Google announced its intention to sunset Play Music and prioritize YouTube Music some time ago, and the end is here. The former service stopped working in October, but if you subscribed to Play Music in the past and haven't yet transferred out your data, you should do so now. 9to5Google anticipates the export option will go dark shortly after today, December 31.
The process to export songs, playlists, and other data is straightforward. When you visit music.google.com you'll see an option to transfer your data to YouTube Music. If you don't want to use that service you can download MP3s of your music uploads and purchases, and CSV files with playlist information.
Google has previously said that exports would only be available through December 2020.
Strategy — By unifying behind the YouTube brand, Google has a better chance of competing against rivals. The whole "Play Music" branding was confusing, whereas YouTube is already synonymous with music. Despite the rise of subscription music streaming, YouTube's free platform remains the largest place where people go to hear music. More than two billion logged-in users play music on the ad-supported version of YouTube each month, and that presents an opportunity to upsell premium subscriptions.
Prior to launching YouTube Music, millions of people already paid for YouTube Premium, which eliminates advertisements from videos across the site. It started at $9.99 per month but now costs $11.99 and includes YouTube Music. Subscribers can also just pay $9.99 per month to get YouTube Music by itself, which includes both desktop and mobile experiences.
The free streaming model is a lucrative business for YouTube. Record labels have never been happy about the small payouts they get from advertisements, however. The per-play revenue they can get from subscriptions is higher. It'll likely only get a small percentage of visitors to pay up, but by at least upselling them on subscribing, Google may find a compromise with the industry to keep music on the free side of the platform.
YouTube Music vs the world — YouTube Music is estimated to hold about six percent of the streaming market, up from four percent in 2019. Another service, Amazon Music Unlimited, has grown to 15 percent in part thanks to Amazon Prime and the popularity of the company's smart speakers.
Google in its most recent quarter said it has 35 million subscribers paying for YouTube Premium and Music.