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YouTube’s alternative to Spotify has entered beta

YouTube’s Music Key paid, on-demand music service is finally out, and potentially, it could become the greatest music subscription service ever. But it ain’t there yet. YouTube, with a limited invite-only beta test of the service, offers consumers the chance to view and listen to its vast library of music holdings, ad-free with two other huge advantages over free YouTube: You can play the music in the background of your smartphone and songs can be downloaded for offline access.

Last week, YouTube announced its new streaming music service, which is finally rolling out in beta form. It comes complete with out-of-app background listening, cacheable videos, ad-free music, and a 6 month free trial. It turns YouTube into a great little music player. I just tried it out and so far, so good. To see if you’ve got access to the beta, just go boot up the YouTube app you already have. If it’s there, it’ll walk you through the specifics of Music Key in great detail, twice. Once you join up for a six month(!) trial by attaching some sort of payment method, you’re good to go. No new app to download or find your way around. The barrier to entry here is basically nil. The first, and I think best, feature works completely in the background. Just start a video and close out the app and it keeps playing, generating a little music-control widget in the app drawer on Android, regardless of whether you’re listening to actual music, or just a video (I got an episode of Angry Video Game Nerd and some Slingshot Channel videos to work as well.) There’s also a little download button if you wanna cache your videos to watch them later.

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