YouTube Music Key Beta is here and it’s time to rethink what exactly counts as Music

Posted on Nov 13 2014 - 8:16pm by Sukanya
YouTube Music Key will enable full access to Google Play music service library

YouTube Music Key will enable full access to Google Play music service library

YouTube is known to have made many transitions, albeit slow and steady ever since its inception in the year 2005. From a basic video content library, the YouTube we know and love today is an interfusion of a video streaming medium, a hub for vlogger channels and a free partner-label music album preview site. Though it has morphed into so many things in all these years, the site hasn’t made any massive changes for smartphones as such except a few design tweaks and to change that, the YouTube Music Key is finally bringing the best of its music collection in Beta version on Google Play for Android phones. 

Fashioned like popular music discovery and player apps such as Spotify, the all new YouTube Music Key application will enable users to access all the content in Google Play Music. 

YouTube Music Key Beta flaunts Offline view mode and Background Playback

YouTube Music Key Beta flaunts Offline view mode and Background Playback

What will likely make this resonate with the crowd is the feature of Ad-free music playback as well as the background player widget and caching for offline viewing – bringing in all those aspects that were in popular demand ever since YouTube made a smartphone app.

While you are watching a music video on the app, you will find the “Ad-free” icon and the View Offline tick mark. However, the ad-free playback feature which exclusively available to subscribers of the monthly service, does not affect YouTubers and music album producers as you might wonder. They will still get the revenue accruing out of the ad placements though the ad does not play to the viewer. 

You Tube Music Key introduced Ad-free music playback

You Tube Music Key introduced Ad-free music playback

All said and done, the addition of these perks does raise some pressing questions. What does YouTube include within the purview of its definition – if one might call it that – of music? We all know that YouTube is not and never was exclusively for big labels and big buck music artists to release their work. YouTube is home to a motley crew of video clips: home-made mock-ups as video responses, hit album spoofs, independent musicians and composers with a channel, amateur songsters getting groovy with their guitar, jingles, fan-made tributes and many more from contributors all over the world, apart from all the music tours and events. Now if all of them are considered ‘music’ too by YouTube Music Key, will the app then add the ad-free option to these videos too?

Matt McLernon, YouTube spokesperson explained what Music Key will host and based on what it will decide what actually qualifies as music. He affirms that the company will count on the information it gets from the music label production house or the uploader. Fine-tuning will also be done with the help of insight from trusty YouTube fans, taking into account what they are looking for and what they find lacking or irrelevant. With over 300 hours of audio-visual getting uploaded on the site per minute, what one can construe is that music according to YouTube is no longer just the highest hit-earning clips and the line of demarcation between music and all that is excluded isn’t so definitive, to say the least. 

In 2007, YouTube got so popular and ubiquitous that it consumed worldwide bandwidth usage equivalent to what the rest of the internet did, all combined. The official blog post confirming the release of Music Key asserts that it will play full music albums in high quality audio without much bandwidth consumption.

Watch the promotional video depicting the journey YouTube has taken so far:

Though it’s a video encyclopedia in its own right, it hasn’t always been easy to find the entire bunch of songs in an album we are looking for. But on the beta app, users will get to discover the entire collection or card catalogue of an artist’s work showing all the other songs in the album. 

Out on a pre-release offer, YouTube Music Key is available at a promotional $7.99 while the original to be priced at $9.99 monthly subscription.

If you log into, the site shows a new tab that launches the Music playlists section. You can see recommendation lists as follows

  • YouTube Mixes
  • Top Trending Music Videos by Genre
  • Trending Music Videos
  • Recommendations based on previously watched Music

YouTube believes in making music better as a way of giving back to users who constantly helped the site improve itself with the feedback every music album gets via comments, shares, views, upvotes and downvotes and favorites.

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