TIME Music

Here Are 4 Things We Want in YouTube’s New Music Streaming Service

Google Holds Event For Creators At YouTube Tokyo Space
Google Inc.'s YouTube logo is displayed on a wall as video creators participate in a workshop as part of the YouTube Partner Program at the company's YouTube Space studio in Tokyo, Japan, on Saturday, March 30, 2013. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

It seems that YouTube’s oft-delayed subscription music streaming service may soon see the light of day. The service was slated to launch by the end of the summer, the Financial Times reported in June, and Android Police recently leaked images purported to be from the new platform, which it said is currently called YouTube Music Key. The streaming service was originally expected to launch late last year, but has faced roadblocks involving royalty negotiations with independent labels, among other snags.

So far, Google has been tight-lipped about exactly what features will differentiate vanilla YouTube, this new paid service (expected to cost $9.99 per month) and Google’s other music subscription service, Google Play Music All Access. All we know for sure is that, as with most other streaming services, the paid version of YouTube will be stripped of ads. If the new service takes advantage of the reasons people already love YouTube, though, it could outshine current streaming heavyweights like Spotify and Beats Music.

Here’s what we’d like to see from YouTube’s foray into paid streaming:

Access to Covers, Remixes and Mixtapes

YouTube’s biggest advantage over other music-listening platforms is its sheer size. People upload 100 hours worth of content to the website each minute, and the vast majority of its most popular videos relate to music. YouTube Music Key is expected to take advantage of this scale by pulling in covers, remixes, parodies and unofficial singles and mixtapes to complement the record label-approved content that populates other streaming services. That means an up-and-coming artist like Chance the Rapper, who has released two acclaimed independent mixtapes you can’t access on Spotify, could be easier to discover on YouTube’s new service.

Quality Playlists

Playlists are a given function of any streaming service, but they can vary widely in quality. YouTube already has a playlist function called YouTube Mix, which automatically generates a playlist to follow any popular video based on what other users clicked after watching it. That’s a nice start, but we’d also like to see lists picked by experts, like with Beats, or organized around specific times of day or activities, like with Songza.

A Strong Social Component

One of the highlights of Spotify is its integration with Facebook, which allows users to track their friends’ listening habits and build collaborative playlists with them. Google, with its wide array of services that are linked by universal company accounts, has a similar ability to connect friends seamlessly.

Tight Integration with Google’s Other Music Services

YouTube Music Key will actually be Google’s third subscription music service, following in the footsteps of Google Play Music All Access and the recently-acquired Songza. It’s still not clear why Google needs three of these things, but they might as well let users to enjoy the benefits of all of them under a single subscription. In particular, Play Music All Access’s uploading feature, which allows people to save songs from their personal libraries in the cloud and then access them from any device, would be a killer way to make the YouTube music service catalogue essentially limitless.

TIME apps

The Top 25 Smartphone Apps, Revealed

Digital analytics firm comScore recently released a list of the top 25 mobile apps in the United States, each based on the number of unique users over a one-month period this June. Did your favorites make the list?

According to the report, the top app in the United States is Facebook by far – 115.4 million people over the age of 18 used the social networking app in June. YouTube comes in second with 83.4 million unique users, followed by Google Play, Google Search and streaming music app Pandora. The full top 25 list is as follows:

1. Facebook (115.4 million)

Check out Comprehensive Guide to Facebook Privacy Settings as well as the 5 Biggest Facebook Mistakes and How to Fix Them.

2. YouTube (83.4 million)

Find out How to Discover What’s Hot on YouTube, 6 Great YouTube Channels for the Latest News, 8 World-Class College Courses Free on YouTube, and more about YouTube’s new music subscription service.

3. Google Play (72.2 million)

This is the Android app store that comes preinstalled on every Android phone.

4. Google Search (70.2 million)

Get the most out of search with 11 Google Search Tips Everyone Should Know and How to Use Your Smartphone Camera to Search.

5. Pandora (69 million)

While Pandora is the most popular music stream app, there are many others with different features you should consider.

6. Google Maps (64.5 million)

The indisputable king of online mapping apps, Google Maps is constantly being updated. Just in this year, it added functionality that allows you to save maps for offline use, hail an Uber ride and measure aerial distances..

7. Gmail (60.3 million)

If you check your smartphone all the time for important emails, check out How To Never Miss an Important Email as well as 5 Tips for Getting More out of Gmail.

8. Instagram (46.6 million)

This image sharing app has the bells and whistles that keeps social photographers clicking away. Now you can even post video.

9. Apple Maps (42.1 million)

This comes standard on iPhones now, but is still far inferior to Google Maps.

10. Yahoo Stocks (42.1 million)

Again, standard on many phones.

11. iTunes Radio/iCloud (40.5 million)

Standard.

12. Facebook Messenger (39.2 million)

This one is now required to use Facebook chat, but on the upside, you can make free voice calls with it.

13. Yahoo Weather Widget (36.1 million)

Standard app for many Android phones. Consider these top-rated competitors.

14. Twitter (34.7 million)

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced user, you can’t be a part of today’s social media scene without Twitter.

15. The Weather Channel (30 million)

See #13.

16. Google+ (28.8 million)

Google’s attempt at a social media service hasn’t done very well, but it still comes standard on many phones.

17. Netflix (27.6 million)

Great for streaming a full season of Orange Is the New Black, but be careful only to watch when connected to Wi-Fi otherwise you’ll eat through your data plan in no time.

18. Snapchat (26.5 million)

This photo sharing app that destroys the image shortly after sending has become an enormous hit among teens.

19. Amazon Mobile (26.5 million)

Many people don’t know the best feature of this app: You can order a product simply by taking a snapshot of it with your phone.

20. Pinterest (24.6 million)

This moodboarding service is a great way to find inspiration, recipes and more.

21. eBay (22.2 million)

While eBay is a great way to unload your used goods, remember to change your password.

22. Skype (18.8 million)

The popular video chat service is always improving. Group video calls are now free and real-time speech translation is coming by the end of the year. It’s also a great way to get free messaging.

23. Shazam (18.4 million)

A popular music recognition service. Check out #5 for listening and discovery options.

24. Yahoo Mail (17.6 million)

Standard for many phones; #7 has more resources for you.

25. Kik Messenger (17.2 million)

A popular messaging app that younger users have flocked to.

As you can see, there are a large number of Google apps on the list, thanks in part to so many of them being built in to Android phones by default. Social networking is big, too – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ all make the list.

Obviously, because the above list is constructed based on user numbers, there are a ton of great apps worth downloading that aren’t in the top 25. You can take a look at picks for the best mobile apps by checking out Techlicious’ top 10 free Android apps and top 10 free iPhone apps.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Companies

Amazon to Buy Video Game Live-Streaming Site Twitch for $970 Million

Google had been widely expected to acquire Twitch before today's announcement

Amazon has agreed to buy video game live-streaming website Twitch for $970 million, the companies announced Monday.

Twitch has become a popular online destination for video game players, who use the website to stream live gameplay of titles across a variety of consoles and formats. More than 55 million unique visitors viewed content generated by more than 1 million broadcasters on the site in July 2014.

It had been widely reported that Google was in talks to buy Twitch for about $1 billion, until Amazon’s surprise announcement. “We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster,” said Twitch CEO Emmett Shear in a statement. Twitch will continue to operate as an independent brand from Amazon, he said.

The acquisition is the latest sign that Amazon is serious about becoming a big player in the worlds of both gaming and online video. The retail giant snapped up the video game developer Double Helix Games earlier this year, and the company’s new set-top box, the Amazon Fire TV, boasts a bevy of Android-based games and a traditional video game controller as a main selling point.

“Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

More important than gaming though will be the foothold Twitch grants Amazon in the world of online video. As a rapidly growing video site that has generated more web traffic than Facebook and Hulu in past months, Twitch will give Amazon greater scale to compete for ad dollars with the Google-owned YouTube, the world’s biggest online video destination by far. Amazon has already been experimenting with pre-roll ads for episodes of some of its original shows. Now the company will have access to millions of additional video watchers between the ages of 18 to 34, a highly coveted demographic on Madison Avenue. “This is really interesting addition and a way to bring Amazon’s brand to that community in a way that they really haven’t been able to before,” says Brian Blau, research director at Gartner.

For Twitch, the purchase is proof that courting a niche demographic can pay off. Twitch began in 2011 as an offshoot of Justin.tv, a more broadly focused live-streaming platform. Shear and his colleagues realized that people were using Justin.tv to livestream gameplay of hits like StarCraft 2. “Watching and sharing in that experience is as much a part of video games as playing is,” Shear told TIME earlier this year. He was proven right—Twitch is now one of the biggest sites on the Web and Justin.tv shut down earlier this month.

But Twitch’s ambitions likely extend beyond gaming. This summer the company began experimenting with live streams of music concerts. Amazon’s long-term aim, Blau says, could be to develop Twitch into a “live version of YouTube.” Such an evolution, though, would require buy-in from Twitch’s fickle user base of passionate gamers.

TIME Google

YouTube Videos Playing Automatically? Sit Tight

Well, that's annoying.

All the livelong day, YouTube videos have been autoplaying in my web browser (I’m using Google Chrome). I just opened 19 tabs at once, and my computer basically threatened to walk off the job. My other browsers aren’t affected, so this appears to be a Chrome-YouTube joint.

A fix is coming. It’s apparently a problem on YouTube’s end, and the team is aware of it. Check out this Google thread for updates.

[Android Police]

MONEY Google

‘Google for Kids’ Is Coming

Child using Google on iPad2
Alex Segre—Alamy

Reports indicate Google is planning to roll out a suite of services specifically targeting young users.

Google is working on versions of its services, such as YouTube and Gmail, that are specifically outfitted for children.

Currently, Google services are technically only meant for persons over the age of 13 years. Users attempting to create a new Google account are asked to enter their birthday, in addition to other information like username and password. Those under the age limit are directed to a page explaining Google’s policy and linking to the Federal Trade Commission’s web page on child privacy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google’s new child-approved services will allow parents to control how their children interact with Google’s products and what information the search giant collects from their child’s activity. The Information previously reported that a version of YouTube featuring beefed up parental controls was in development.

Google currently limits its services to an older age group because the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires parental consent before a child’s data can be collected, and restricts how that data can be used and stored. While web sites are not liable if underage users lie about their age, a person familiar with Google’s plans told the Journal that demand from parents who want to create accounts for their children and a desire to remain in compliance with COPPA spurred the company to act.

Another reason for kid-centric services could be a desire by Google to break into the lucrative education market. The company’s Chromebooks are low-cost laptops that might be attractive to schools, but the products are entirely based around Google services. A child-suite of Google apps might make Chromebooks a viable alternative to the iPad among educators interested in introducing technology into the classroom.

Some privacy advocates are not particularly thrilled by the prospect of more children making Google accounts. Jeff Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy, told the Journal the new services could threaten the privacy of millions of children, and that his organization had already shared its concerns with the Federal Trade Commission.

TIME Television

Snooki Who?: The Cool, Edgy, Other MTV You Didn’t Know Existed

Everett

MTV may have stopped airing arty, odd shows on TV a decade ago — but the network's original spirit lives on, online

This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

Tucked away underneath an elevated subway line in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, two frat boys named Josh are making butt jokes behind an unmarked steel door. The pair of horny bros with facial hair of dubious origin leans over the blueprint of a yoga studio, plotting how to situate their mats so they’ll be best able to attract women. One Josh points to the map with a Green Apple Dum-Dum sucker; other Josh leans in, eyes wide, and deadpans, “Tell me about these feet rugs!” Moments later, a Josh starts singing the chorus to “Old Man River,” which morphs into a Katy Perry mashup: “Old man river, you’re gonna hear me rooaaaaar.”

Josh and Josh’s entourage — the camera people, the director, the dude holding the boom mic — erupts in laughter. The Joshes are the alter egos of Kate Riley and Fran Gillespie, Upright Citizen’s Brigade regulars who have co-created a short series called, cannily, Two Guys Named Josh. The makeshift soundstage is an apartment near the Hewes Avenue JMZ stop, rented from some arty loft type whose painted brick walls are just rundown enough to be believable as the abode for two best friends whose main goals are boozing, broing and snagging babes. The confluence of UCB and YouTube has been so instrumental in propelling young comedians from the Internet to television or film fame — from Aubrey Plaza and the Lonely Island to Drunk History and Broad City — everybody knows online comedy is the way to score. But the difference is this time, MTV is footing the bill.

MORE: MTV VMAs: The Wildest Moments Ever, Ranked

For 15 years, MTV has been both reviled and applauded for its shift from emphasizing videos and music programs to reality-television shows that some deem exploitative. The annual Video Music Awards still remain a marquee event, but the airing of actual videos has been shoved off onto tentacle, extended-cable choices like MTV Jams and MTV Hits in favor of wildly popular shows like Catfish and 16 and Pregnant. Videos are much lamented, but that wasn’t all MTV cast off in favor of The Hills and Jersey Shore. Viewers also lost creative programming like Liquid Television, the block of animated series in the Nineties that led to successful, groundbreaking shows like Daria and Aeon Flux. (Full disclosure: I have written for Viacom/MTV, but never for the subcompany MTV Other.)

MTV Other was conceived in spring 2013 and launched that summer as a “laboratory for original video content,” according to Garth Bardsley, VP of Original Video for MTV’s Connected Content Group, who had stopped by to check in on the taping of Two Guys Named Josh, now in its second season. “The legacy of MTV was that back in the day, it was a home for creative people to have an outlet, right? It still is,” explains Bardsley. “But if you’re going to put something on TV, you’ve got to typically have an agent who’s going to call an executive. He’s going to get you a meeting. And you’re going to have a lot more meetings. And you’re going to talk through it all. And there’s going to be scripts and yadda yadda. We do some of that, but we’re also just looking across the web for content creators, and we’re able to turn projects around more quickly.”

MORE: 8 TV Shows You Should Be Watching Right Now

MTV Other’s tagline is “short shows, random weirdness,” and it acts as a hub for a resurrected Liquid TV, though roughly half of Other’s shows are live-action comedies and talk shows. Bardsley cites programs like the burger-joint comedy Fast Food Heights, created by Bridesmaids actor Greg Tuculescu, and a sketch called Teacher’s Lounge written by Morgan Evans, who also directs Two Guys, as the type of programming Other leans towards. “We want to find our own version of hits,” he says, sitting on a loveseat on the makeshift set. “A hit for us would be much smaller than what TV needs. But we want to keep looking for hits. Who’s going to break out and people want to see more of? And we want to have more creative people in the building who are feeding into higher things.” MTV Other bookends web oddballs with more established comedians (Eric Andre; Murray Hill) in conversation with musicians like the Beastie Boys and Har Mar Superstar. They even do service journalism, showcasing scenes in cities across America and weed-food tips.

In a sense, Other is a bit of MTV magic: If YouTube and Vimeo act as incubators for networks like Comedy Central, Other is MTV’s own in-house farm team, a place to groom talent and test out shows until they prove themselves. Or in the event that the reality-show template ever topples, MTV will have ready-made content to replace it, already tested on the Internet. Of course, that’s not Bardsley’s expressed goal (which is adamantly about developing creativity), but it’s a savvy move for a goliath in a climate that increasingly rewards shows and ideas that are agile. There’s certainly enough network crossover: Other has developed animated spin-offs narrated by popular MTV2 hosts Matt Pinfield and Charlemagne the God. But Bardsley insists the creativity comes first. “It’s not like we’re setting out to do a legacy play at all,” he says. “It’s just that there’s a history of doing this at MTV, which is kind of nice. We still basically want to play around and find audiences outside of television. I think if you look there, you will see things that are perhaps on the weird side.”

MORE: 12 TV Shows That Came Back from the Dead

Weird, in fact, is a good word for this shoot of Two Guys Named Josh. Stars Riley and Gillespie both have ample improv experience, so they keep repeating scenes with different lines, each odder, if not funnier, than the last. Their show is wildly hilarious — they portray their frat-dude Joshes quite literally (props include red dixie cups and bikini posters), but there is a tenderness to the characters that could attract both the bros they’re spoofing and the feminists who love to roll their eyes at them. (A high point in Season One, says Riley, was when they were written up by the websites Bro Bible and Jezebel in the same day.) Still in costume in popped-collar Polos, khakis and ridiculous facial hair, Riley describes the duo as a sort of Pinky & the Brain. The duo mines their family and friends’ experiences for inspiration. “I was home for Christmas,” explains Riley, “and I would be like, ‘I’m naming characters! Someone yell out something they call a frat brother!’ And [my brothers] were like, ‘Pootsie! Bowels! Shoes! Chicken Parm! Young Tit! Bozo!’ just all these names. Chicken Parm. You know why? All he ate was chicken parm. Real guy.”

Riley and Gillespie are clearly real talents — even the intro credits, featuring Josh and Josh gesticulating wildly at a curvaceous woman while a ridiculous dubstep beat plays, are a riot — which may be why in their case, MTV Other pursued them, rather than the other way around, through Riley’s agent. The developers, producers and Bardsley are often on-set during filming. “Sometimes when people from a network are there, you kind of feel your butt tighten,” says Gillespie, “but not with these people. And that’s great, because when we’re improvising, you can’t be in a headspace where you’re like, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this.'”

The duo also says it has control over the editing room, with the network censoring only when offensive terms — or brand names — make it to the mix. “This is for the web, so the production value is incredible, that we get to play with [this type of equipment] — it’s like Candyland for the creative department,” Gillespie says. Referring to the scene on set, she adds, “When you’re doing TV, it’s twice as many people and everyone’s staring at you!”

If the great MTV Other experiment finds its groove, there’ll be a whole lot more eyeballs on them soon.

MORE: TV’s Most Heart-stopping Moments

 

TIME movies

Go Behind the Scenes of Wong Fu’s First Feature Film

An inside look at the popular YouTube team's foray into a more traditional format: feature film

+ READ ARTICLE

When I arrive on the set of Wong Fu Productions’ first feature film in Pasadena, CA, they’re in the middle of shooting one of the most emotional scenes in the movie.

Everyone, from the production crew to the hair and makeup artists, is speaking in hushed tones — even though the action is taking place in a separate room.

That’s because we’re actually shooting in the Wong Fu Productions office, where a corner of the space (which, on a normal day, looks like a typical workspace with desks and computers) has been transformed into a mock college dorm room, complete with actual walls, a microwave, a bed, and other furnishings. The door to the room has been propped open to leave room for the camera, and also to prevent the set from becoming too hot.

“The way we do things is pretty unconventional,” says Philip Wang, who cofounded Wong Fu with college friends Wesley Chan and Ted Fu. “I like to say it’s resourceful.”

For Wong Fu, which got its start in 2003 and quickly gained a strong following with the growing popularity of its YouTube channel (which now has over 2 million subscribers), a long day of shooting is nothing new. What’s different this time around is the length of time spent on one particular project.

“Now, we just kind of have this mentality of like, ‘Hey, it’s just like we’re just making 20 shorts, all in a row,'” Wang says. “We do that anyways throughout a year. Now it’s just condensing it all into one.”

Wong Fu is in a unique position as an independent production company for a few reasons: The trio had already begun to make popular videos before YouTube came along — videos were passed around through download links on their website and fans’ instant messenger profiles — and were able to take advantage of the viral potential afforded them by the new platform. Notably, they also feature a primarily Asian-American cast in their shorts; they attribute much of their success to a largely Asian-American viewership eager to see themselves represented in the media. Wong Fu produces character-based short films, which Wang believes is distinct from the typical viral videos that attract views through shock value or cuteness.

In March, Wong Fu raised $358,308 on Indiegogo for their movie, making their project currently the fourth-best funded film on the crowd-funding website.

The film’s plot focuses on two couples at different stages of their relationships, set in a world where “all relationship activity is documented and monitored by the Department of Emotional Integrity (DEI)” and is assigned a number like a credit score.

The young couple featured in the video above is played by Victoria Park and Brandon Soo Hoo. (The rest of the principal cast includes a mix of familiar names and new faces: Randall Park, Ki Hong Lee, Chris Riedell, Aaron Yoo, Joanna Sotomura and Brittany Ishibashi.)

The scene I witness is a tense moment because, for the first time in their relationship, the two have to learn to deal with the challenges of a long distance relationship.

“No one was wrong in that argument,” says Chan, who co-directed the movie with Wang. “We want you to side with both of the characters. That’s one of the real life, relatable elements we wanted to include — that a lot of times, when we argue, there’s no right or wrong.”

Shooting officially wrapped last week, and the movie will be in post-production for the next three to four months. What happens from there isn’t set in stone yet, but Wong Fu plans to submit the film to various festivals as they work out the details of a release plan.

In the meantime, it’s also worth keeping an eye out for a possible upcoming engagement video — according to the movie’s Indiegogo page, one lucky donor claimed a Wong Fu wedding video package for $8,000.

TIME Internet

These Are the 10 Most Popular Music Videos on YouTube

PSY pretty much blows everyone else out of the water

You know which music videos you like to watch incessantly — but what about the rest of the world? YouTube has put together a playlist compiling its 10 most-viewed music videos ever to pay homage to the artists racking up the heftiest numbers of streams.

Here are the winners, along with the amount of views provided by YouTube. Of course, those stats are likely to continue climbing.

1. PSY – Gangnam Style

2,052,142,296 views

2. Justin Bieber ft. Ludacris – Baby

1,060,638,016 views

3. Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull – On The Floor

767,272,725 views

4. Eminem ft. Rihanna – Love The Way You Lie

716,231,316 views

5. LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett, GoonRock – Party Rock Anthem

713,191,153 views

6. Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball

685,767,350 views

7. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance

594,483,912 views

8. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

570,877,802 views

9. Don Omar ft. Lucenzo – Danza Kuduro

575,283,830 views

10. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Wanz – Thrift Shop

554,588,442 views

 

TIME

Old People Swooning Over Elvis Footage Is as Adorable as it Sounds

"Oh, oh, oh, I love you Elvis"

+ READ ARTICLE

The Fine Brothers have gained Internet fame for creating YouTubes of children, teens, and elders reacting to a variety of things. Thursday’s new installment tackled adorable nostalgia. This is how elders react when they see footage of Elvis.

TIME Music

Hear YouTube Superstar Troye Sivan’s Single ‘Happy Little Pill’

EMI Australia

His EP drops Aug. 15 — and pre-orders have already buoyed it to the top of the charts

One of YouTube’s biggest stars may be on his way to becoming the next big pop act.

Troye Sivan, a 19-year-old from Australia, is one of the video blogging community’s most beloved personalities; his YouTube channel has more than 3 million followers and his clips have accumulated 91.4 million views. (No big.) Earlier this summer, Sivan announced he’d signed a deal with EMI Australia and would release an EP, titled TRXYE, on Aug. 15. “Happy Little Pill,” the first single from the five-track set, dropped earlier this week — and it seems primed to move the teen into the big leagues, with melancholy lyrics and a downtempo electronic sound that give off a world-weary vibe.

“I wrote this song during a bit of a rough time for someone super close to me, and for myself, and it still means as much to me as the day i wrote it, and i’m still as in love with it as the day i wrote it,” the singer wrote on his Tumblr, when he shared the song with fans.

Now, the EP is No. 1 on iTunes and has soared to the top of iTunes charts all over the world. Earlier today, the star tweeted that TRXYE had hit No. 1 in 17 countries, while “Happy Little Pill” was at No. 1 in 13 countries. (Again, no big.)

Sivan isn’t new to singing — he was performing on shows like StarSearch in the early 2000s and has created other EPs in the past — but his crazy popularity suggests the teen is ready for the big leagues and testifies to the mounting influence of YouTube celebrities. Given, too, the massive success of his earlier song “The Fault in Our Stars” (inspired by the film), Sivan seems ready for IRL superstardom.

It’s about time — the world could use a replacement for #BieberFever.

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