Google’s lengthy road to shutting down its music streaming service Google Play Music is finally reaching an end.
Google Play will be replaced by the Google-owned YouTube Music by December, the company announced today (Aug. 4), and users will have until then to transfer their music libraries, personal taste preferences and playlists to the latter streaming service. The news comes nearly three years since YouTube’s global head of music, Lyor Cohen, first divulged plans to merge the two platforms in July 2017.
Google Play will be phased out in stages. Starting in late August, users will no longer be able to purchase or download music on the Google Play app. Users in New Zealand and South Africa will begin to lose access to streaming on the app altogether in September, and for all other global markets including the U.S., that will happen in October.
“For Google Play listeners that have not yet started the transfer process over to YouTube Music, now’s the time,” the company’s announcement reads, and it introduced a transfer tool to help users do so in May. As previously announced, paying Google Play subscribers will be automatically granted the equivalent tier on YouTube Music, at the same price.
Of course, Google Play users can end their subscriptions instead — but the company hopes to retain their interest with a suite of improvements to the YouTube Music app. Updates announced today include the ability to create collaborative playlists; a redesigned user interface and Explore tab; and integration with Android TV, Google Maps and the smart speaker Google Assistant.
For now, YouTube Music still lags behind its competitors. In February, Google announced that YouTube Premium — the $11.99 per month subscription service that includes YouTube Music — has reached 20 million subscribers. By comparison, Spotify recently upped its paid subscriber count to 138 million, while as of July 2019, Apple Music had over 60 million total subscribers (including paid and trial users).