YouTube Is Going to Repeatedly Stuff Ads In Your Face Until You Pay

Lyor Cohen outlines why YouTube’s new music service will succeed.  Here’s why it won’t.

Last week in a keynote at SXSW, Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s Global of Head of Music, confirmed that the video platform would launch a new music service.  Code-named ‘Remix,’ multiple reports had placed the launch of Google’s (3rd) subscription-based music platform launch in early March.

It will now likely launch at the end of this month.

Speaking about the new service, Cohen stated that YouTube’s music platform would have “the best of Google Play Music.”  It would also have the video platform’s “breadth and depth of catalog.”  But, with Google already owning Play Music and YouTube Red, how will the company attract users to its new music service?  Simple.

The answer: flood current YouTube music video watchers with ads until they have no choice but to subscribe.

But, why would people pay for music when they can already listen to it for free?

Speaking at SXSW, Cohen underscored how people who listen to music on YouTube actually want to pay.  Of course, he didn’t provide a clear strategy on how it would compete against Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.  Instead, in true smoke-and-mirrors fashion, Cohen merely stated,

The only place in the industry where you can play both in-commerce and direct-to-consumer is YouTube.  Let’s use it.

The company faces a truly difficult battle to convert current users.  Last year, the IFPI found that video streaming makes up more than half of all on-demand music streaming.  Because of its non-existent price tag, YouTube accounted for 46% of all time spent listening to on-demand music.

This gets worse.  Only 23% of users around the world listened to music through a paid audio streaming subscription.  That explains why Play Music and YouTube Red last reported nearly 7 million total subscriptions combined after several years on the market.

7 million is a lot of people — but not for behemoths like Google and YouTube combined.

With its past subscription-based services, Google has proven that it has yet to build an appealing streaming music platform.  So, to convert users, Cohen shared YouTube’s new strategy.

Why YouTube’s ‘frustrating ads’ strategy will most likely backfire.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Lyor Cohen said that passive music listeners on YouTube will encounter more ads.  They’ll face so many ads, he added, they’ll most likely subscribe.

You’re not going to be happy after you are jamming ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and you get an ad right after that.

In addition, Cohen admitted that with YouTube’s music service, it hopes to put an end to criticism from the music industry.  The company, despite a historically poor relationship with the music industry, recently managed to score major licensing deals.  With the service’s success, it hopes that major labels will finally become “good partners” with major labels.

Thus, people won’t write any negative ‘noise’ against the video platform.

There’s a lot more people in our funnel that we can frustrate and seduce to become subscribers.  Once we do that, trust me, all that noise will be gone and articles people write about that noise will be gone.

In fact, Cohen remains so confident that the music service will succeed, he added that the music industry may finally learn to appreciate YouTube.

They will appreciate in time the advertising.  Everyone is drunk on the growth of subscription.

Yet, frustrating current YouTube users with ads might not entice them to subscribe.

Doing a quick Google search, you’ll find many videos demonstrating how to watch videos ad-free on the platform.  You’ll also find sites dedicated to allowing you to watch YouTube videos without any ‘frustrating’ ads.

In addition, Ad-Block Plus, an add-on for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera, as well as iOS and Android, provides ad-free viewing.  More than 100 million people around the world use this add-on program.  Plus, many of the apps in our MP3 music downloaders list come with built-in ad blockers for YouTube.

In short, if YouTube starts swamping music lovers with ads, why would they subscribe?  Just look at Spotify, the global streaming music leader.  It currently has 71 million subscribers.  With 159 million monthly active users, 88 million people around the world use the service’s free, ad-supported service.  The service provides 30 minutes of ad-free listening just for viewing a 30-second ad.

No, YouTube’s new ad-swamping strategy won’t lead to a successful streaming music service.  Not at all.

Instead, it will ultimately push users to seek other services, or jump on Spotify ‘Freemium.’   The company’s new music service will end up joining the ranks of Play Music and YouTube Red, both of which are all-but-forgotten.


Update: In a statement to Digital Music News, Google attempted to spin Lyor Cohen’s statement.  In amazing double-speak, a YouTube spokesperson confirmed that yes, it will swamp users with ads.  And, no, you can’t do anything about it, unless you subscribe, that is.

Our top priority at YouTube is to deliver a great user experience and that includes ensuring users do not encounter excessive ad loads.  We do not seek to specifically increase ad loads across YouTube.  For a specific subset of users who use YouTube like a paid music service today – and would benefit most from additional features –  we may show more ads or promotional prompts to upsell to our paid service.

So much for changing the music industry’s mind about YouTube.


Featured image by YouTube (screengrab)

23 Responses

  1. Versus

    Good. But they need to find ways to subvert the ad-blockers, and then charge enough in ad revenue that they can pay a reasonable minimum per stream.

    And YouTube still needs to do a lot more to clean up its act:
    Remove unauthorized uploads with a “take down, stay down” approach.
    Delete users who attempt to defeat ContentID.
    My wish: Make allowing your music to but used on YouTube at a voluntary “opt in” by the rights-holders. If you don’t opt in, then YouTube should automatically block ALL attempted uploads and uses of the music. Etc.

    • A Developer

      I’m a developer, the real reason is ads profit. Youtube absolutely can control their ads frequency for displaying. I know they use ML (Machine Learning) to control and display ads. If they don’t listen to us (their users) all of us can do a simple thing such as placing invalid clicks on the ads, invalid clicks to report those ads … in the end of the day their ML system will learn invalid patterns, deploy incorrect targeting ads and surely advertisers don’t like invalids clicks, unfocusing ads … sooner or later will leave Youtube ads system then less ads will be shown up for us.

    • Gabriel Marques

      This greedy attitude diminishes the value of video sharing after the 2nd instant pop up ad I`m out. They should focus on charging more from companies if they need it. Another thing I find is that when it first came out it was way cooler and cleaner with a find video search box, screen and play-list.

      Today all the other complicated attributes are a real hassle and contribute to nothing if it were me I would focus on content, and re-creating that simple video surfing experience again without the automatic play option.
      Why should I be forced to watch something I don`t want to?

  2. Lest it be overlooked...

    Versus, would you kindly respond to the following as your insights would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

    Remember in Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc., 62 F.Supp.3d 325 (SDNY 2014) wherein it was noted, among other things, that, “This suit is about copyright in sound recordings, which is a different animal.”

    The court in Flo & Eddie, supra, was referring to “a particular performance of a musical composition (song).”

    If the performance is the expression, and the musical composition is the idea, thus, in the case of a sound recording, “the performance” has merged with “the musical composition.”

    Morrisey v. Proctor & Gamble Co., 379 F.2d 675 (1st Cir. 1967), noted, among other things, that, “if not only one form of expression, at best only a limited number, to permit copyrighting would mean that a party or parties, by copyrighting a mere handful of forms, could exhaust all possibilities of future use of the substance. In such circumstances it does not seem accurate to say that any particular form of expression comes from the subject matter.”

    When the expression (e.g., the performance) and the idea (e.g., the musical composition) are very difficult, if not impossible, to separate they are said to merge.

    See, exempli gratia, US Constitution Article I, Sec. 8, cl. 8; Baker v. Selden, 101 US 99 (1879).

    If the expression and the idea have merged, one with the other, how can there be an exclusive right? Can you separate the so-called “particular” performance from the musical composition in a sound recording?

    If there is no exclusive right, there is no recourse to a DMCA take-down notice much less a “‘take down, stay down,’ approach.”

    Why are the music publishers and record labels complaining? Even assuming arguendo the constitutional validity of the copyright act, copyright attaches to certain forms of expression, that is to say, that which is first fixed in a tangible medium of expression such as paper, wax, vinyl, plastic. Etc. Etc.

    And please do not try to persuade, convince or expect me to believe that Johanne Sebatian Bach or Buddy Holly, for example, first fixed those musical compositions, including any accompanying words, in a tangible medium of expression such as vinyl or plastic. See, e.g., White-Smith Music Publishing Company v. Apollo Company, 209 U.S. 1 (1908).

    As you can very well imagine, this is but the tip of the iceberg.

  3. Anonymous

    I’ll be jamming out to stair way to heaven on any other music platform thanks Mr Cohen for making this such an easy decision where I should spend my time listening to my music, so I don’t have to deal with money grabbing dick heads like you.

    • Anonymous

      So instead of enhancing the product, the company goes as far as disrupting there consumers and over burdening them with annoying ads in hopes to get them to pay.

      Wow, that’s brilliant, what idiot comes up with this, why not actually market your product properly and do something different, fresh new, that’s how you attract customers. Not by making there time at your establishment an unpleasant experience. That’s how you alienate and leave a negative lasting impression.

  4. MB

    Defo backfired with me anyway. I got so fed up with the ads that i took out a paid subscription with a different steaming provider

  5. zack

    Says the page that just blasted me with 4 ads before I could read the article.

  6. Ronaldtheheadlessthompsongunner

    Youtube not only sucks now, it is actually broken again. A whole bunch of good stuff has just disappeared (historical videos, technical stuff, etc. – not talking about porn or violent stuff – just history stuff related to WW2 – it all appears to have been censored-off, just purged as in Orwell “1984” memory-hole style).

    And I get these idiot messages re. the HTML5 bork – tells me my browser cannot render HTML5, offers a FAQ-link, and when I click it, Youtube tells me “Your Awesome” and that my browser can render all HTML5 stuff fine. Some videos work, most don’t. And entire catagories of material are just censored-off now, gone.

    At least this creates a pretty big niche. Youtube is such a piece of crap now, that a pathway is open for replacement technology. Probably needs to be based outside of Europe and the USA, given censorship and money-suck efforts. Most folks (like me) already pay over $100/mo. for a reasonably high-speed access to the net. Not likely to pay any more per mo., just to watch censored pap, crap and bad music. New models need to be made, and new approaches are needed. Maybe the stinking Google/Apple/Facebook monopoly that is trashing the internet needs to be addressed the same way the big oil trusts were, back 120 years ago. Break the bastards up by legal fiat.

    Bloody Google/Apple/Facebook just reaches right in, grabs everything, and then just breaks every damn thing they touch so that they can monetize everything.
    Seriously, the whole GAF complex operates like an almost perfect monopoly, determined to jack everyone for every last nickel, and rig-wrecking the current
    technical platforms, so every 6 months, you are supposed to up-f*cking-grade.

    It has become obnoxious & nasty bullsh/t, and these folkers need to be taken appart like the Standard Oil trust was.
    Funny. The only two videos from Youtube that still work on my equipment, are the 1976 clip of “Howard Beal”, the mad newsman on that 1976 movie “Network”, screaming “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” That, and a modern Japanese rendition of a WW2 German military marching song.

    Nicely done, “Youtube” doofus-boys. You’ve got the sound-track to your own dismemberment by the anti-trust authorities.
    Don’t expect anyone to miss you, as you are shredded by Washington wolves.
    BTW, what is “Bitchute”? Guess I have to check on DuckDuckGO, since I can’t trust the filtered/censored search results that Google now provides…

  7. People Aren't Stupid

    Youtube has become entirely unusable.

    I don’t recall “annoying your consumers” to ever be a successful business initiative, but YouTube are now so desparate for silver, that they’re enforcing this idiocy.

    Users are not going to pay for an outdated, broken, system with videos so carefully modified to meet YouTube’s personal and political opinions.

    They should view increased ads as a price hike. If your local supermarket increases the cost of everything, you’ll look for alternatives.

    In the modern day and age, there are many alternatives.

    • Elliander Eldridge

      Considering that Google was incapable of running its own video platform and had to buy YouTube it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they would be that stupid.

  8. Does it matter?

    Some things will never be able to be monetized much. The media industry like youtube will have to find additional ways to entice users to pay. Example Amazon Prime, netflix etc. Google is a bubble. They have become the Walmart of the internet most people shop there because they have maintain a budget, but they resent it because we know people in China are exploited for labor, and Americans are deprived of jobs. But the first time an alternative is available, people will flock to it. Nothing my friends, nothing is too big to fail, and nothing lasts forever. Even the mighty Facebook wanes these days….

    I detest commercial advertising because it represents brainwashing, conditioning, and social engineering. I do not watch tv for example, because I can think for myself. But I digress.

    Flooding ads on youtube will likely backfire. Especially if a viable alternative is available. What was nice about youtube was that it was very grass roots. Shame really.

  9. Elliander Eldridge

    This strategy will also backfire on their advertising partners. When an ad is used to intentionally annoy a negative association is made with the product. Why would I advertise on a platform that will just blast the same person with the ad hundreds of times when I want maximum exposure? When I get the same ad hundreds of times for a product I stop buying it because the very thought of the product annoys me.

  10. Caz in Ringgold, VA

    I hope they lose the viewers they had. They lost me, that’s for sure.

  11. anonymous

    F*ck Youtube. It should be free, the ads are bull. I hope youtube shuts down and burns in hell . Enough with the fucking ads and NO I AM NOT PAYING

  12. Anonymous

    Fucking YouTube, those fucking fucks and their brainwashing ads

  13. Witch On Parade

    I can promise you I won’t pay. Free Pandora is way less annoying.

  14. Anonymous

    And they wonder why I download videos? They play so many intrusive ads that videos are not watchable, and they hog resources. The chats also hog so many resources that it prevents the video from playing well for more than a minute. And, their cookies frequently play havoc with my computer, forcing me to hard-reboot my computer. They want me to use their browser, which I call Google Arsenic Spyware instead of Chrome.

    Now, I just download videos I might later wish to watch, against the day when they disappear (or the whole Internet), and store them on a USB stick. No ads from Google, no supporting Google. And no, I will not use Google ARSENIC Spyware Browser. IE11 is better–even Netscape is better than that bloated malware of a browser. I have even switched from Google to Bing for search engine, because I do not want computer freezes followed by hounding to get Google Arsenic Malware Browser every time I do a search.

  15. Umbreon

    He sounds like an arrogant young master from a CN LOL