YouTube’s much rumoured music streaming service was finally revealed as Google announced the beta test for Youtube Music Key. The service will provide some 20 million songs for listeners over the browser, iOS, and Android. What makes this different from the other streaming services is that Music Key will also be streaming music videos instead of just audio.
Beginning from today YouTube users will be able to see a new Music tab on the web version of the site. This appears to be part of the initial rollout of the focus on music as it functions just like the What To Watch tab by recommending music videos and playlists. YouTube is also currently recommending YouTube mixes, which appear to be collections of videos sorted by artist created by the site itself. Mobile apps will see this new feature appearing at some point next week.
YouTube Music Key on the other hand, will provide additional services on top of the regular video streaming. Users will be able to access all of Google Play Music, which includes some 30 million songs. The mobile app will also be able to continue playing video while the display is locked or another app is open. More importantly, a premium subscription will provide the option for offline play of music videos; saving people the time and effort of using third party apps to save YouTube videos.
Google is starting the YouTube Music Key beta test in the US and six European countries. It is unknown if this test will be expanded to other countries as well, or if we will have to wait for the final product. The beta will be free for the first six months with a promotional subscription fee of US$7.99 per month after that. It is likely that the final product will have pricing closer to that of the competition like Spotify or Rdio (around US$9.99).