YouTube Streaming Service Takes On Spotify
The Music Key service from the video giant could pose yet another challenge to the music industry.
YouTube has launched a paid music subscription service to take on Spotify.
Called YouTube Music Key, the streaming service is available free with adverts or as a paid service with extra features without ads.
YouTube, owned by Google, has renegotiated licensing deals with record labels in recent months but would not say how much those deals are worth, nor how much money an artist would earn from a stream of their songs.
Music Key launches in beta, and the paid service will start at £7.99 a month for a limited number of users, before being available for £9.99 to everyone.
YouTube has one billion monthly active users
The service has similarities with Spotify as it can create playlists and save music to a device to listen to offline.
But Music Key has more of a focus on the music video itself, rather than audio.
If a musician has made a video for a particular song, the user must stream or download that video too.
Other songs, without a video, can be streamed and downloaded as audio-only.
Spotify made the news when Taylor Swift didn’t release her new album, 1989, on the site, before pulling her entire catalogue.
The artist explained her decision by saying that music was valuable and shouldn’t be free.
Spotify boss Daniel Ek responded by saying that Spotify mitigated the effects of piracy.
The videos from 1989 will be available on YouTube Music Key, but not the entire album.
Both sites have been at pains to emphasise the benefits they offer musicians proportionally and financially.
YouTube has one billion monthly active users and has paid $1bn to users since it was founded in 2005.
Spotify has a smaller user base – around 50 million monthly users – but has paid $2bn (£1.26bn) to artists so far. $1bn of that was in the last year.
And Apple has long been rumoured to be launching a streaming service.
These new arrivals pose a challenge to the music business, according to Nate Lanxon, the editor of Wired.co.uk.
“The music industry has a certain problem with adapting, but it’s not necessarily their fault,” he said.
“The fact is that technology is adapting far faster than a business model can.”
“So we are going to see this continue to happen time and again. I do think, though, that this is the first time that we’re really seeing the music industry en masse having to change dramatically.”