YouTube Music is now free with ads on Google Home devices

Following reports that Amazon is preparing to launch a free, streaming music service for Echo owners, Google today announced YouTube Music will be free on its Google Home smart speakers and other Google Assistant-powered speakers — like those from JBL, Panasonic, Sony and others. The free service will be ad-supported and available in select markets, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, parts of Europe and elsewhere.

The move appears to be a preemptive strike in light of Amazon’s plans. Bloomberg had reported last week that Amazon would soon launch a free streaming service and Spotify competitor to better cater to its Echo device owners.

Starting today, Google Home speaker owners or those with other Assistant-powered devices can enable the free, ad-supported music service by visiting the Account Settings section of the Google Home app, then tapping Services, Music and selecting “YouTube Music” as their default.

Users can then say “Hey, Google,” and ask for music for any mood or moment, the company explains. For example, you could ask for workout music or music for a dinner party, or you could ask for a certain genre. But the free version of the service won’t allow you to request particular songs, albums, artists or playlists for on-demand streaming — you’ll have to upgrade to YouTube Music Premium for that.

The $9.99/month on-demand Premium offering also includes support for unlimited skips, song replay and offline listening when you’re on a mobile device, in addition to removing the ads.

The free, ad-supported music service is live on smart speakers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Japan, Netherlands and Austria. YouTube says more countries will be available soon.