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As new YouTube ‘Remix’ streaming service nears, Google unsurprisingly killing Play Music

Update: A source tells us that Google is currently planning to stick with the “YouTube Music” brand for the forthcoming music service. Remix, as has been previously reported, is only the internal codename.

A tipster told us recently that Google has lately been “preparing to shut down Google Play Music,” something that I hinted at early today in a tweet listing the service among a couple of other current Google products that I think are about to get cut. While we couldn’t corroborate the tip, it appears Droid-Life has — Play Music subscription streaming is likely shutting down soon.

Specifically, our tipster said that Google was planning to “move the entire service over to YouTube Music [“Remix”].” They said that Google is “working on YouTube Music features to bring it more in line with what Play Music offers.” While our tipster didn’t provide a timeline, Kellen’s “reliable source” says “users will be forced off of Play Music by the end of 2018 and onto Remix.”

This isn’t exactly surprising if you know the story here. All the way back in February of last year, Google combined their YouTube and Play Music teams in order to “deliver the best possible product.”

Then, last July, Google itself basically told us that one of the two services would get the chopping block. Specifically responding to why YouTube Red isn’t more popular with users, YouTube Music head Lyor Cohen said, “The important thing is combining YouTube Red and Google Play Music, and having one offering.”

With Play Music not exactly being a hugely successful contender in the streaming space, along with the fact that YouTube is a hugely successful contender in the video streaming space and a ubiquitous household name, one could have assumed all the way back in mid-2017 that Play Music would eventually get the chopping block to be replaced by a mysterious new YouTube service.

Then, Bloomberg report said almost matter-of-factly that YouTube would be the surviving brand. Internally codenamed “Remix,” the new service features would have on-demand streaming with video clips and other YouTube-like elements.

Meanwhile, our teardowns of the main YouTube and YouTube Music Android apps at the time showed references to a “YouTube Plus” subscription tier. More recent teardowns of YouTube Music have prepped things like SD Card support, “Recommendations” in place of “Stations”, Play Music’s audio quality settings, and more. Basically, the writing has been on the wall.

At SXSW, a Lyor Kohen confirmed that YouTube’s upcoming subscription service would “combine the best of Google Play Music’s context server” with the “breadth and depth of catalog” of YouTube.

Google’s music strategy has long been remarkably confusing for consumers, with a $9.99 monthly subscription that provides access to Play Music’s library of 40 million songs, as well as an ad-free video playback experience on the (to the public, seemingly-unrelated) YouTube. Now, it looks like things are all going to be in one place — and that place will be YouTube.

There’s no word on pricing for the new service, but a launch is expected this year.

9to5Google’s Take

It’s long been known that YouTube Music or Play Music (one or the other) was getting the axe, and Play Music seemed like the obvious candidate for death for those paying attention to the unfolding story and our app teardowns of YouTube Music (which showed Play Music features trickling in).

But it’s still unclear at this point what the fate will be for the Play brand and the Play Music app itself, which still serves as an access point for uploaded music and an app for listening to music purchased on the Play Store. Is the Play Music app going away entirely? If so, are the other “Play” apps getting the axe? Where will Google provide access to a huge back catalog of purchased songs?

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Avatar for Stephen Hall Stephen Hall

Stephen is Growth Director at 9to5. If you want to get in touch, follow me on Twitter. Or, email at stephen (at) 9to5mac (dot) com, or an encrypted email at hallstephenj (at) protonmail (dot) com.