A while ago, Google announced it would discontinue Play Music this year. The company promised to work hard on making YouTube Music a viable alternative, and it looks like it's now happy with what the new app has become. As such, Google shared today that it will discontinue Play Music starting this September.
Google wouldn't be Google if there wasn't a rollout involved. Play Music will first shut down in New Zealand and South Africa in September, and the rest of the world will follow in October. You'll be able to extract your data and music files all the way through December this year via Google Takeout. That's an option regardless of whether or not you're switching to YouTube Music or a competitor, but if you go for Google's new streaming service, you can also use its dedicated migration tool for a more seamless transition. The tool will remain available for 30 days after you lose access to Play Music. If you don't use it, Google will notify you that it will automatically stop billing you once Play Music is gone.
In late August, Google will hinder you from purchasing or pre-ordering music through the Play Store, and you won't be able to upload or download music via the Music Manager. That means that Google is completely abandoning the music download market, offering only streaming going forward. That's not too surprising if you ask me — the Play Store Music section has been rather hidden since the new bottom bar rolled out to the distribution platform, remaining in the hamburger menu under "Browse Music." You can still use YouTube Music's upload feature in the future to add music you've purchased elsewhere, though.
Google is eager to let everyone know how much it worked on making YouTube Music a worthy replacement for Play Music. The company highlights what it's added to the platform in the course of the last few months (our own coverage linked in the cited text below):
- Playlists: We’re continuously evolving the way listeners can create and enjoy playlists, including:
- Assistive Playlist Creation - Quickly and easily create playlists by adding recommended songs based on existing songs in the playlist, as well as personalized signals, such as watch history and likes.
- Collaborative Playlists - Collaborate with other music fans to create shared playlists for any occasion.
- New Programmed Playlists - Explore newly launched programmed playlists like Highline, Caribbean Pulse, Conditions Underground, and more.
- New Features and Improvements:
- Player Page Redesign - Updates to the player page, available for Android mobile users, provides a more modern design that allows better playback controls and easier access to related music and other features like song lyrics.
- Explore Tab - The new Explore tab, available on both mobile and the web is the consistent destination to find new releases including albums, singles, and music videos, as well as browse our vast catalog of diverse playlists through the Moods & Genre section.
- More Ways to Enjoy YouTube Music:
- Android TV - An update for Android TV brings YouTube Music to the big screen, letting listeners enjoy videos and live performances from their favorite artists, along with all their favorite music.
- Google Maps - The Android integration lets listeners seamlessly listen to music and get personalized music recommendations within the Google Maps interface.
- Discover music with Google Assistant - You can now ask your Google Home and Nest smart speakers, “Hey Google, play recommended music from YouTube Music.” Then, Google Assistant will share personalized recommendations based on your favorite artists and genres.
I still think there's a lot of work ahead, and there are a few things that haven't made it into YouTube Music yet. It's not possible to start your own playlists or uploaded songs via the Assistant, the YouTube Music "app" on Android TV is a serious downgrade from the Play Music experience, and more. There are also some awkward changes, like the strict separation of YouTube Music streaming content and uploads. While the latter is likely an intended change, I still hope that Google will work on getting everything else right.