Business News Digital

YouTube CEO says music service coming soon, hopefully

By | Published on Wednesday 29 October 2014


YouTube’s long-awaited much-anticipated and sure-to-be-swell audio streaming service, code name (well, that’s what the indie labels have code named it, I’m sure), will be with us very soon, oh yes it will be, soon I tell you, soon! How soon? Soon soon, that’s how soon. So put it in your diaries, people. Next to the word ‘soon’.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki was asked about her company’s much-mooted Spotify competitor at a Re/code conference on Monday and, according to CNet, said: “I remain optimistic that you can see it soon”. And you can’t say fairer than that. Optimism! Half full glasses are presumably in abundance around YouTube’s music department.

The Google subsidiary’s subscription-based music service has been a long-time coming, presumably hindered in no small part by the company’s big fall-out with many of the indie record companies, who argued that YouTube was offering below-market terms for its Spotify-rivalling set-up, while threatening to cut off access to the firm’s existing video platform if they didn’t play ball. The tough deal making backfired on Google when the labels went public.

Nevertheless, said Wojcicki of the YouTube music service: “I think there’s a lot of opportunity. It’s amazing how much music we have”. So that’s good.

Given the more mainstream audience enjoyed by YouTube’s existing video platform, and the amount of music consumed on it, there definitely is an opportunity for the Google subsidiary to make a serious play in the audio streaming market. Though the jury is still out on whether those more mainstream music fans will pay to access a Spotify-type set-up, because while YouTube may have much greater reach than the streaming music start-ups, it has little experience in charging users for content (digital music analyst Mark Mulligan has just published a report on this very matter and more generally on the potential impact YouTube’s streaming business could have).

Though Wojcicki indicated that YouTube might make a wider move into the subscription space in the future, offering ad-free access to video content as well as its planned new audio service. If a wider subscription option was available on the YouTube platform, that might make the music service upsell easier. Though there again, will consumers be persuaded to pay for ad-free video content? Especially given that more prolific YouTube users, for whom the pre-roll ads are probably an irritation, may well have ad-blocking software installed anyway.

Still, interesting times ahead.