I was lucky enough to get into Google Music early, by invitation. I have used it ever since, with a 1-month hiatus around 2014 to determine that Rdio was the best streaming service available (lol). In reality, the only option at the time for people with iPod-filling-sized music collections was Google Music. You could probably run a Subsonic server or something, but that stuff was for nerds. This was one of the largest companies in the world, offering a consumer solution for a consumer problem.
This was all before the wide realization of Google’s penchant for killing its offerings that people actually liked. But this one has obviously been much harder – they’ve started trying to kill their original music service over 2 years ago with no luck.
Youtube (in terms of branding) is already a step down. It has its own trouble with extremism, etc. Also, streaming music on Youtube always seemed like an anachronism to me – your medium is wrong, you are using unnecessary bandwidth, also you aren’t cool enough to have amassed your own collection. Can’t beat (ad-supported) free, I guess.
Grandfathering into the early adopter’s rate has saved me roughly $160 so far, over Spotify and others. May not be enough monetarily to justify staying, but it is enough to say I got in before it was cool. And to people who curate music collections, that is worth more lol.
The wrench in all this is I got a 3 month trial to Tidal, and it is going pretty well so far. It apparently can be combined with Plex, which may be getting back to that holy grail of mine + theirs. Will have a decision to make soon.