South Africa is finally joining countries like Canada, the United States and Argentina with the addition of another music streaming service in the form of YouTube Music and YouTube Music Premium.
Launched at Sally Mustang in Sandton on Tuesday evening, the new service boasts features including audio toggle which allows you to turn on the music without loading the video; smart search which helps you find the name of a song by lyrics, description and even emojis; and background play which allows you to play music from YouTube while using another app.
Mich Atagana, head of communications and public affairs at Google SA, promised that the new music streaming service will be very user centric.
“The app understands the user. YouTube is a place that people have always gone to, to consume music, enjoy musical content as well as different forms of music from around the world. It’s a culture, it’s a lifestyle, a personal experience of how people are meant to experience music,” she told City Press at the launch.
YouTube – which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet – is the world’s most popular online video community and allows billions of people to discover, watch and share a video.
“What we have done with this streaming service is bring the power of YouTube with it. It provides recommendations based on what you’ve played before, where you are and what you’re doing. It understands what I am thinking about based on what I have played before. It will suggest music to me based on where I am in my day and what kind of mood I am in and even where in the world I am visiting,” Atagana said.
The AI will be able to know if “I am commuting to work, it will [then] give me music that will, in a sense, boost my energy levels. It also realises where I am in my day, so in the evening I am at home, I am relaxed, and it will automatically give me the option of the kind of music that goes with that particular mood”, Atagana added.
The head of communications went on to explain how the smart search feature works even with a varied search query.
“So if I am looking for a song that I don’t know the name of, but I know that people are doing or performing some silly act to it such as ‘Idibala’, I can just type in ‘fainting song’ and it will bring up the correct King Monada song,” she said.
According to Atagana, although user centric, the new streaming service will also play a huge role in the local music industry.
“There’s a lot of local artist discovery on the app. We have created an app that understands local music taste. Every week it will review the top 100 South African songs locals are actually listening to. So it also makes it easy for you to discover local South African artists,” she said.
DJ and radio personality Noni Rwaxa, popularly known as Ms Cosmo, was at the launch and told City Press that she was excited about the new service.
“It is going to be quite innovative for music artists in particular, purely because it will be easier for people to access our music, to find it and engage with us and our playlists too,” she said.
Speaking about already existing music streaming services, Rwaxa said that YouTube Music was a great platform for local artists to grow.
“YouTube is a full platform and providing videos is great, but for it to streamline, for you to focus on an artist makes it that much easier. The same way you can have a profile on iTunes or Spotify, this service is going to give us [local artists] the same kind of advantage and interaction with our fans,” she said.
Google South Africa head of marketing, Asha Patel, said that people who were already Google Play users could automatically get YouTube Music.
“Google Play Music subscribers will automatically receive access to YouTube Music Premium at their current price. Nothing is changing with Google Play Music – you’ll still be able to access all of your purchased music, uploads and playlists in Google Play Music just like always,” she said.
“Users who sign up to the ad-free YouTube Music Premium within the next two weeks can use it for free for the next three months. Following that subscribers will pay R59.99 per month per user, or R89.99 per month for up to six users. Premium users will also get access to all the features.
With the night clearly about music, some artists whose music could become easily accessible through the app took to the stage to shine. The likes of Lady Zamar, Nasty C, Ricky Rick and Amanda Black all gave outstanding performances late into the night.