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YouTube Mix allows Android users to automatically create music playlists

Avril Lavigne is one of several artists who have YouTube Mix playlists available for Android devices.
Avril Lavigne is one of several artists who have YouTube Mix playlists available for Android devices.
Photo by Chung Sung-Jun

On Monday, April 28, Armand Valdes of Mashable reported that Google has made YouTube Mix available to all Android users. The feature, which is already available in the desktop version of YouTube, allows people to enjoy automatically generated lists of videos showcasing their favorite musical artists. Now people in the greater Spokane area can have fun experimenting with the feature on their smart phones and tablets.

According to Valdes, "It's pretty easy to access YouTube Mix. Just type in the name of the artist you want to listen to, and YouTube will automatically generate a playlist.

"Will this new feature stop Spotify from dominating the music streaming business? Probably not, but it's a step closer to what a true YouTube music service might look like."

In a recent article, Ken Yeung of The Next Web gave an overview of how YouTube Mix works. Google has made the feature extremely simple to use. It is somewhat like Spotify with an added visual component, which may be why Valdes alluded to the popular streaming music service.

According to Yeung, "While the video service already has suggested videos displayed in the right-hand sidebar of each page, YouTube Mix offers users the ability to watch 50 videos continuously that it thinks they’ll be interested in. No additional work needed to click through each video one by one to watch it.

"... Each playlist features up to 50 videos, but YouTube says that once all of those videos have been watched, an additional 50 will be shown, showing users more content that they are interested in. Just like a music playlist, users can shuffle videos, place it on repeat, or skip around to specific videos they wish to see."

When using an Android smart phone, browsing through the available videos in a YouTube Mix is extremely simple. Forward and back buttons that appear above the pause/play button provide one easy way to navigate. Or the user can tap on other videos on the list and skip directly to the one he or she wants.

Adrian Farooqui of Ubergizmo has reported that only some of the artists featured on YouTube have Mixes at this time. He suggested that many of the videos currently available are probably drawn from the popular music site Vevo, which may explain why Jay Z has a Mix and the Beastie Boys apparently do not have one yet. Even with that in mind, fans of pretty much any style of music should be able to find something they like. A quick YouTube search conducted on Monday, April 28 revealed Mixes for David Bowie, The Cure, alternative rocker Avril Lavigne, reggae legend Bob Marley, Metallica, country star Blake Shelton, and the highly influential blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The feature is not flawless yet. The YouTube Mix for the guitar player Eric Johnson, for example, should feature several of his videos and some of the many live concert clips that are already available on the site. It might also include some of the many YouTube videos of other guitarists performing his songs. Instead, it includes one excerpt from a 1990 concert, one video of an amateur musician playing Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover" and several unrelated ZZ Top videos.

The audio quality on the videos may vary, much like when watching YouTube clips the more traditional way. This may be an issue for some users, but it shouldn't keep most people from being able to have some fun with the new feature. The Bob Marley videos that are available, for example, all sounded good enough through the speakers of an HTC One to make listening to some of his hits a pleasant experience.

As many people in the greater Spokane area continue to struggle with unemployment or underemployment, having another way to listen to music they enjoy for free on their mobile devices may be just what they need to help them get through their days. If YouTube adds Mixes for more artists, the feature could provide a viable alternative to services such as Pandora or Rhapsody, or paying to upgrade to Spotify Premium. At the very least it could help people in the Spokane community share some of the music they love with friends and family, which has value as well.

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