Google Assistant Can Now Play Personal YouTube Music Playlists as Google Play Winds Down
Google Assistant will soon be able to play personal YouTube Music playlists as a replacement for Google Play Music, which the company is starting to shut down. The idea is for YouTube Music’s streaming service to be able to do everything Play Music does by the time the latter service ends, including all of the voice capabilities.
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Google announced plans to end Play Music and consolidation with YouTube Music last year, and has been inching toward that goal ever since. In May, Google added a transfer function for Play users to move their content to YouTube Music. Google Assistant can currently access and play the curated playlists on YouTube Music, but not personal ones created by users. The new feature is still in limited testing, according to Google, but should be available to every user by the time Play shutters for good. Google has said it plans to end purchases from the Play store this month, followed by ending streaming from the app globally in October. The actual data will still be available until December to encourage any lingering Play users to transfer their content before it vanishes.
“You’ve asked for YouTube Music to be better integrated with other third-party apps and services, and our teams are excited to deliver on these requests,” a YouTube staffer explained on a support page about the transition. “[W]e’re also testing the ability for you to play personal playlists from YouTube Music via Google Assistant – a feature that many of you have previously asked for. This is currently available to all YouTube Music listeners on Nest speakers and smart displays in the United States, with plans to roll out to more countries and devices in the future!”
The new tests come on the heels of Google giving its voice assistant the ability to put together a playlist. Listeners ask Google Assistant to play recommended music from YouTube Music and the AI collates a list based on songs and genres a user has previously indicated they like. However good the recommendations may be, it’s not the same as pulling up a personally curated list of songs. Google has a history of moving around content as it launches or consolidates services, most notably in its repeated attempts to create a successful social network service.
The Google Play to YouTube Music fits with that strategy, but the fact that it replaces MP3 ownership with a streaming service is suggestive of how people consume audio content today and how Google believes they will do so in the future. Advertising is one major reason that streaming might be an appealing model for companies. Regular audio ads or interactive ones like those Pandora is testing out all add to the revenue stream, just like on YouTube videos. There’s some evidence backing up Google on the popularity of streaming over playing music someone owns. Sonos claims streaming accounts for about half of the time people spend on its app, although listening to the radio is up too. That’s part of why it launched its own streaming audio service earlier this year.