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YouTube planning streaming service

By | Published on Thursday 24 October 2013


YouTube is plotting a premium on-demand music service, according to various sources.

The Google-owned video site is, of course, arguably already the world’s biggest streaming music platform, even if it’s not officially billed as such. But it’s thought that the new service, although delivered within the YouTube framework, will be designed to accommodate audio-only content, albeit with some sort of photo-based visual display, and would take tracks direct from labels, rather than relying in part on user-uploads.

The new service would also offer both freemium and premium options, the former relying on YouTube’s existing advertisers to pay royalties to rights owners, the latter being the video site’s first major move into the subscription domain, beyond the small number of YouTube partners already dabbling with pay-to-view. Aside from ad-free music, it is thought the premium version would offer more mobile functionality, pretty much in line with the other on-demand streaming services that charge extra for offline mobile listening etc.

Given how many people, especially younger consumers, already see YouTube as their primary online destination for on-demand music, there is a logic to the site more formally moving into this territory, though whether it can persuade that audience – likely attracted in no small part by the fact YouTube content is free – to sign-up for a premium option remains to be seen.

A YouTube streaming platform would, of course, compete with Google’s existing streaming service that operates under the web giant’s Play brand, and could quickly supersede it. Given YouTube’s usual autonomy from the rest of Google, it’s not clear how much joined up thinking there is between YouTube Music and Google Play, though Billboard suggests that the licensing deals done with the majors for the latter included provisions for the former.

It would also put YouTube more readily in competition with Vevo, the Universal/Sony owned music video service which reaches a sizable chunk of its audience via the Google video plaform, and which increasingly brings the official label content to the YouTube site.

While the new service would be more audio based, of course, there is evidence some music fans already use YouTube/Vevo more as an audio than video platform, and if YouTube search started pushing people looking for specific artists more to its own streaming platform than Vevo content, well that could possibly have an impact on the latter’s traffic.

Although insiders are pointing to a launch of the new YouTube service before the year is out, a spokesman for the company told Billboard: “We’re always working on new and better ways for people to enjoy YouTube content across all screens, and on giving partners more opportunities to reach their fans, however we have nothing to announce at this time”.