YouTube Red and Google Play Music to merge, says report

Google Play Music and YouTube Red will be merged to create a new streaming service, according to a report from The Verge, which Google then essentially confirmed with a statement indicating that changes are not taking place immediately. The company said users would receive plenty of notice before any changes were made, and noted it was still in the process of evaluating how to best bring its music offerings together.

The Verge report was originally based on comments made by YouTube exec Lyor Cohen at the New Music Seminar conference in New York, where he stated that “the important thing is combining YouTube Red and Google Play Music, and having one offering.”

Google’s comment indicated that some sort of changes are on the table, saying:

“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.”

Of course, YouTube Red and Google Play Music today are already tied together.

According to the YouTube Red website, a Red subscription includes a free subscription to Google Play Music. And existing Google Play Music subscribers also receive a free YouTube Red membership. It’s been this way since day one, but it’s possible that subscribers aren’t aware of this added bonus. It’s also difficult to fully enjoy this perk, as you have to switch between apps depending on whether you want to stream music or video.

In addition, YouTube Red’s service is accessible via its main YouTube app, where you can search for music videos and enjoy Red’s background play and offline listening features. But Google also operates a standalone YouTube Music app that focuses on music videos. This app can also be used for free, with ads.

It would make sense for Google to combine YouTube Music’s videos and Google Play Music’s audio into one property, given that its rivals already do the same. Apple Music and Spotify both integrate video into their own apps; and Google has an extensive music video collection, thanks to YouTube, potentially giving it an advantage.

The company did not, however, say that this was its plan. Meanwhile, others are speculating that the “merger” could be more of rebranding story, akin to something like Amazon Prime.

It’s unclear when such a move would take place, but Google’s internal teams for both have already merged, The Verge noted.