YouTube Music On The Launch Pad
On Tuesday YouTube is launching the next iteration of its music streaming platform called YouTube Music. Users can choose between an ad-supported free tier or pay $9.99/mo for an ad-free version. While these tiers seem pretty straightforward and consistent with other competitive offerings, things get a little wonky when you start mingling YouTube Music with its other paid products. For instance, Google Play Music (granddad of YouTube Music) will still exist, and subscribers will receive both services for the same price. YouTube Red, their video subscription platform, will also still exist but they’re rebranding it as YouTube Premium. New Premium subscribers will get both services (YouTube Premium and YouTube Music) for $11.99/mo. Anyone confused yet?
Industry pundits are skeptical that YouTube Music will be that much stronger than competitors like Spotify and Apple, and be able to compete in an already-crowded music subscription market. Since 2015 Google/YouTube has attempted four versions of a streaming service without ever really finding the right formula. So to many this feels more like a “me too” strategy than a true breakthrough in the sector.
As a side note, one of the more jaded theories going around is that YouTube might actually ramp up its ad load on YouTube proper to tip some of its billion-plus worldwide users into the ad-free subscription environment. Earlier this year at SxSW YouTube’s global head of music Lyor Cohen said, “There’s a lot more people in our funnel that we can frustrate and seduce to become subscribers.” I don’t know about you, but intentionally frustrating users doesn’t sound like a really consumer friendly business strategy to me.