YouTube is planning to launch a music streaming service later this year, news of which has surprised absolutely no one. It’s meant to compete with Spotify and Pandora, with users streaming whatever song they want while YouTube profits from ad revenue, aka what it already does. YouTube isn’t entering the music streaming fight, it’s already there… and it’s winning.
According to Nielsen, 64% of teens listen to music through YouTube and actually buying music is falling into history books with CDs, cassettes and records. YouTube has such a diverse library and easy shareability which makes it stand above other music streaming services without calling itself a music streaming service.
YouTube just needs to upgrade what it currently does and polish the rough edges. It needs to find ways for users to curate their playlists and improve its recommended videos and search results. Bob Marley fans listening to I Shot the Sheriff probably don’t want to watch a local news story about a sheriff actually getting shot. If YouTube can create a haven where search results are exclusively high-quality music videos and influencers make cool playlists, it will run away with the streaming market share.
Except for cat videos. Cat videos are always relevant YouTube search results.
Some have questioned if YouTube’s streaming service is Google double dipping into the music market. It already has Google Play which has song matching to introduce users to albums and artists. Why would it change YouTube to make it compete with another of its existing products? The answer again lies in market share. Google Play isn’t looking to tap into the streaming market and pull from Pandora, it wants to compete with iTunes. Google Play competing with music streaming apps is like a typewriter company competing with iPads and other tablets. Yes both can be used to create content, but one is on a technologically higher level. YouTube is already a goliath in the music market, launching the platform is simply waking the giant up.
Expect YouTube’s streaming to mimic Pandora and Spotify’s. Revenue will be made through advertising and through premium accounts that skip ads. This service not only appeals to advertisers but also to the music industry, which receives per-song royalties on listening sites.
If YouTube can launch a successful streaming service with its massive library and social aspects, it could lead to the site becoming a one-stop supermarket for media. Amazon has music and video streaming services, YouTube has music and videos. Maybe it could take the lessons learned from its music launch and start competing with video streaming sites like Hulu. The sky is the limit.
Naturally that is all just speculation. Some are don’t believe the rumors that YouTube will be a Spotify competitor, much less hair-brained ideas about video streaming and free unlimited content on one site. Either way, viewers are going to see more than Harlem Shake parodies on YouTube later this year, they’re going to see easier streaming capabilities.