Is YouTube Music Already Doomed?

Photo: Chris McGrath (Getty Images)

Google isn’t giving up on its quest to get you to pay it for music. That’s the principle takeaway from Thursday’s announcement of YouTube Music, a re-imagining of how music-listening works on YouTube. The new streaming service will are available two flavors: a free tier known as YouTube Music and a $10-per-month tier dubbed YouTube Music Premium, and it’s scheduled to debut on May 22 within the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and South Korea.

This marks the fourth try this decade of Google making an attempt to make paid music streaming work. Google Play Music launched in 2011 and although it discovered a distinct segment viewers through the years, it by no means really challenged Spotify (or later, Apple Music), and now it’s about to be rolled into the just-announced YouTube Music service. In 2014, Google created YouTube Music Key, which provided ad-free movies and background listening for a subscription price, but it surely nonetheless by no means took off in any significant means. You could also be beginning to decide up on a theme right here.

In 2015, YouTube announced the YouTube Music app—an organization is barely given so many names for a music service. The app was merely a cell model of YouTube, the place you might take away advertisements and allow background listening with a YouTube Red subscription. Not to spoil something, however the paid YouTube Music App additionally wasn’t a runaway success.

Beyond a historical past of repeated missteps, the higher challenge dealing with YouTube Music (2018 Edition) is stiffer competitors within the music streaming house. Apple simply introduced that its music service has 50 million subscribers, Spotify reached 75 million paying subscribers in May with a complete consumer base of 170 million, and Amazon Music continues to quietly develop via Alexa-enabled gadgets.

So what’s going to distinguish YouTube Music from the competitors? T. Jay Fowler, director of product administration at YouTube, told Pitchfork the service would supply a “deeply personalized experience” with the assistance of Google Assistant. That sounds unremarkably much like Spotify’s really useful playlists that shift in response to the time of the day. However, the true benefit of YouTube Music will not be AI, however quite the last decade’s price of content material on the platform—be it covers, live performance footage, or remixes—that Apple Music and Spotify gained’t be capable of match. The solely downside is that customers have gotten accustomed to this content material being free since YouTube’s inception.

YouTube’s tiresome counterpoint is that, with over 1.5 billion customers on the platform, it’s nearly getting some individuals, not everybody, to pay to pay attention. Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s world head of music, said earlier this year: “There’s a lot more people in our funnel that we can frustrate and seduce to become subscribers.”

The new YouTube Music gained’t divulge heart’s contents to the general public till May 22. We nonetheless haven’t tried the service out for ourselves, and it’s actually potential Google has extra surprises deliberate, akin to key exclusives a la Tidal, or some killer characteristic we don’t learn about but. But for now, the service sounds most like a formalized solution to push present customers to pay for music or else make them undergo via an limitless stream of advertisements. The service launches subsequent week, but it surely already looks like yet one more try to power shoppers right into a product they’ve repeatedly made clear isn’t desired.

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