Google has confirmed that it plans to merge its YouTube Red and Google Play Music services to create a unified music app, something that Google has evidently been planning since at least February when it merged the teams behind both the services.
Lyor Cohen, YouTube's head of music, confirmed the merger to The Verge during a panel session for the New Music Seminar conference in New York, saying that the company plans to create a new streaming offering. This decision is partly due to the complicated ecosystem YouTube has created since launching YouTube Red back in 2015, a subscription service which offers ad-free videos, offline saving, and access to Google Play Music.
YouTube Red was followed by YouTube Music that same year, which offered songs with or without video (and a separate audio-only mode) for free but required a Red subscription to take advantage of its ad-free services. These services have seen very few takers when considering the population that visits YouTube on a daily basis, but its availability has also been limited.
Google in a statement to The Verge said that users of both the services will be notified of any changes before they happen. "Music is very important to Google and we're evaluating how to bring together our music offerings to deliver the best possible product for our users, music partners and artists. Nothing will change for users today and we'll provide plenty of notice before any changes are made."
Cohen also plans to collaborate more directly with music labels and rights holders, saying,"In my mind, the missing piece on building these businesses is collaborating with the [music] industry, and not just making deals and going away and seeing how it works."
Merger talks began back in February when Google announced it was combining the teams behind YouTube Red and Google Play Music to create a single app. How and what the eventual service turns out to be is still unknown, but this gives one a pretty clear idea of where Google wants to go. In the past few months, Google has been introducing new features like New Release Radio and has been extending its free trial period to draw new users in an attempt to take on Apple Music.
Apple Music is currently enjoying a subscriber base of over 27 million as of June. Apple has also been pushing out original video content like Planet of the Apps, and the yet-to-launch Carpool Karaoke for Apple Music, and it is likely that Google plans on doing something along the same lines by combining YouTube Red and Google Play Music.