Australians and New Zealanders will get the first spin on YouTube’s new subscription music platform, YouTube Music, which finally launches in these parts next Wednesday (May 23).
After months of beta-testing and drip-feeding details, YouTube last night unveiled its latest foray into legitimate, on-demand streaming, with a service which bundles audio and video across multiple plans and comes with its own “reimagined” mobile app and desktop players.
YouTube Music enters a flourishing, multi-billion-dollar marketplace dominated by Spotify and Apple Music. Spotify, the market leader, claimed a base of paid subscribers in the region of 73-76 million in the first quarter on total active users of 168-171 million. And Apple Music this week announced it had passed 50 million registered users.
YouTube Music swotted up on its rivals
Like Spotify, YouTube Music dangles an ad-supported version which is free to use. The next step up is YouTube Music Premium, which is priced at $11.99 a month for background listening, downloads and, of course, no ads.
At the top end is YouTube Premium, which costs AU$14.99 and offers YouTube Music plus access to all YouTube Originals including Cobra Kai, Step Up: High Water and Youth & Consequences.
YouTube Premium replaces the YouTube Red subscription service, which has failed to catch fire. Google Play Music will also be phased out, according to U.S. reports.
The new platform “will make the world of music easier to explore and more personalised than ever before – one place where two million artists, including your favourite local acts, will come to share their voices and art with the world and connect with fans,” the tech giant boasts in a corporate statement.
YouTube’s third paid music service has been a talking point for almost a year
Indeed, YouTube’s Global Head Of Music Lyor Cohen told this reporter at the Music Matters conference in Singapore last September, “The process is going really, really great. I’m in awe of the people building the product. They’re intelligent and musical. I l really feel very confident.”
Cohen was due to speak at the Music Biz summit Wednesday in Nashville, though he ultimately pulled out and YouTube instead made the announcement that it would credit music creators in more than 500 million videos on its platform.
That was a surprise. But with the YouTube Music development, the Alphabet-owned tech giant delivered the big announcement everyone was waiting for.
Streaming is a massive business
According to the IFPI’s recently-published Global Music Report, revenue from streaming grew by 41.1% compared with the previous year. And with paid subscription accounts numbering more than 176 million worldwide, streaming is now the No. 1 source of recorded music revenue, generating 38.4% of the total.
YouTube has tried, with little success, to compete for some of those subscription riches with audio-only Google Play that launched in 2011 and YouTube Music Key in 2014, which became YouTube Red in 2015.