Up Against Spotify and Apple Music, YouTube Launches a Musical App

Faced with Spotify and Apple Music, YouTube answers back. On Thursday, Nov. 12, the popular online video source launched its first application entirely dedicated to music. Named YouTube Music, the app is free, but a paid version allows one to remove all of the ads. It is available only in the United States for Android and iOS, Google and Apple’s mobile user systems. There is no word yet of a possible release in other countries.

A Billion Users

The Google affiliate claims a catalog of around 50 million titles (video clips or audio tracks) from well-known singers, independent artists and also amateurs trying to break into the big time — a feature which sets it apart from other services. In recent years the platform has launched careers for the likes of Justin Bieber and Katy Perry. Artists will be compensated for each listen. YouTube hasn’t said precisely how much it will compensate its artists.

It’s not the first time that Google is attempting to break into streaming music (listening without downloading). The Mountain View company already has Google Play Music, a listening service similar to Spotify. But it is having difficulty establishing itself. YouTube could count on the renown of its name and a base of more than one billion users. According to a study by Edison Research, 60 percent of them listen to music on the platform; the proportion jumps to 90 percent for 12-24 year olds.

The numbers tell it all. Posted on YouTube in July 2012, the song Gangnam Style, by South Korean Psy, has amassed nearly 2.5 billion views, a record. Ten other clips have passed the billion mark. In three weeks, singer Adele’s video for her latest song was watched nearly 350 million times. Since its launch, the service has paid out “over $3 billion to the record industry” assures T. Jay Fowler, director of development.

Similar to Spotify, YouTube Music also offers a paying option, priced at $9.99 a month. Besides zero ads, it offers several benefits for users, notably to listen to music offline. It is also possible to play the app in the background, so that one can use a different app simultaneously. Lastly, a button allows one to move between audio stream and video stream without stopping, so as to limit data usage.

The paying option is part of the subscription to YouTube Red, introduced by the company last month. Its benefits also apply to the main YouTube application and its derivatives (Kids, Gaming). The paid version of Play Music is also included in the charge of $10 a month. By adding a new service, Google now hopes to convince Internet users to pay to watch videos online; a difficult task since they are used to watching them for free.

Red offers “an additional source of revenue” from YouTube, remarks Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer. Until now, revenue derived entirely from advertisements. According to the Wall Street Journal, its revenue, speculatively, would have amounted to to $4.4 billion in 2014. For now, the company is trying everything to balance its accounts. To ameliorate the situation, last year Google chose to replace the boss of its affiliate with Susan Wojcicki, one of its own employees.

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