What you need to know about YouTube Premium

This is about as confusing as any Google lineup can get, but we'll do our best to explain it anyway.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
2 min read
Jason Cipriani/CNET

Recently, Google launched YouTube Music and YouTube Premium. One of those is a streaming music service that offers features similar to what you'd expect in Google Play Music. The other is a streaming music service, with the added bonus of an ad-free YouTube experience. 

Watch this: Google replaces YouTube Red with YouTube Premium

But here's the deal: Google has too many names for too many services, making all of this very confusing. We do our best to break it down for you.

YouTube Music

Think of YouTube Music as a competitor to Spotify or Apple Music . Users can sign up, stream music, or watch music videos on YouTube, all within the app. There are two different two different plans. A free, ad-supported plan, and a $9.99 (AU$11.99, £9.99) plan for those who want background playback, and the ability to download music without ads.

There's an app for iOS and Android users, as well as a dedicated website for desktop listening. 

YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium

Remember YouTube Red? It's no more. The ad-free YouTube service is now called YouTube Premium.

So what is YouTube Premium?

YouTube Premium includes everything included in a YouTube Music subscription -- ad-free streaming, downloadable content, background playback, etc. -- and an ad-free YouTube experience and access to YouTube Original content. You also gain the ability to download YouTube videos for offline viewing.

YouTube Premium is priced a little higher than YouTube Music, costing $11.99 (AU$14.99, £11.99) per month.

What about Google Play Music?

It's included! If you sign up for YouTube Music or YouTube Premium, you also have access to Google Play Music's full capabilities. Unfortunately, your music library and playlists remain separate in the two services. Hopefully, Google is working toward merging the two and we'll be able to move forward with one solution.