In brief: Google is looking to replace Google Play Music with YouTube Music, which will come bundled with new Android devices. There are currently over 2 billion monthly YouTube users, and the company wants to convert as many of them as it can into paying subscribers.
As part of their licensing agreement with Google, many Android phone makers are required to preinstall a number of first-party apps. Now they'll have to bundle YouTube Music with every new Android 10 device. This will also apply to new smartphones that will ship with Android 9, as well as Google's Pixel series.
There are two key reasons for the move. The first involves the need to replace Google Play Music, which has been the default music app on Android for years. It's worth noting that Google isn't pulling the plug just yet, as YouTube Music isn't quite there for many people who wish to migrate their libraries over to the new service.
The bigger reason is that Google has been having a hard time penetrating the already crowded music streaming market. Apple and Spotify dominate the space with 60 and 108 million paying subscribers, respectively. Many of you are likely familiar with Google's aggressive campaign for YouTube Music that promotes the benefits of subscribing, but that hasn't brought that many users on board.
A Bloomberg report puts YouTube Music at a little over 15 million subscribers, if you also count Play Music – since being subscribed to one means you also have access to the other. Google wants to capitalize on 2 billion people that use YouTube every month, but also doesn't have any standout features – it even copied the Discover Weekly feature from Spotify.
Still, the company is determined to take a page from Apple's book and preload Android smartphones with YouTube Music in the hope that it will emulate the success of Apple Music. Google tried something similar in 2017 when it partnered with Samsung to preload Play Music on Galaxy smartphones and tablets. Whether or not it can achieve better results with YouTube Music, only time will tell.