YouTube has long been the music service that wasn’t actually a music service. While its bread and butter is obviously videos, the site has always been used for music streaming, regardless of its intended purposes.
An oft-referenced Nielsen report last year revealed that teenagers were largely using the platform to listen to music – not to “watch” it. This parallels the fact that users continue to access YouTube rippers, services that allow them to grab the audio from a a video and repackage it into an MP3 file they can then download and effectively own as a song track.
Given all this, it comes as no surprise that YouTube is working on a subscription music service. According to the report from Billboard, it will work similarly to Spotify: There will be a free service as well as a premium tier that will take out the ads (let’s stop for a moment to really think of what an ad-free YouTube would be like) and the option to cache music for offline listening later. Users who opt to go with the free account will get unlimited access to tracks, via desktop or mobile. According to early rumors, the service is trying to keep mobile a focus – and of course, it will meet its competitors’ $10 price mark.
YouTube’s music client won’t be songs only, however, and will pair this with videos – which is vaguely reminiscent of what the new Myspace is attempting to do with its versatile, visual, feature-heavy relaunch.
This all might cause you to wonder what’s the deal with Google All Access, the relatively recently launched music platform the Web behemoth offers. While Google managed to get all four major record labels on board, the streaming service hasn’t managed to take off. The app still isn’t available for iOS, though it should be soon. Still, the sense of being too late to the party has plagued All Access.
But YouTube has a leg up: It’s already being used to listen to (or retrieve through a gray area legal loophole) music and in users’ minds is already a music service – and that sort of identification is important to consumer adoption. That, plus the song rights Google was able to amass with its All Access build, could make it a legitimate threat.
Of course, YouTube has declined to comment on the rumors, simply saying there’s nothing to announce at the moment.