based music collection is absolutely a must do if your phone has room for it. In addition to enabling offline playback, which is great, it’s also just an overall performance boost. Why take a round trip to the Internet when you don’t need to? When new phones have between 128GB and 1TB of storage, downloading thousands of songs really isn’t a big deal. Google Music made it a little difficult: You had to make a playlist of your music collection and then download it, but at least the service would. YouTube Music wants to charge a fee.

But again, when I own music, it’s not okay to charge a fee to download it to my phone. I could connect a USB cable just as easily and transfer my music. Anyway, I’m temporarily “downloading” a song every time I stream it, just let me save it. This will save my bandwidth and Google bandwidth and improve performance. Google Music did not charge a fee for this.

Does anyone trust Google’s services more?

Right now YouTube Music feels like cash theft. Google is not only interrupting users by removing them from one service and asking them to move another to another service, the company is also tightening the screws and hoping to get a few more monthly subscribers in the process.

If Google maintains these restrictions when Google Music closes, I will rank it as one of the worst things the company has ever done. Google has been doing an incredible amount of damage to its brand and its ecosystem in recent years by shutting down product after product. Recently, we’ve seen it kill or plan to kill Google Inbox, Google Hangouts, Google+, Google Cloud Print, Google Allo, and YouTube Gaming, and this adds to the painful past closings that people still remember, such as the death of Google Notepad and Google. Reader.

However, the transition from Google Music to Google Home is different. All of those other services were free products, or at least advertising. No money changed hands. When Google Music dies, Google will take a hardware product that people paid for and will block music playback functionality unless they start paying a monthly fee.

I really hope the company reverses the course on this, but I’m not sure what it would do if the end of the year comes and suddenly hundreds of dollars worth of speakers stop working.

This move would be there with the death of the Works with Nest ecosystem, when Google demolished some people’s smart home settings because it wanted to close Nest accounts. At least that had the “not invented here” excuse: Nest was an acquisition. The closure of Google Music is purely Google’s attention deficit disorder in action. From an external perspective, the company does not have a top-down direction and cannot seem to stick with the products in the long term. Google executives seem to have no idea when it comes to the damage the company is causing to its own brand, and closings like this don’t just affect individual users: they send a message to the entire tech industry that they can’t be trusted in Google products and it’s not worth spending your time. We are seeing that Google reaps what it has sown with the launch of Google Stadia: developers and users stay away from the service because they expect Google to give it up in a few years.

I would like to point out that YouTube made $ 15 billion in 2019. Google’s division is not struggling to get cash. When will it be enough? Just try to do the right thing for your users before driving them all away.

Listing image for Jericho / Ron Amadeo