Google Play Music will be closing soon, and the transition to YouTube Music is currently poor. For users with uploaded music, the transfer tool will port your music seamlessly. However, once you get into the YouTube music interface, you will find that many features have been lost and things that used to work at the free tier suddenly don't. If my email inbox is a clue, hordes of people are looking for alternatives.
However, Google is not deaf to the concerns of the Google Music migrants. In response to articles we posted here like "YouTube Music thinks my speakers are a ransom," Google contacted us and sent a statement:
We understand that for many of our users on YouTube Music, uploaded content is an integral part of the listening experience. While some features for uploaded content are not currently working in the free YouTube Music experience, we are working hard to address these functional gaps and bring additional functionality to our free users. We look forward to releasing more updates soon.
While this is a bit vague, the call for user uploaded content is a change of tone from what the company said in June. Our YouTube Music article mainly focused on the changes to the free or premium features in YouTube Music and Google Music, including requiring a monthly fee to play purchased and uploaded music on Google Home speakers. Before we published this article, we checked again with Google whether the fees for using a Google Home from YouTube Music were really planned. The company would only confirm the current restrictions.
We also had a short chat with Brandon Bilinski, YouTube Music's Product Manager. The main message was that the YouTube Music move is more about merging branding and infrastructure than changing strategy or a tougher stance on paid subscriptions. The main confirmed changes announced last week are the shutdown of the desktop operating system program "Music Manager" as a bulk upload and Google's exit from the a la carte song selling business. You can still drag and drop music to the site and YouTube Music will keep track of your Google Music song purchases.
For recording, we addressed every major YouTube music shortage we can think of, like the requirement to pay the monthly streaming license to broadcast audio to speakers, download music for offline playback, sort music lists, song – Editing information, Android Auto support, and the weird mixing of YouTube and music content. While Google does not want to publicly commit to a schedule or promise to add certain features, it is at least aware of the current feature gaps and user complaints.
I think a big part of the problem is that Google only made the negative part of its roadmap very transparent. Plans to shut down Google Music were announced four months in advance. This is a good thing, but it would also help the company counteract all of this negative information and go into details on the positive parts of its YouTube Music roadmap. Of course, just talking about the negatives leaves a negative impression, and especially given that some Google shutdowns have happened in the past, people have been looking for alternatives.
The company obviously hopes this statement will allay Google Music migrants' fears, but the clock is ticking! Google Music will cease streaming for most of the world in October, leaving the company only two months to bring out some of the key features if it wants to keep the music going for its old Google Music customers. Some of the feature parity work done by the YouTube Music team is already visible. Voice command support for uploaded YouTube Music playlists will only be tested last week. The company also spent months developing the migration tool – which works very well – and I think with that statement it makes it clear that Google didn't want to do all of that work to cause a mass exodus from service later.