In a surprising but totally understandable move, Google has confirmed that it plans to combine two of its core paid streaming services, YouTube Red and Google Play Music, into a unified streaming service.
Google Plans To Combine YouTube Red And Google Music: Why?
YouTube's head of music, Lyor Cohen, confirmed the news during a panel at the New Music Seminar in New York, saying the merge aims to educate consumers and attract new subscribers.
"The important thing is combining YouTube Red and Google Play Music, and having one offering," said Cohen in response to a question about YouTube Red's failure to become more popular among music users. He has yet to confirm whether the apps themselves will merge, or just the service.
YouTube's premium streaming offerings seem a bit complicated as they stand: users can choose from YouTube Red, a premium tier for YouTube that gets rid of ads, lets users save videos offline, and grants them access to Google Play Music; YouTube Music, which, while anyone can use for free, gets better with YouTube Red; and YouTube TV, a whole service altogether.
Rumors suggesting Google will merge YouTube Red and Google Play Music has gone circling around for months, which became more plausible when Google combined both teams working on individual services earlier this year.
As The Verge reports, Google will of course notify its customers before big changes occur. The company says it treats music very seriously.
"[W]e're evaluating how to bring together our music offerings to deliver the best possible product for our users, music partners and artists." But nothing will change for users at present and, should that happen, they can expect plenty of notifications.
How Merging YouTube Red And Google Play Music Helps Solve Identity Issues
The idea of merging both services might single-handedly solve perhaps the biggest problem both YouTube Red and Google Play Music have: identity. How can one person pay for a subscription if they don't even know they can?
"[People] look at me like I have two heads. They didn't even know you can subscribe. How come people don't know about it?" Tommy Boy chairman Tom Silverman asks Cohen during the conference.
"You probably don't know there is Google Play Music either, and people really love that, too," said Cohen.
Merging services at least takes care of one problem: recognition. If Google offers a more streamlined service customers can recognize, they can jump into it more easily. But solving identity issues is just that — solving identity issues. To compete with its big-name rivals, Spotify and Apple Music, the new service would need to offer something new, perhaps even a groundbreaking feature, if not a cheaper price tag than its competitors.