My day has finally arrived. I finally got the thumbs up to be one of the users that can successfully move my Google Play Music library over to YouTube Music with just one click. You can check here if you want to see if your account is ready for transfer. If you haven’t done so already or are unfamiliar, the massive migration effort has been officially underway for a few months now and many users have been eagerly awaiting their turn to swiftly move all their music from Google’s on-the-way-out music service to the new, much-maligned YouTube Music. Count me in as one of the users who never saw anything wrong with Google Play Music, but also as one who knows that things transition and is mostly on board to give it a real try.
Well, except for one, nagging, silly, and entirely-avoidable pitfall: proper Chromecast support on the web. Yes, I’ve ranted about this before and now that the move to YouTube Music is in full swing, I’m ranting about it again. I’m unsure how a music platform with YouTube in the name can exist without built-in Chromecast support. I’m unsure how those behind the service can look at Chrome users with a straight face. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots, here. Google owns YouTube. YouTube was one of the first Chromecast services. Chromecast support is baked into YouTube on mobile, on the web and basically anywhere it lives. How in the world, then, are we at this stage of the game and YouTube Music still exists without built-in Chromecast support on the web?
And before anyone starts to mention the ability to cast a tab in Chrome, realize that this comes with huge trade-offs over just building in the standard Chromecast API. For one, when casting a tab, all sounds from that tab affect the session. When I get notifications on my Chromebook, for instance, the volume on the cast speaker fluctuates so I can hear them. Casting a tab also stops playback when the device of origin shuts down. Close your Chromebook, close the tab, or log out and your music stops. Then there’s the volume control issues. I can adjust my volume in the YouTube Music player, but that has no affect on the overall speaker volume of the receiving device. If my Google Home is set to 10% volume already, I can crank up YouTube Music to 100% volume from my casted tab and the speaker will just remain quiet.
With the standard Chromecast setup that exists in apps like Google Play Music and Spotify, that is not at all the experience. With those apps, you click the integrated cast button, select the speaker, and the cast session begins. Volume controls are unified, so setting the volume of Google Play Music to 40% sets the casting speaker volume to 40%. Closing the app or laptop won’t stop the cast session since – as a true cast session – the speaker is now in charge of the stream and not reliant on the host device. Furthermore, notifications on my device of origin and other sounds won’t bleed over into the speaker, either. It is the audio casting I have grown to expect over the years and it works very, very well.
And the fact that it already exists in so many places across both Google’s services and 3rd party ones as well makes the exclusion of it for YouTube Music so particularly painful, confusing, and aggravating. I’m on board to realign my behaviors with my music player if I must. I’m fine with hunting around and figuring out new ways to organize my music. I’m even somewhat-OK with the fact that my YouTube history and YouTube Music history will now be an intertwined mess. I can get over those things.
What I can’t get past at this moment is the ridiculous decision to not allow me to cast music properly from the web. The YouTube Music app on the web is actually really great and well-built. The interface is nice, I like the look, and I love that it installs as a proper PWA. With all that in mind, there is no explanation whatsoever that can fix the lack of a feature that I use every single day. There’s no excuse and there’s nothing left to do but fix it. Can they? Absolutely. Will they? At this point, I just don’t know. And each day that passes, I’m closer and closer to switching over to Spotify and just moving on. Sigh.
BTW, if you picked up on my reference in the title, we should be friends.