Streamus Turns Chrome Into A Fast, Free, YouTube-Powered Spotify Alternative

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Use Chrome? Listen to a lot music throughout the day? Check out this extension.

Take a music streaming service like Rdio or Spotify, and boil it down to the absolute basics — searching for songs, adding songs to playlists, and playing said songs. Power it with YouTube’s massive (and sometimes questionably legal) music library. Keep it super fast, and super simple.

That’s Streamus. Streamus is a Chrome extension that has been quietly in development for the past few months, but has just recently started climbing up the charts.

Streamus lets you search for a song and start playing it in all of about 3 seconds. There’s no tab to switch to, and no app to open. Here’s what it looks like:

Streamus Anim

You just type “Streamus” into Chrome’s Omnibar (read: the fancy name for Chrome’s all-in-one address bar/search box), hit tab (or space), then type the name of the song you’re looking for. Streamus almost instantly returns a dropdown with the YouTube results — just click one, and the audio starts playing immediately in the background, all without taking you away from your current page..

Want more than a one off song? Want to build a big ol’ playlist of tunes to get you through the day? Streamus will do that too. It adds a little button to the navigation area of Chrome, and clicking it opens up a dropdown menu that looks like this:

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From there, you’re able to add songs to playlists, save playlists for later listening, or enable a “Radio” mode that tries to find tracks you’ll dig based on the artists you’ve picked so far. There are very few frills, and that’s the way it’s meant to be. There’s no cheesy social networking elements, no “Popular Artists” metrics. You pick songs, it plays songs.

Plus, the developer of the extension seems like a pretty cool guy. He’s been documenting each new build on a little sub-reddit for months now, allowing his users to ask questions about each release — and for that matter, allowing for him to ask questions (like ‘Is bug x effecting you?’) of his users.

Of course, being that it’s totally free and still in an early Beta stage, it’s not without its faults. As it’s all pulled from YouTube’s (largely user-uploaded) music collection, there’s a fair amount of cruft. While I find that the top result is usually the song I’m looking for, that’s not always the case. Some songs are mislabeled. Some are just iffy quality. Sometimes you get a wonky live version of a song that someone recorded on their phone while, judging by the quality, said phone was seemingly placed inside of a jar of jam. But it’s fast, it’s free, and it’s a damned nice way to quickly play that song you’ve had stuck in your head all day.

It’ll be interesting to see how YouTube responds to this if it gets even kind of huge. Streamus only plays the audio from a video, and there’s little-to-no sign that this stuff is being fetched from YouTube once you’ve got the extension installed — so it’s easy to imagine that YouTube might get a bit miffed.

You can find the extension in the Chrome Web Store here.