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YouTube Music: Why It Sucks and Why I Still Use It

YoutubeMusicWhat do you use to listen to music?

For most of us in 2023, that’s an app on our phone.  We might cast it to something with biggest speakers when we’re home, but it’s still Apple Music or Spotify.  There’s also Amazon music…I guess…does anyone actually use that?  Maybe if you were one of the few who bought Amazon’s phone during the 9 months of its existence.

And then there’s YouTube.  Tons of people “stream music” on YT because it’s free, they use YT to watch videos, and so when they want to listen to something, why not just type the artist into the search bar?  Given the ubiquity of ad blockers, this is an attractive option.  YouTube eventually released YouTube Music as a way to try to capture more of the music streaming market.

Apple has a dual marketing model.  You can buy individual albums or songs and then listen to them as much as you want.  Or you can subscribe to their streaming service, which gives you access to the entire catalog as long as you are a subscriber.  With Spotify and YouTube Music, there’s only the streaming service.

Why Use YouTube Music?

The answer is “because you subscribe to YouTube Premium”.

There’s no single person on the entire planet who says “I subscribe to YouTube Music but I never use YouTube”.  Not one.  I talked to all seven billion humans couldn’t find anyone.

You use YoutubeMusic because it’s included with YouTube Premium.  You might subscribe to YT Premium for different reasons – downloads, no ads, premium content.  And then Music comes along for free and wah-lah, you’re counted as a Music subscriber.

Is It Any Good?

Not really.  If you’ve ever been involved with a product or organization where someone makes a list of features and then people try to make the minimum solution that can check those boxes but avoid excelling in any way, that’s YouTube Music.

Is there tons of music?  Sure…but when you search for an artist, you’re searching YT.  So if you’re looking for Willie Jones’ Slow Cookin’, you might get the official VEVO-certified high quality copy or you might get a version someone ripped and uploaded that cuts off the last 30 seconds.

There’s no curation to say “this version of Forgettable Pop Song is the one people want,” so sometimes you get auto-playlisted into the “Extended 9″ Techno Remix of Forgettable Pop Song”.  Or you search for Forgettable Pop Song and get a cover some teenager did on a flute.

These are just selection problems.  A bit more egregious is the fact that everything on all your playlists are sorted into one giant group.  So if you created a couple dozen YT playlists with videos and then create a couple dozen YT music playlists, you’re going to be scrolling through all of that to find your Never Fails Seduction playlist at 1am.

The app also sometimes struggles with downloads.  For example, you add a track to a playlist and the playlist sometimes auto-downloads and sometimes it doesn’t.  If you really want to get around this, you can manually download the songs, but then if you mark the playlist as “do not download,” you have individual tracks from it that are still downloaded and…ugh.

There are the other usual streaming headaches, such as only being able to the music they offer and not add anything of your own, though this is not YT specific.

Start a radio?  Sure, and it works, but only as well as Pandora and such.  If that technology consistently delivers what you want to hear, congrats but for me it’s always a mush of songs I’ve recently played and tracks I have zero interest in.


So…YouTube Music.  Minimum viable product, and not much more.

I love YouTube and since I’m a subscriber there, it’s a free add-on.  As a free add-on, sure, it’s awesome.  But as something that could stand against competing services on its own…not a chance.





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