A Google Chrome browser extension called Streamus is lit up with buzz after the developer posted a promotional status report on Reddit. Streamus makes YouTube music navigation easier and more lightweight. At the same time, the extension separates the user from YouTube, and provides some of the value that YouTube’s new Music Key subscription service promotes.
Like other Chrome extensions, Streamus hangs down from the Chrome browser navigation bar. In that small window you can search for artists or songs and build playlists. A “Radio” feature keeps the music going indefinitely based on the original selection.
Crucially, the little app removes advertisements (like a YouTube ripper) and strips out the video (reducing bandwidth need and improving stream performance).
In our testing, creating a Streamus playlist did not add that playlist to our YouTube account. However, you can do the reverse, importing a YouTube playlist into Streamus. After doing that, if you change the playlist within Streamus, the changes are not transferred back to YouTube. Streamus acts as an independent surrogate for YouTube, a third-party client that offers a complete listening solution with YouTube’s content, with all commercialism (and the heavy video) removed. It is, one could argue, a simpler and better version of Music Key than Music Key. (RAIN News is a Music Key subscriber, with a firmly favorable view of how it enhances YouTube Music.)
The light weight and full-function independence of Streamus undermines Google’s music monetization efforts in classic YouTube and Music Key. Removing the ads and obviating the subscription gateway plays into the hands and hearts of digital natives (and anyone else) who resists paying for on-demand music.
YouTube is not the only venue for Streamus, which is tightly integrated into BeatPort, and the developer is building functions that will work with SoundCloud. Broadening the focus from YouTube might not soften the sharp irony of a Chrome extension that rips Google’s streaming business.