YouTube delays launch of Music Key to work on mobile interface

youtube paid music streaming service key delayed

YouTube doesn’t seem too worried about the delayed launch of its subscription-based streaming service, Music Key, even as formidable streaming music competitors seem to be sprouting up left and right.

The service, which proposes to offer a wealth of ad-free music videos for a monthly fee, has been available in an invite-only beta version since November and was expected to launch in May. YouTube announced an extension of the free beta until at least September 15 as the company continues to refine its new offering.

The news comes right on the heels of the planned June 8 launch for Apple’s anticipated music streaming service, and just two months after the relaunch of Tidal, the Jay Z-owned high fidelity streaming service, which launched to lukewarm reception in late March.

YouTube head of content, Robert Kyncl, downplayed the delay in a recent interview with The Guardian.

“We’re still going through some development,” Kyncl said. “The launch is coming in a few months from here: there’s a little bit of a delay, but nothing too serious.”

When it does launch, the service will allow ad-free playback of music videos, background playback, and offline caching (which will allow users to view videos offline) as well as access to around 30 million tracks in the Google Play Music library. YouTube plans to charge an introductory price of $8 per month for the service, but the regular monthly subscription fee will inch up to $10 per month, which is the industry standard for music streaming services.

“We have been collecting a lot of feedback and working with that,” Kyncl said regarding its beta period. “We got a lot of really great feedback, and thought it was better to address most of it than to launch without [addressing] it … We’re a lot smarter about the product from the heaviest users.”

Kyncl also spoke on YouTube’s increased focus on mobile as mobile traffic now comprises half of its usage. “We think that it’s all about mobile, and that’s where we’re putting most of our efforts across the board … We think that phone is the remote control for your life, and it’s definitely the remote control for your video.”

Music Key remains a priority for YouTube, and the service is currently the streaming giant’s only video subscription offering in the works. “We just can’t do many different subscriptions, and do them well, and grow them large,” he said. “So we’re focusing on one big effort today.”

By the time it does launch, a music video subscription streaming service will not be novel. Tidal already features a few music videos, Spotify just announced a video component, and we’re not sure exactly what’s in store for Apple Music. YouTube Music Key will certainly have an uphill battle, but the addition of both Google Play, and a massive collection of music videos could give the service an advantage over the competition in the increasingly crowded streaming space.

And seeing as YouTube is the king of online video, when Music Key does go live, things could get interesting.


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