Exclusive: ‘YouTube Music’ Is Launching This Summer…

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YouTube is great at serving videos, and horrible at keeping secrets.  According to three additional sources now sharing details with Digital Music News, the streaming ginormity sometimes referred to as ‘YouTube Music’ is now slated for a summertime launch.

The updated timetable is several months later than originally planned, but quite normal in the world of massive streaming releases (ie, Beats, Spotify in the US, etc.)

YouTube is easily the largest music service on the planet, despite being chaotic and messy.  Or, maybe because of it: YouTube videos are easily shared, easily created, and YouTube features the broadest music catalog imaginable.  Now, the question is whether YouTube can gain even more ground (and revenue) by taming that chaos a bit, and even charging premiums for the privilege.

The updated timetable follows ongoing leaks of presentations to participating rights owners, and sloppy attempts by YouTube to keep the details secret.  Just last year, a YouTube executive vehemently denied that a recent presentation had occurred in London, despite multiple sources pointing to the meeting.  A few days ago, YouTube unsuccessfully pressured Digital Music News to remove a comment pointing to recent private meetings and presentations at MIDEM in France last month.

And with that, here are just a few of updates what YouTube Music may be planning:

Complete, millions-plus catalog of videos, similar to Spotify but with videos.

Easily-accessible, pre-assembled albums, curated playlists, and histories.

Offline cacheing to mobile devices and tablets (unconfirmed for launch).

Perfectly-synched playlists, histories, and accounts across 3+ multiple devices.

Ad-free enjoyment.

HD-quality videos of consistent quality.

‘Video as a layer’: Audio-only listening will remain an easy option (and possible a lower-bandwidth solution on devices in a future release).  On a laptop or desktop, videos are easily subsumed into a stack of browser tabs.

Integration into broader Google Play suite of services (unconfirmed for launch).

Pre-licensed security against sudden DMCA takedowns.

Simple, more elegant search results, without endless multiples of the same songs and karaoke covers.

Easily-access viewing histories and recommendations based on previous activity.

More (hopefully many more) details ahead.

39 Responses

  1. Anon

    Does anyone know if/how Vevo will play into this? 2 of the 3 major labels have a stake in Vevo, which currently licenses content to YouTube on these label’s behalf (as well as many indies and digital aggregators). Will this new service use Vevo’s existing licensing deals or go around Vevo?

    • toobad

      Youtube pretty much Built Vevo. I’m pretty sure them and every other MCN will be involved

      • V

        Youtube did not build VEVO. They’ve never seen any programming code. It’s a financial partnership period.

  2. Casey

    People see Youtube as a free service. I don’t see this being a big success especially considering people can already get access to majority of these videos for free. Every attempt to bring in subscription revenue from Youtube so far has failed.

  3. TuneHunter

    It is strange for well to do BIG FISH like Google to drift to so shallow DEAD SEA of streaming.

    Subscriptions for music and advertising around it is known since 1927 (BBC sub for Radio). It is active to this date in most countries in Europe. It was always secondary source of income but never on collision course with music as a merchandise.

    Today’s avant-garde players as they have provided free discovery and music ID as a part of the deal have eliminated music as a merchandise.
    Net result: homeless music wallowing on the streets with no hopes for normal monetization on the horizon!

  4. Anonymous

    “Complete, millions-plus catalog of videos, similar to Spotify but with videos.”

    YouTube doesn’t want to be Spotify, it wants to be Netflix. And no wonder. Netflix proved that a lot of people will pay for something like this.

    But here’s the difference: Netflix is not popular because of its old movies. It is popular because it creates new, strong content that just keeps on coming.

    Google can’t copy that. It just doesn’t have the infrastructure. It’s at war with Hollywood, and it’s at war with musicians, writers, composers, designers and artists. Its business model is to take other people’s property and monetize it. And that may bring down their house of cards.

    Consumers want what Netflix brings to the table: New content, created by new artists, produced for new money in an environment where things happen.

    While Google’s old men are building a museum. Old catalogues. Old artists. Old money…

    • GGG

      “But here’s the difference: Netflix is not popular because of its old movies. It is popular because it creates new, strong content that just keeps on coming.”

      Depends what your definition of “old” is, but you’re right about movies. Where you’re wrong is about TV. Tons of people stream shows like Battlestar Galactica, as well as binge watch old seasons of current or recently ended shows. Netflix doesn’t create nearly enough content to qualify that as the sole reason people sign up. It’s certainly a large part, especially after the award season recognition, but Hulu has significantly more original content than Netflix. Netflix’s strength is probably just as much, if not more, their TV catalogue, because it saves people the headache of searching couch tuner or youtube for shit quality free episodes.

      • Anonymous

        “Netflix doesn’t create nearly enough content to qualify that as the sole reason people sign up.”

        Netflix is a success for several reasons. But it gained momentum because of its own productions. Customers love to watch old series — but

        they need to know what happens to Frank Underwood.

        Google will never have a Piper Chapman or a Frank Underwood.

        And it can lose everything if a new, creative player — or an old one — understands this and reinvents the entire music industry, perhaps by

        fusing with Hollywood and offering what Netflix proves consumers will pay for:

        A regular — preferably constant — stream of new and compelling experiences.

        Instead of a museum.

        • smg77

          There is absolutely nothing stopping Google/Youtube from generating original content like Netflix did. Why would you think they couldn’t?

          • Anonymous

            “There is absolutely nothing stopping Google/Youtube from generating original content like Netflix did. Why would you think they couldn’t?


            1) Google doesn’t believe in Intellectual Property.

            2) Google actively fights the very basis of all creative work, copyright.

            3) Google’s business model is to take other people’s property and monetize it.

            4) Google Search is the world’s leading portal to organized copyright crime.

            5) Google is at war with Hollywood; it’s at war with musicians, and it’s at war with writers, composers, designers and artists. In short, it’s at war with everybody they would need to work with in order to create content.

          • TuneHunter

            #6 Google is too stupid to realize that in controlled environment PPT (Pay Per Tune) will be 20 times more frequent than one PPC. Let’s continue holy advertising smoke around homeless music.

    • Me

      No, Netflix became popular because its huge movie and TV catalog. It became more popular when they started offering streaming capabilities. Netflix has only recently ventured into original content, and they have been successful with it. It’s adding to the popularity, but that’s not why they’re popular.

      • Anonymous

        “Netflix has only recently ventured into original content, and they have been successful with it”

        ‘Successful’ is a severe understatement:

        “In February 2013, Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, told GQ “the goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.”

        And that strategy appears to be paying off. Netflix’s first quarter results were much better than expected. Its stock soared 24% in after-hours trading to $215.40 — on April 22, it announced that it had gained two million new U.S. customers in the first three months of 2013 — reaching 29.2 million — which was 200,000 more than the average of seven estimates compiled by Bloomberg.”


        “As Piper Jaffray analyst, Michael Olson, told the New York Times, ”It appears original programming may be driving better subscriber numbers.”

        Source: Forbes, April 23, 2013.

        • Me

          Yes, but my point is that Netflix was already wildly popular before they added original content. This just increased their popularity.

        • GGG

          Yea, dude, I don’t know why literally EVERYTHING is so black and white for you. The value people find in Netflix isn’t just what, 4 shows, one of which I don’t think anyone has actually watched. That is certainly a driver, I’m not disagreeing with you, but you need to retain people, as well, which they do. Netflix’s TV catalogue is retaining a shitload of people 1) because it’s good, much better than their film catalogue, and 2) you have seasons upon seasons of anywhere from 12-24 epodes of shows. Even binge watching an 8 season show can lapse people into another month.

          10 years from now when there’s 15 shows with 5+ seasons under their belts, then I’ll buy your argument that people only sign up for the original content.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t think Netflix, Spotify and YouTube exist in 2024.

            I think one service offers — and creates — everything you want.

          • Versus

            …and the “one service” will be a pharmaceuticals company.

    • Anon

      as the worlds of technology and entertainment continue to merge and consolidate, it would not surprise me if companies like google, amazon and apple begin to look into the creation of owned music content, especially for google where musicians have the ability to drive internet traffic and increase ad revenue.

      • Anonymous

        “it would not surprise me if companies like google, amazon and apple begin to look into the creation of owned music content”

        Yes, Amazon and Apple could do that. Most huge players could. But Google can’t.

        Google just doesn’t believe in Intellectual Property. It actively and constantly fights the concept of copyright — which is the basis of all music, literature and art.

        And it’s at war with content creators and distributors because it takes and monetizes their content without asking.

        It never creates its own.

        • Anonymous

          That’s a load of bullshit. Google’s entire business is based on copyright (software is primarily protected by copyright).

          • Anonymous

            Let’s see, Google owns and monetizes the world’s leading portal to organized copyright crime (it increased its DMCA abuse by more than 700,000 percent in four years); it stopped SOPA, PIPA and ACTA; it scans and monetizes entire libraries without permission, it finances notorious anti-copyright organizations like Chilling Effects; it lobbies against Copyright 24/7 across the world — latest in Australia where Google told the Government to promote new, magical business models instead of fighting piracy.

            Because… wait for it: “online piracy is primarily an availability and pricing problem.” 🙂

            It is not clear yet if the company also thinks car theft exists because of ‘availability and pricing problems’, but we’ll know more when Google releases its first driver-less car.

            Needless to say, we expect it to be free.

    • hippydog

      wait! let me get on this 😉

      Netflix is popular because its been able to retain its customers!
      THATS the primary reason why its doing so well..

      1.) it started with a cheap price.
      2.) has a well made interface that actually works on most platforms (from net connected DVD players to TV’s to Computers to smartphones.)
      3.) has one of the better curation algorithms (their selection/catalog is not all encompassing BUT customers will watch movies and TV they might not normally watch because of it.. )
      4.) they CREATED content, content that turned out to be really good..

      so again,
      it isnt just ONE thing that made them popular, but the multiple things that ended up with them being able to RETAIN their monthly subscribers.. Its cheap enough that people are willing to try it, and they stick around because they are able to justify the monthly cost (after the more popular TV shows or movies have been watched)..

  5. Nissl

    “Simple, more elegant search results, without endless multiples of the same songs and karaoke covers.”

    Interesting. If this affects the overall site, this is bad news for a lot of kids and small-time independent pop acts that are pretty much relying on Youtube covers to attract their initial audiences. I can see why that’s a worthwhile tradeoff for Google in favor of streamlining the site to pursue a few billion dollars a year in subscription revenue.

    Curious to see how this will do. Spotify, but with ad-free HD videos where available (plus the ability to upload your own music, backed by Google Play) sounds like a decent pitch. Need to get the UI right, though, there’s a lot of seemingly countervailing requirements for the free/non-music part of the site and I still can’t quite picture it. Just turning Youtube into an ad for Google Play should at least get them a few points of market share at a minimum.

    Apple launching a streaming service on iTunes would have a bigger, faster impact, I think.

    • Anonymous

      “Apple launching a streaming service on iTunes would have a bigger, faster impact, I think.”

      Not without music videos. That’s what people want. An audio-only service would just destroy iTunes.

      But if Apple copies YouTube and Netflix, it can kill both and rule the world.

      • Versus

        Why do you think a video streaming service is what people want? Spotify does not stream videos.

  6. Dr. X

    Look like the labels are going all in on streaming now.

    Streaming revenue 2011: $650 mil
    Streaming Revenue 2012: $1.0328 billion USD (up 59%)
    Streaming Revenue 2013: $1.439 billion USD (up 39.3%)


    Streaming Revenue: $1.0328 billion USD (up 59%)
    Singles Download Revenue: $1.623.6 billion USD (up 6.7%)
    Album Download Revenue: $1.205 billion USD
    CD (physical): $2.4856 billion USD


    Streaming Revenue: $1.439 billion USD (up 39.3%)
    Singles Download Revenue: $1.569 billion USD (down 3.4%)
    Album Download Revenue: $1.234 billion USD (up 2.4%)
    CD (physical): $2.1235 (down 14.6%)

    • TuneHunter

      Dr. X, Please put this communist poster on your forehead and walk around Universal headquarters.

      Your excitement will be appreciated and you will reassure boys inside that they are on the right track!

      Titanic is safe!

      Let’s VeeVoooo!

  7. LetsStayAnonymous

    I’ve seen the product at Midem as well. The main idea of it is that it will not be a separate app but an update of the existing Youtube app/service, with the extended features mentionned above.

    A feature not mentionned in this article will be the ability to listen to the content while using another app on your phone, like texting or whatsoever. Currently, music/video stops if you try to multitask on mobile.

    • Anonymous

      “listen to the content while using another app on your phone”

      … and there we have the Spotify killer.

      But again, I’d rather see a Netflix killer — and I’m sure Google would, too.

      • GGG

        Something tells me you own a ton of Blockbuster stock, hoping those stores will open back up again soon…

        • Anonymous

          No, I hope that Apple — or any other capable player — will break the ugly walls between the creative industries and start a service that offers the entire music/movie/literature catalogue, but is based on new, original content.

          A Netflix for music, a Spotify for literature, a YouTube for movies. Rolled in one.

          People won’t pay for ten services. But they will pay for one. And that payment is needed to create the content they love.

          • Throckmorton Ploop

            And God knows I love me some content!

  8. Anonymous

    …and the latest:

    According to Music Ally, YouTube plans to commit suicide!

    Not only by naming its new service YouTube Music Pass (sorry, I’ll have to pass on this one), but also by demanding that content owners provide their entire catalogues to both versions of the service.

    Which means YouTube hasn’t heard the news — windowing is the new black — and YouTube Music Pass already passed away.

    Next: Apple…

  9. Anonymous

    Here’s Music Ally’s story about YouTube Music Pass Away:

  10. Anonymous

    …also from the Music Ally story:

    “There are also grumbles about clauses that seemingly attempt to place restrictions on how labels run exclusive promotional offers for music and music videos with rival services”

    Which obviously means Apple.

    Now, Google is at war with most writers, composers and artists on the planet.

    While Apple not only is the primary income source for most of Google’s enemies, but also famous for inventing the world’s best and most popular eco-system for artists.

    If I were YouTube, I really wouldn’t force content owners to choose between Google and Apple.

    People might just say: YouTube Music, Pass Away!