YouTube is an incredible haven for video content, and the strongest example besides Wikipedia of the inherent will of humans to document and share their own collective history. Surely that’s the only reason you can watch dozens of hours of Australian television commercials from the ’90s, right?
It is also an amazing place to watch any video clip your heart desires, or to listen to full albums from any era. Some of it is legally, and factually dubious (don’t think Nirvana were too involved in ‘Sex and Candy’) and YouTube have had quite a time trying to keep up with the various copyright infringements that still occur, due to the West West nature of the early internet days. Now they face a stronger challenge, as listener habits have shifted to audio-only streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.
The first half of 2016 marked the first time that streaming services overtook YouTube for music-related streams, and the gap is only getting larger. Analytics gurus BuzzAngle have crunched the numbers for the first half of 2017, and note that streaming on Spotify and Apple Music jumped by more than 69% in the US since the same time last year, to 141.3 billion streams. YouTube music use is still growing, but at the slowest rate since its inception, only rising 6.1%, to 101.5 billion streams.
BuzzAngle don’t split the various streaming services apart in their findings, so it’s possible YouTube are outperforming both Spotify and Apple Music individually, but it’s the trend towards audio-only subscription services that should raise alarm bells for YouTube.