An insight into YouTube Red, a new subscription-based direction

YouTube Music and YouTube Red

Ever since YouTube’s first video was uploaded in 2005, the mammoth website has become dominant in the video-sharing sphere. In 2006 Google purchased YouTube for almost $2 billion and the site has been expanding wide and far. Currently, YouTube is trying to get in on the subscription service action (like Spotify and Netflix) and, make YouTube more exclusive and specialized. Here is everything you need to know about the new YouTube Red subscription service as well as its free counterpart, YouTube Music.

YouTube Red

On 28 October 2015 YouTube announced its first subscription service called YouTube Red. It costs $9.99 a month and includes a subscription to Google Play Music. Unfortunately, iPhone users will pay $12.99 but can avoid this price hike by signing up on a desktop. If you’re subscribed to Google Play Music already, you get YouTube Red automatically. Your subscription will also extend across all devices.

YouTube Red’s main appeal seems to be that you can view videos ad-free (which is usually the main way creators get paid). Also, you can save videos offline, but you must have more than 5% storage left on the device. Another highly-requested feature is the ability to play videos in the background while doing other things but the feature only kicks in when when headphones or speakers are connected to the device.

YouTube has commissioned original shows from its most popular creators that will be exclusive to YouTube Red subscribers. Some of these shows include, Scare Pewdiepie (featuring Pewdiepie who is YouTube’s biggest gaming star), Lazer Team (a feature-length action comedy movie by Rooster Teeth), and Fight of the Living Dead by Alpine Labs (a zombie reality show featuring YouTube stars).

Unfortunately, YouTube Red is currently only available in the United States, likely due to licensing red tape. There is no news yet as to when it will be released to the rest of the world. It has garnered some criticism from YouTube creators who believe that YouTube Red will put them out of a job. It has been noted that YouTubers who refuse to sign the revenue share deal for YouTube Red will have their videos hidden from public view.

YouTube Music

YouTube has long been the go-to site to view music videos and, discover new artists and bands. Artists often debut their latest releases on YouTube, sometimes with record-breaking results, like Psy’s Gangnam Style. Because of this YouTube has decided to release a standalone app called YouTube Music.

YouTube Music is free to download for iPhone and Android. If it is coupled with a YouTube Red subscription ads are removed. You can play music while offline or in the background, and also have the ability to play only the audio of a song. When you download the YouTube Music app, you have to opt-in to a 14-day free trial of YouTube Red.

The YouTube Music app creates auto-generated playlists based on your searches but, unfortunately, you cannot create your own unique lists or queue up which songs to play next. Within the app you will find three tabs. The first tab is Home which showcases recent songs you’ve played and recommendations based on those plays. Next, you will find the Flame tab which displays the music trending on YouTube and the newest releases. In this tab there is also a top 40 list of music called The Daily 40. The last tab is the Thumbs-Up tab which lists songs you have liked.

You can also get an offline mixtape that downloads songs based on your listening history, or if that’s not possible, what’s popular on YouTube. When listening to a song in portrait mode it is displayed in a box in the upper half of your screen. Below the video, two tabs appear called Playing Now and Explore. Playing Now shows information about the video and song, and displays the next five songs that will be played. YouTube calls this a station. If you rotate it for a landscape view the video becomes full screen.

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Some users are extremely excited about the new direction that YouTube is going in while others ask “why pay for something that you can already get for free?” Do you think it’s a good idea or will it possibly alienate users and potential creators alike?