Rumours have been circulating in recent weeks that Google is preparing an official YouTube music streaming service to rival Spotify, and it has the backing of two major music labels already despite having yet to be confirmed. Reports indicate that the service would provide an ad-free streaming experience in exchange for a paid subscription. The reports are yet to be confirmed by Google, although they do admit there is interest in such a service from some quarters of the company.
“While we don’t comment on rumor or speculation, there are some content creators that think they would benefit from a subscription revenue stream in addition to ads, so we’re looking at that,” read a statement sent to venturebeat.com.
There is plenty of reason for skepticism though, not least of which is Google’s existing music streaming service in Google Play. It’s possible we might see some integration of the two services.
Furthermore, YouTube already has many features familiar to Spotify users. The ability to create playlists of any video, obviously including music videos, and share them online. Perhaps we’re likely to see further emphasis on these features within the mobile apps, for example.
It’s been suggested that YouTube will simply allow music publishers to offer pay subscriptions for the videos they post on YouTube, to avoid the problem of YouTube offering what is effectively free music. Many people still opt to listen to music through YouTube instead of paid alternatives like Spotify or iTunes, despite the often poor audio quality.
One advantage that YouTube would have over both Spotify and it’s own current music streaming effort is the wealth of user-generated content currently populating YouTube. Amateur covers, mashups etc. have flooded the site in the last few years to accompany the original tracks you can find on other services.
It appears likely that YouTube will be offering some sort of paid extension to its services though, in one way or another. However, further reports from AllThingsD suggest that it won’t be coming this side of Christmas, and it’ll be Q1 2014 at the earliest before we find out exactly what we’re waiting for.
It’s hard to comment on whether it’ll be able to compete with its apparent rivals without actually knowing what’s going to be on offer, but I find it unlikely that simply providing more emphasis on the current streaming abilities of YouTube will be enough to lure people away from the familiar Spotify. But with YouTube having always been a video site, it seems unlikely that the video element will be stripped down entirely, so maybe we’re in for more than just another music streaming service.