Music Industry

Google’s Stranglehold on Streaming Music Services Increases

Quick: What’s that’s the most-popular go-to source for music online? It’s YouTube. More people go to YouTube for music than all the other streaming music services put together.

Today, YouTube got a lot stronger in the online music space as it launched its long-rumoured streaming music service. From Billboard:

Google and YouTube have finally unveiled their long-simmering music streaming solution, rumored for over a year now, and it’s… YouTube. The company has made its streaming service less like a streaming service and more like a new section of the video behemoth, bolstered by licensing deals (as Billboard reportedin August) — with the three major labels and “hundreds of indies,” according to a spokesperson (more on that below) — advertisements on non-video music, and a series of features intended to make finding music and organizing  those preferences easier. In a video demonstration to Billboard (via Google Hangout, naturally), the service appeared to be no different from the YouTube app, separated from the original service by a tab, with a few tiny new buttons added to the default mobile interface we were shown.

Keep reading.

Add this new service to Google Play Music and the recently-acquired Songza and the boys in Mountainview have carved out a huge part of the streaming arena for themselves. It’ll be interesting what effect this will have on the future of streaming. I have a feeling that it might spur a round of consolidation where we’ll see plenty of mergers involving other players.

Mark Mullgian of Music Industry Blog has ten thoughts about these developments.

Google just announced its long anticipated YouTube Music Key. You can find out all you need to know about its potential impact on the wider market in MIDiA’s report ‘Unlocking YouTube: How YouTube Will Change Music Subscriptions’. Here are 10 further thoughts:

  1. Identity crisis: We are at a crucial juncture in YouTube’s life. As I wrote last week, artists and labels have a conflicted view of YouTube. 10 million streams on YouTube is a marketing success but 10 million Spotify streams are lost sales. So following that logic does that mean 10 million Music Key free streams are better than 10 million Music Key paid streams?! Either way it will force the industry to reconsider its views on YouTube as a marketing vs a consumption channel. Streaming in order to buy was a model with clear outcomes. Streaming in order to stream is not. Music Key will act as a catalyst for the broader narrative of reassessing YouTube’s music industry role now that the end destination is increasingly streaming itself.
  2. YouTube just got a fantastic upgrade to its free tier: As part of the deal for the paid tier YouTube got new discovery features and full album streaming. Full album streams on YouTube have always been a contentious issue, now they are there officially. This small but crucial product feature transforms YouTube free from a discovery service to a fully-fledged destination.

Keep reading.

Meanwhile, it’s being asked if  it’s possible they don’t have all the necessary licenses.

Oh, and the new service plays anything you want by Taylor Swift.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38403 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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