How to use YouTube Music | Tutorial & Review

Updated on 2023-06-29
If you're like me and you've been using google play music for the past couple of years and find yourself needing to transition over to youtube music, or you're just curious about what youtube music has to offer, you're in the right place. So let's dive into how to use youtube music.

If you're like me and you've been using google play music for the past couple of years and find yourself needing to transition over to youtube music, or you're just curious about what youtube music has to offer, you're in the right place. So let's dive into how to use youtube music. Youtube music is a dedicated music service from youtube, owned by Google. It leverages youtube's insanely extensive music catalog with a heavy emphasis on video and live performances since youtube, a lot of the time is the only place some of these live performances are housed. The service is available on both android and ios devices, as well as smart speakers like google's own speakers, bose speakers, Sonos speakers, JBL, and others. You can also use it from the web as well as through desktop apps on mac and windows. 


First opening up the app

When you first open the app, you'll be asked to select some artists you like, so youtube music can help narrow down the types of music it'll play for you. When you get to the main screen, you'll see that the layout is pretty simple: new releases at the top, followed by mixes especially for you.



There are a couple of mixes that I want to draw your attention to. The new release mix is a playlist updated every Friday of 30 new songs that youtube selects just for you based on your music preferences. The discover mix is a 50 song playlist updated every Wednesday with songs from artists that you already like and other pieces that youtube thinks you'll like based on your preferences. Your mix is an endless, personalized music playlist. Think of it like a radio station based on only the music and artists you like to listen to. Your likes playlist is a playlist made up entirely of the music you've given a thumbs up to on youtube music on mobile. 


Home section

Down at the bottom of the app, you'll see three tabs, home, explore, and library. The navigation bar with those tabs remains there throughout the app, so it's easy to move back and forth between these sections. On desktop, these icons are located at the top of the app. If you continue to scroll down on the home screen, you'll see more collections of playlists based either on what you've listened to before, or what's currently popular or in the genres youtube thinks you'll like. You can, of course, create your playlists as well, and we'll talk about how to do that a little later on.


Casting music with Youtube Music

In the library section of the app, at the top of the app, you'll see a Chromecast button and a search button. Casting in youtube music allows you to cast music to google devices like smart speakers, smart displays, TVs, or groups of google cast devices. On a mobile device. Just click the cast button to bring up the list of speakers that you already can cast over Wi-Fi. Select the speaker or speaker group, and your music will then start playing on that speaker or speaker group. While casting music, if you click the cast button again, you'll see the song currently playing in the volume control. If you're casting to a speaker group, you can click the arrow below the pause icon to display the volume levels for all the speakers in your google cast speaker group. 
If you're trying to cast music from the desktop app, know that there's no dedicated cast button just yet, but you can still cast your audio. Click the three dots at the top right-hand corner, select cast, and select the device or speaker group you want to cast to. 


Now playing screen

When you want to play a song and click it on the app, you'll see a new bar appear at the bottom of the app. When you click it, it'll bring up the now playing screen that'll take up the full view. Swipe the now playing screen back down on mobile, or click the bar again on the desktop to go back to the previous view. When it first comes up on the mobile app, you'll see some controls on the album artwork. When you click on the album artwork again, you'll know that you have the options to share, download, add to a playlist, make album artwork, landscape and cast. You can cast the song you're currently playing to a speaker or speaker group right from this view. If you're not casting music to a speaker or speaker group, you'll also see a song and video slider up at the top, which allows you to switch between the song or the music video version, if available. One of the best ways to improve your experience with youtube music is when you're listening to a song, to give a song that you like a thumbs up, or give it a thumbs down if you don't like the song. This will help refine your music suggestions over time.

You can give a song a thumbs up or down in the youtube app on mobile and desktop in the now playing screen. And if you're playing music through a smart speaker or an android phone, you can tell the google assistant that you either like a song or don't like a song, and the google assistant will give that song either a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Let's look at a few other parts of the now playing screen, the ability to scroll through to part of a song, skip back, skip forward, play, slash pause. You can also skip forward or skip back a track by swiping on the album artwork to see the songs that youtube music is planning to play next. Swipe up the bar at the bottom. You can then reshuffle the automated list of songs in the up next section. Youtube tries to figure out what songs to play next based on the song you pick to listen to, as well as your various music tastes.

You can click lyrics to see the song's lyrics currently playing, when available and related, which will show you songs you might also like based on what you're now listening to. Playlists you might like similar artists and more from the artists that you're currently listening to. 

Swipe back up to the now playing section with the album artwork, there's one last part of this view to go over, and that's the three dots up at the top. When you click that, you're going to see a lot of options. First up is start radio. This will create a radio station based on the song you're currently playing. Radio stations will begin with the music you chose and then play other songs by other artists and songs by the same artist you decided to play next.

We'll add the song to the play next section. And to q will also add the music to the current queue of songs. And to a library, which adds that song to your library. Download, which downloads the song for offline listening. Add to playlist allows you to add the song to an existing playlist you've already created, or it'll allow you to create a new one. Go to the album will take you to the album where the song is from. You'll see the album artwork with the album title and three pressing buttons in the album view. Add to library, download, and the three dots added to library will add this song to your youtube music library. The download will download the song to your device. And the three dots will give you some similar options that we've seen in the now simple three dots menu. The album view will also allow you to start playing the album or shuffle it. And if you want to add specific songs to your library and not the whole album, you can click the three dots next to the music in the album view and select add to the library. Back to the three dots menu on the now playing page, go to the artist will take you to the artist's page in youtube music. This will show you the artist's latest release, top songs, allow you to shuffle a playlist of their songs or start a radio with that artist, see their albums in singles, videos other artists related to this one that fans might like, and an about section giving you more information about the artist and their total view count across youtube. The last options on the three dots menu are share, which allows you to share the song through your social platforms, or send to friends and family reports, which will enable you to report content that might violate youtube's terms of service. 

Use Other Services with Youtube Music

Using Google Assistant and YouTube Music

So that's the now plain view. There's one more way you can play music from youtube music, and that's by using an intelligent assistant. You can use google assistant on android devices or other devices like smart speakers and smart displays that support the google assistant to make youtube music your default service. Go into your google assistant settings, select services, then music, and then select youtube music.


Using Siri with YouTube Music

If you're an iPhone user, you can use Siri to play music from the youtube music. Just tell Siri to play a song or artist on youtube music. And as long as you have the youtube music app downloaded on your phone. It should work. 

Other Functions of Youtube Music

Explore sections

Let's move to the second section of the app, which is the explorer tab. The explorer tab is divided into several sections: new albums and singles, moods and genres, and new music videos. One of the most significant advantages that youtube music has over its competition is music videos. And that's thanks to the fact that youtube music leverages youtube, the world's largest video platform and arguably the world's most extensive music catalog, thanks to the sheer number of indie artists who upload to the forum.

Search functionality

When you search for a song in the app, you'll see both songs and videos in your search results. You can always switch back and forth between songs and the music videos in the app. There's also a setting in the app that will force youtube music to default to audio-only or album versions of songs.


Uploading music to YouTube Music

The last section of the youtube music app to talk about is the library section. And this highlights another critical difference between youtube music and the competition. Youtube music lets you upload up to a hundred thousand songs from your music library to the service. You can do this by going to music youtube com and dragging your music files anywhere on the screen or clicking on your profile picture and then selecting upload music back to the app.


Library section

The library section will show you your downloads, which you can set manually. And the service will also automatically download some of your most listened to songs and playlists, like songs that you've given a thumbs up to. Youtube also created a playlist called your offline mixtape that'll include a lot of the songs it's noticed that you've listened to quite a bit. The following section in the library is playlists. From here, you can see the playlist that you've created from your youtube music library. Do note that it'll sometimes include playlists from youtube that include music videos that you may have made a while back, mainly those of videos. In this view, you can also create a new playlist. You can give it a title and set its privacy. So you can make playlists public, so they're easy to share with your friends. The artist's songs and albums section are all pretty similar, so let's go ahead and dive into one of them. The song section will show you songs you've uploaded or added to your library, as well as songs that you've liked in youtube music, all in one view. If you want to view the songs you've uploaded to your library, click on uploads at the top. Subscriptions at the bottom will show you the artists you've subscribed to on youtube. You can subscribe to artists in youtube music through the artist page. But do note at the time that we've recorded this video. When you subscribe to an artist through youtube music, you will also be subscribed to that artist on youtube. That covers the different main sections of the youtube music app.

Important settings of Youtube Music

Before we wrap up, I want to quickly cover some essential things that you can find in the settings of the youtube music app. You can get to locations by clicking on your youtube profile icon at the top right-hand corner of the mobile and desktop app. Then select Settings at the top. You'll see library and downloads. This will show you how much storage youtube music's downloads are taking up. You can also set the download quality for downloaded music and video quality for videos. Enabling smart downloads will automatically trigger youtube music to save your favorite music offline when you're on Wi-Fi with a sufficient battery. Going back, you'll see options like stream via Wi-Fi only so it doesn't hog your mobile data. Or, don't play music videos, which will default youtube music to playing audio-only or album versions of songs. Here you can also set what audio quality you want on Wi-Fi versus mobile data. Youtube music also has an equalizer, setting a restricted mode to filter out explicit songs, captions preferences. And double-tap to see advanced enable stats for nerds. Also, you'll see the ability to transfer from google play music to youtube music. Clicking this will guide you through sharing all of your music from google play music to youtube music. Do note that it just copies over your music and data. It doesn't remove anything from google play music. Improve your recommendations will bring you to the artist bubble screen where you can select which artists you like to help improve your requests like you saw when you first started using youtube music. The privacy and location settings contain settings to pause your watch history, pause search history, use your play music history. And also, you can break location-based recommendations as well.


Pricing Comparison

Free vs. paid version

Lastly, let's talk about the paid version versus the accessible version of youtube music. The performance of youtube music that I use is the paid version. The free version allows you to play specific songs by specific artists and radio stations, all that stuff, just with ads. 
The premium version of youtube music does come with some pretty significant benefits, including ad-free listening, plus background play, which will allow you to play music in the background of your mobile device even when you close the app. Download music offline, use audio-only mode. This is the feature I demoed, where you only want to listen to the album version of a song without loading the music video version. Suppose you're traveling to a different country where youtube music isn't available. In that case, the music content that's available to you at home will travel with you for up to six months, so you can keep listening to all of your favorite music. And your downloads will remain available to you for 30 days without an internet connection. The last main benefit of youtube music premium is the ability to shuffle all of your downloads.

YouTube Premium vs. YouTube Music Premium

Youtube music premium costs 9.99 a month here in the united states. And that's not the version of the service I use. I use what's called youtube premium, which costs 12.99 per month here in the US. And what youtube premium gives you is you do get youtube music premium, plus you get an ad-free experience on youtube itself for just three dollars a month more. So for me, that was worth it.