Listen to Full Albums for Free, Thanks to YouTube Music

youtube music

As of today, November 18th, YouTube Music Key is here. The service isn’t widely available yet, select users will receive early access for $7.99 a month. The price will later go up to $9.99 a month. YTMK is available in the U.S. and some of Europe.

This subscription includes Google Play Music, and GPM subscribers will get YTMK for no additional charge. (What the hell is wrong with the people who name these services?)

So, what do you actually get with a YTMK subscription? The service overlaps with regular YouTube, making the whole situation very confusing. YTMK subscribers get ad-free music, offline playback, and the ability to listen to music from YouTube in the background on mobile devices. It appears that this service will happen on YouTube’s website and apps, not a standalone YTMK app.

To prepare for this rollout YouTube has added a Music section to their website and apps. This is accessible to every YouTube user.

The Music tab has list of recommended mixes and videos, music videos from channel subscriptions, and trending lists. YouTube has also added curated playlists, such as “Celebrities Covering Celebrities” and “All About 1989”.

youtube music search lorde

Now, when you search for an artist, a music section pops up next to search results (if the artist’s music has been licensed, but it’s unclear what this entails since Google has so many music services). This section has a list of top tracks, full albums, and related artists.

Yes, any YouTube user now has access to playlists containing full albums.

YTMK subscribers will get to listen to these albums ad-free.

+Taylor Swift Removes Catalogue from Chinese Streaming Services

If an artist hasn’t licensed their music, regular ol’ search results will come up (Taylor Swift for example).

youtube music full album

Album playlists pull songs from official VEVO videos. Any gaps are filled in by uploads from an artist “topic” channel.

This system has some glitches. St Vincent’s album list has her latest release, followed by four albums by other artists with similar names.

In a nutshell, YouTube has just made music even more free and accessible.



Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u

37 Responses

  1. jw

    lol. What an anticlimactic launch.

    Unsurprisingly, tons of holes in the catalog. A search for the Little Joy record doesn’t list the album, just a “top tracks” playlist with the tracks listed out of order, & some live videos in place of the studio cuts (the studio cuts are on YouTube by searching for the tracks themselves). Other artists’ catalogs are incomplete, incorrect, or all together missing. And the ones that are listed aren’t presented in any reasonable order.

    Kind of expected. As an experience, the web version pales in comparison to many dedicated streaming services. I don’t know why anyone would pay money for it.

    This is kind of just like “Oh, so YouTube added some artist playlists.” Convenient, but not worth the price tag.

  2. zoe again

    not totally true. I haven’t licensed my music to the service, but the youtube music thing comes up on the right side when you search. I do have a handful of songs in Google Play, just like I have a handful of songs in Spotify. I’ll be very curious if any of my non-google play songs appear in the musickey subscription service 😉

    • Hippydog

      I put in Zoe K in youtube and it was nice enough to finish it for me.. 🙂
      then instantly came up with a mix of 40 videos!
      wait.. most of those videos are from other artists..
      ok tried clicking on the ‘artist name’.. better and real results, and a large ‘subscribe button’
      kinda confusing on what is uploaded by you or by others.
      is sptramp also you?
      a LOT of zoe keating stuff has been uploaded by multiple users..

      trying to find YOUR actual youtube channel was kinda confusing 🙂

      though I must admit once I added you to google+ it was pretty slick..

      • zoe again

        I’ve never made a music video and my channel is mostly a placeholder, but I do have a Content ID account for the fan uploaded videos (9000+ of them). I was curious if Youtube would roll Content ID into the Music Key service but I guess for now it’s all separate, and confusing.

    • Casey

      I’ve never understood your strategy when it comes to your music’s availability on streaming. I am seeing considerably more of your music on Spotify than Rhapsody, but not the same music on either service. And I am not seeing anything on Rdio. Youtube is just a mixmatch from the looks of it.

      • zoe again

        As services have come online over the years, I’ve chosen which services I want to have more than a few songs on or which services I don’t want to be a part of. I don’t want all my music to be ubiquitous and never tried to make it so but also I’ve never been up-and-coming or trying to “break”. Many dismiss me as a naif for this but whatever, either my “strategy” hasn’t hurt me or it works 😉

  3. Anonymous

    “What the hell is wrong with the people [Google] who name these services?”

    This question is more important than it may seem.

    Here are the answers:

    1) They are not creative.
    2) They don’t pay creative people.

  4. so

    Everything I’ve seen related to the launch of this service makes it look more and more like YouTube threw this together to get the labels off of their backs, not for it to be successful. “See, we tried.”

    • Anonymous

      I have to admit that’s my impression, too. Ttheir hearts (if any) are definitely not in it.

      Also, the music adjustments are just part of a general YouTube update — there are at least 3 times more What to Watch recommendations than usual, though most of them still are kind of: “You liked Nicki Minaj’s Bang Bang so we think you may also enjoy Nicki Minaj’s Bang Bang”.

      It is a beta though, so improvements may happen. But they need to be radical. As of now, the music part is just a slightly expanded mess of the same old low-quality recordings, now organized by seriously clueless software in endless playlists.

      • Name2

        I have to admit that’s my impression, too. Ttheir hearts (if any) are definitely not in it.

        Why should they be? Didn’t Yahoo! already prove – years ago – that this product is just a giant suck on the bottom line?

        Apparently the DMN political line is that online companies

        1) have to adopt suicidal business strategies, and
        2) like it.

        • steveh

          Oh boo f**kin hoo hoo – poor little online techy companies. My heart bleeds (NOT)..

  5. Anonymous

    Wow — YouTube is a piracy site again!

    According to Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, Irving Azoff sent takedown notices to YouTube for 20,000 stolen songs — but YouTube failed to take them down!

    Yes, YouTube can afford to pay the 20,000 x $150,000, but it’s still an incredibly bad start for the new project.

    And it proves that Google is still at war with artists and songwriters.

    • Anonymous

      “Kent Walker, Esq.
      General Counsel
      YouTube (Google, Inc.)
      1600 Amphiteatre Parkway
      Mountain View, CA 94043

      Dear Mr. Walker:

      YouTube has failed to comply with our two letters of November 14, 2014 demanding the immediate cessation from public performance of almost 20,000 songs (the “Songs”) through YouTube services based upon YouTube’s failure to obtain public performance licenses from Global Music Rights (“GMR”), the exclusive licensor of those rights. In defiance of our demands, it appears that YouTube continues to broadcast videos containing the songs controlled by GMR, with each broadcast constituting a willful copyright infringement.


      King, Holmes, Paterno & Berliner, LLP”

      • Anonymous

        All the stolen Lennon songs are still available.

        This is going to be expensive…

      • Anonymous

        This is bigger than the Viacom case. The entire Google top is aware of the infringement.

        • Anonymous

          YouTube now seems to steal from Taylor Swift, too.

          Here’s what a spokesperson for Ms. Swift told BBC after Billy Bragg — a Spotify employee — criticized her from removing her catalogue from Spotify:

          “Taylor Swift has had absolutely no discussion or agreement of any kind with Google’s new music streaming service”

          • JTVDigital

            BS. Her record label signed the deal (or the major who owns her label). As a recording artist under artist contract she does not have to be consulted.
            Again, please look at the bigger picture. Who’s behind all deals with tech companies / music services?
            Major labels.

          • Anonymous


            Wow — you’re actually saying that Ms. Swift and her team are lying!

            Please provide documentation.

          • GGG

            I mean, I’m not taking sides here, but what makes the TS team default honorable folks to you? Her dad’s a banker and it’s still the music business…

          • Anonymous

            What we’re seeing here is Blame The Victim Classic.

            Spotify and their employees deliberately try to defame a young women who hasn’t done anything wrong, and JTVDigital now feels compelled to join the witch hunt.

          • Casey

            Her music’s availability on Youtube hasn’t changed. It has been freely available for years. You can’t listen to her albums on-demand like you can with other artists, but any song there is a video for can be listened to as usual. And that appears to be the majority of her music.

        • FarePlay

          And perhaps this is where ‘free in exchange for promotion’ all began with one of the earliest “disruptive” companies in the music biz.

          • Name2

            Whatevs. It gave Michael Jackson, Axl Rose, Madonna, Prince, REM, Bruce Springsteen and many others comfortable retirement plans. Ask any of those still-touring acts if they’d rather have the mindshare of a prosperous generation 30 years on, or a couple of checks for pennies, issued by the labels, back in 1988.

  6. YouTuber

    I notice your article says ad free “music”. Does this mean we get the privilege of paying You Tube $10 a month but still get served ads on every non music related video on YouTube? That would STINK.

    • anontech

      no doubt. if i pay monthly for a youtube subscription, i don’t want to see ads on anything.

  7. steveh

    It’s a bit of a relief to observe that this Youtube music venture appears to be seriously underwhelming – verging on complete shite in fact.

    I guess the music industry is not going to destroyed by this – sorry Mr Anonymous…

    • Anonymous

      “sorry Mr Anonymous”

      Point well taken — but don’t be sorry, I’m more than pleased to see it fail.

      Then again, it’s just a beta. Let’s see what the next weeks will bring…

  8. Anonymous

    While YouTube Music Key now faces serious problems, Financial Times and Forbes report that Apple plans to bundle Beats into a new verison of iOS, making it instantly available to hundreds of millions of users (not to mention 800 million registered credit cards).

    Talk about timing…

    • Casey

      Apple will have their own share of problems as they reportedly continue to fight for lower royalties. $10 per month is supposedly too high for Apple’s liking. Artists/Labels/Songwriters/Publishers/etc. should be paying closer attention to Apple instead of focusing all their attention on Spotify and Youtube.


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