YouTube Music Key Brings Music Videos to Google Play Music

YouTube Music Key with Google Play Music integration may have me watching music videos again. It’s been many years since I sat down and watched music videos. I’m guilty of background music listening. I’m usually listening to music when I’m doing something else (unless I’m sitting down to listen to hi-res music). I don’t really have time to sit down and watch videos, but I still enjoy a new video when I happen to catch one.

Music videos are a large part of YouTube and I’ve had several discussions with people who watch music videos instead of listening on a streaming music app. Along with other official videos, YouTube has integrated music videos from VEVO—a service of which Google has a partial ownership along with Universal Music Group and a number of other partners. The videos are partially monetized through commercials that precede each video.

YouTube Music Key videos are ad-free. Music Key is a feature of YouTube that is integrated with the Google Play Music App. When listening to Google Play Music, users can click to instantly watch the video of the song while never leaving the Music app. Songs with YouTube music videos have a red Play arrow next to the “now playing” controls and in the main window of the song that is currently playing. Tapping the play arrow starts the music video immediately in the Google Play Music window.

While the Music Key videos can play in the Google Play Music app, there are added benefits to watching the videos in the YouTube app. Unlike other YouTube videos, Music Key videos will continue to play audio in the background as the user opens other apps and navigates around their tablet or smartphone. From the YouTube app, the ad-free videos can be downloaded to devices to play offline.

In the beta phase of YouTube Music Key, the updated apps are only available for Android mobile devices running Android version 4.0 and above. The updated apps in beta are available by invitation only and invitations can’t be shared. Clearly, Google wanted the users to be Google Play Music subscribers that have Android devices. I fit the bill and received an invitation.

The Music Key and Google Play Music integration is a quick back-and-forth between apps. Once I joined the beta, the ability to watch videos in Google Play Music appeared. Not every song has a corresponding video. I thought new songs would have a better chance of offering a video, so I opted for a new music Pop playlist.

While listening to Google Play on my Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablet, it was just as easy to have the video playing as it was to listen to the music without the video. It was fun to see new videos that I would not have otherwise sought out on YouTube. The gear icon at the bottom of the screen brought up a control to change the quality of the video—Auto, 144p, 240p, 360p or 720p (no 1080p yet)—and a link to open the video in the YouTube app.

Once the YouTube app was opened the video started playing from the beginning rather than resuming play from the play point in the Music app. The YouTube app offered a quick button to tap and download the current video. As promised, I could listen to the music in the background when I navigated away from the app to look at pictures or when the Tab was in the lock screen.

My favorite Google Play Music app feature has been the ability to rearrange the order of upcoming music or delete a song I don’t want to hear. If I like the customized list, I can save the queue as my own playlist. It still works. The videos are available in my library connected to the corresponding songs.

As one would expect, there are few music videos for classic rock and other oldies. It was easiest to find older videos in the music section of the YouTube app than to wait for a video to be available in a oldies playlist.

If the six-month beta period started when I first heard of YouTube Music Key in November or December, it should be launching the full app soon. There have been no recent announcements. If you have a subscription to Google Play Music, go to the YouTube Music Key web page. Be sure you are signed into your Google account and you may see a “join now” button to join the beta.

zthomas's picture

I tried google play a while back.. the price is to high for what your get.. maybe I am to use to Pandora which is just five bucks a month.. I got a email from pandora that I listen to over two thousand songs last month.. no adds at all. Boy did google play whine and cry when I didn't renew. You gotta be careful when using credit cards.. sites just love pulling from your accounts without getting permission for the next month.. I had blocked google from doing so.. boy did they hound me..