How to Create Collaborative Music Playlists on YouTube Your Friends Can Add Tracks to Smartphones :: Gadget Hacks


As Google Play Music fans mourn its passing, its replacement, YouTube Music, is gaining some cool features that its predecessor never had.

On the heels of AI-based suggestions for creating playlists, YouTube Music users can now recruit friends to contribute to playlists.

Are you ready to socialize with your YouTube Music playlists? If so, read on. (If not, keep reading to be ready when you’re ready.)

Step 1: Update YouTube Music

This feature is a server-side addition, but it may rely on a minimum version of the application. Also, it’s just good practice to update your apps if you want to experience what’s new.

So check your appropriate app repository to see if an update is available for YouTube Music. Once the update is complete, open the app.

  • Install YouTube Music: Android (Free) | iOS (free)

Step 2: Find a playlist

The application will open at House default tab. Maybe you have a recent playlist in mind from your favorites that you can choose from. If not, press the Library then the “Playlists” category. It just has to be a playlist you created, not a curated or auto-generated mix from YouTube Music.

On the Playlists page, scroll down until you find one you want to invite friends to contribute to. Alternatively, you can search for a specific list.

If you want to start with a new playlist, you’ll need to give it a name and save it first, then continue. It’s a bit odd that the collaborate option isn’t available when starting a new playlist, so I’m expecting that to change sooner rather than later.

Step 3: Edit Playlist

Once you locate or start a playlist for collaboration, enter edit mode. This can be done by tapping on the three dots to the right of the list and then selecting “Edit Playlist” or by touching the title of the playlist and swiping over the pencil icon.

Once you’re on the edit view, you’ll see the “Collaborate” option above the song list. If the playlist is private, this option will be disabled, so select “Public” or “Unlisted” from the Privacy drop-down menu, then tap “Collaborate” to continue.

Step 4: Share the playlist

On the Collaborate screen, you will find a toggle button to enable collaboration with songs and videos in the playlist. Press it to activate the function. Now you will find a link to the playlist with a Share button. Tap it to access your device’s sharing menu and select your preferred method for sending links to others.

Step 5: Collaborate and Rock

At the other end of the conversation, your invited friends will click on the link, which will open in the YouTube Music app. They’ll first have to accept the invitation by tapping “Continue” when prompted, but from there they can add songs as they usually would, and their profile pictures will appear on the settings screen. Collaborate.

Fair warning: we encountered some error messages when accepting invitations to collaborate, but we finally got through. We’ll consider this an early adoption bug.

Once your friends have added their tracks, you’ll see them in your playlist with their respective names listed under each song title alongside your own selections. If you disapprove of one, you can delete a song, but now they can delete yours too. You will need to tap into your communication skills from now on. If necessary, you can go back to the settings to adjust the sorting.

Once the dust has settled, return to the playlist view from step 3 and press the Shuffle or Play button to roll with it. If someone adds songs at this point, you’ll need to overwrite Shuffle or Play again to refresh the queue.

Step 6: Break up the group (optional)

When the listening party is over and you’ve had enough of their input, you can return to the Collaborate page and readjust the settings. Tap “Disable Link” to permanently disable the link you previously shared. In its place, a “Get Link” button will appear if you want to open the playlist, but this will generate a whole new link.

To exclude your co-conspirators, activate the “Collaborators” button again. You will receive a warning message, but press “ok” to go solo. You’re a star, you’ll tell yourself, and you don’t need it.

While the addition of Suggestions and Collaborate give Google Play Music converts new functionality, they simply match capabilities already found in other services like Spotify. Still, as Google puts its music streaming efforts solely behind YouTube Music, we can be sure the platform won’t remain stagnant.




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Cover image and screenshots by Tommy Palladino/Gadget Hacks

George L. Hernandez