While Apple Music and Spotify slug it out, YouTube rules the roost when it comes to music discovery among teens. Indeed, YouTube remains the best destination to go to if you want to stream songs for free. The only thing better is if you pair it with the right extensions.
For over a year, I have recommended Streamus for Google Chrome, which was the easiest and coolest way to play music from YouTube. It was simple and neat. The extension sat quietly in Chrome, and all you had to do was click and search to find the song you want. Keep adding songs to the playlist and you’re good to go. Genius.
Unfortunately, despite its 300,000+ users, YouTube shut it down. The company hasn’t done much to offer an alternative either—and no, YouTube Music Key isn’t good enough. Now that Streamus is off the market, let’s take a look at the next best extensions for YouTube Music.
If Streamus didn’t shut down, I probably never would have tried out UpNext. And what a huge mistake that would have been. UpNext is not just the spiritual successor to Streamus, it’s actually better!
It does everything Streamus did: search YouTube within the app, make playlists, shuffle/repeat/scrobble songs, and looks fantastic doing it. UpNext is also faster than Streamus, and remembers your search history. Plus, you can import your Streamus playlists to UpNext! Just export your Streamus playlist to YouTube, then import it to Streamus. This way, you can actually import any YouTube playlist.
UpNext is also more intuitive than Streamus and it’s easier to create and update playlists in this extension. It goes a step further by giving you “Charts” for different genres as well as the current Reddit Top 100 on r/music, which is auto-updated. The community actually has great taste, as we discovered in Reddit’s picks for the best albums of all time.
And to top off this incredible package, UpNext also lets you search on SoundCloud, an underrated service for music lovers. Remember, not every song will be available on YouTube, but chances are you might find it on SoundCloud. Between the two services, I was able to find every song I threw at it, including several non-English tracks.
However, be warned that UpNext has the same issue as Streamus—it doesn’t play the video itself, so there’s no telling when YouTube will try to shut this down too.
The most commonly suggested alternative to current Streamus users, PlayTube is yet another extension that sits in your extensions toolbar and you can control it from there. The only difference? You’ll need to go to YouTube to search and add songs.
PlayTube is definitely not as intuitive and easy as Streamus. When you’re searching for any song on YouTube, you will see a “+Save” button. Click that to add the video to your PlayTube’s “Saved” list.
When you click and open PlayTube, you will find another “+” icon in the top-right corner, which does the same thing as the +Save button. You’ll also see the usual playback controls, a playback slider, a search bar (to search within your saved songs), and three tabs:
- Saved: Any song you add to with that +Save button will come here.
- Playlists: You can create custom playlists. You’ll first need to add a song to your Saved list and then transfer it to your playlist, which can be a pain sometimes.
- Public: PlayTube has a bunch of pre-made playlists of currently trending songs, artist-based recommendations, and so on. It can be a cool way to discover music you haven’t heard.
In general, PlayTube works pretty well, but the search-and-add feature could be far better. Having to quit the extension, go to YouTube and search for songs to add them? That’s a convoluted process.
Not every YouTube extension for Chrome is about better playback. Sometimes, it’s about adding more to the video you are watching. Instead of manually finding song lyrics, how about having the lyrics show up as subtitles, automatically in sync with the video? That’s the whole idea behind Musixmatch.
With a catalogue of over 7 million song lyrics, Musixmatch will show lyrics for most popular songs. Just switch on “Captions” in YouTube’s options menu and Musixmatch will match the video with the lyrics. The lyrics show up timed in sync with the song, which is a nice touch, instead of some sort of pane with the full song lyrics.
That said, Musixmatch doesn’t work for every single song you throw at it. I had trouble matching it up with non-popular classic rock as well as several movie soundtracks. But for any popular song from the last decade or so, it works perfectly.
Firefox Has a Problem!
Unfortunately, none of the aforementioned extensions are available for Mozilla Firefox. The last time I looked at the best YouTube music add-ons, I quite liked FireTube. Unfortunately, it seems that the latest Firefox v40 doesn’t support FireTube because the add-on hasn’t been updated.
Now, we definitely recommend you stay safe and update to Firefox v40 because of a critical security patch which can let malicious hackers steal your local files. Unfortunately, that means we can’t recommend FireTube just yet.
And despite Firefox’s great add-ons list, and the fact that you will soon be able to run Chrome extensions in Firefox, there isn’t currently anything apart from FireTube that deserves a mention. No developer has come up with a decent YouTube music extension for Mozilla’s browser, yet again leaving me trapped in Chrome. Sigh.
YouTube vs. Apple Music vs. Spotify
Which of these three popular music streaming services do you prefer? If you use two or more for different purposes, tell us about how you split that usage.