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Google Combines YouTube Music, Google Play Music Teams as First Step to Unified Music Offering

Variety logo Variety 2/8/2017 Janko Roettgers
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Google has combined the product teams for its two music subscription services, YouTube Music and Google Play Music. The combined team is working to eventually unify Google’s music services. Google informed its staff about these changes Wednesday morning, and confirmed them with the following statement sent to press:

“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.”

The Verge was first to report on the changes Wednesday, but Google CEO Sundar Pichai actually dropped a hint at these changes during last week’s Alphabet earnings call, where he said:

“I would think about it as we’re investing a lot in developing this premium experience. We have YouTube Red, YouTube Music and we do offer it across Google Play Music as well. You will see us invest more. More countries, more original content. And we’ll bring together the experiences we have over the course of this year so it’s even more compelling for users.”

Google is known for often having multiple teams working on the same problem, and music subscriptions have been no different for the company. Google Play Music was initially under the helm of the Android group, which was spearheaded by Android founder Andy Rubin.

After Rubin’s departure, a power shift led to YouTube gaining influence, and the two teams started to use some shared resources under YouTube’s helm. Most notably, all of the music partnership and licensing work has already been done by YouTube for some time, multiple sources told Variety this week.

The big question for Google going forward is how it will eventually market and brand its paid music service. YouTube has a far stringer brand than Google Play Music, but most users also associate YouTube with free content — which could make it harder to get people to sign up for a paid service.

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