YouTube Music is testing a new way to help you find something to listen to. It’s called Samplers, and it occupies a new tab in the YouTube Music app. The company describes it as “a continuous stream of short-form video segments so you can listen to your new favorite music,” which is just TikTok. Samples is TikTok, except it’s made up entirely of little music video snippets. Given the way music discovery operates in 2023, it could work.
The sample feed is personalized, so when you open it, the app will try to provide you with a wide range of music that you might like. If you find something you like, you can tap to play the song, watch the full video, add it to a playlist, or even make a short with it as a soundtrack. YouTube’s advantage here, of course, is that it’s the only place where you can do all of those things in one app. (And listen to podcasts and more. YouTube really does find everything audio-related, all in one place.)
YouTube Music and its competitors live and die by their discovery mechanisms. “You can hear Taylor Swift here” is no longer a relevant advantage, so these companies are trying to be the place where you discover, share and interact with music. TikTok is the dominant player here, of course; is so fundamental to music discovery for some people that Spotify”The most popular” and “Tik Tok SongsPlaylists often look alarmingly similar.
Because songs go viral on TikTok through dance, skits, or reaction videos, the 30- or 60-second portion of a track that goes viral is almost always the catchiest part of the song. Now, TikTok is starting to roll out its full music app, TikTok Music, to try and capture the entire listening experience. YouTube is trying to do the same from the opposite direction. The samples seem designed to try to capture the same experience by giving you the best moment of each song ever recorded in the hope that you can see everything.
You may also remember the recent redesign of Spotify, which had some of the same goals and design ideas as Samples. That redesign was met with quick backlash, but the company has continued to look for ways to use TikTok’s mechanisms to help connect people with new tunes. Swatches should be a lot less controversial given that it’s just a tab in the app, but it’s another example of how powerful fast-twitch vertical scrolling has become in helping people find new things.