Analysis

YouTube Music Pass: details leak of YouTube’s music subscription service


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YouTube has been dead-batting questions about its plans for a subscription music service for several months now: an announcement was expected at its YouTube Music Awards, but the event came and went without any news.

Now details appear to be leaking out. Android Police has the scoop, after digging into the innards of the latest YouTube Android app update.

It’s found references to something called Music Pass, whose bullet-point features include: “Offline playback: take your music everywhere. Background listening: keep your music playing while using other apps. Uninterrupted music: no ads on millions of songs.”

That sounds like a subscription music service to us. YouTube’s parent company Google already has one of those, of course: Google Play Music All Access, which launched earlier this year. But with music such a central component of YouTube already, big things are expected of a YouTube-branded service.

The most recent speculation about what we’ll now presumably call YouTube Music Pass came in late October, when Billboard claimed the service would be “akin to a Spotify, but with video”, with an emphasis on mobile listening, and a choice of free and ad-supported or subscription-based – with the latter supporting offline listening.

Separately, YouTube has already announced plans to allow its mobile users to cache videos locally on their phones for up to 48 hours. That’s due to launch this month (Android Police also found references to that in the latest YouTube Android app’s code), although many music videos won’t support the new feature, after Vevo – which powers many of the biggest music channels on YouTube – confirmed it would exercise its right to block it.

Still, YouTube Music Pass. Its launch is surely imminent, but it remains to be seen how it’ll be priced, and whether it catches on – particularly with the teens and early twentysomethings who are already using YouTube (for free) as their default streaming music service.

Stuart Dredge

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