A report by Bank Of America analyst Justin Post has valued YouTube at $70bn. It adds that the video site’s revenues will grow by 34% to $8.2bn this year, charging ahead to $13bn by 2017.
To put that in context, the entire value of the global recorded music industry last year was $15bn. Plus, of course, YouTube’s valuation is small change compared to that of parent company Google, which is valued at $370bn. (Google bought YouTube back in 2006 for $1.65bn.)
YouTube recently marked its 10th anniversary and has had a very complex relationship with the music industry and other content owners. Availing of safe harbour exemptions in the DMCA around UGC, it has become – by some distance – the biggest music service online. While Spotify might have 60m users, YouTube draws over 1bn regular users and studies regularly indicate that music is the biggest draw.
Of course, with tools like Content ID, copyright owners can claim and monetise uploads of their music by other users and can also call for takedowns of uploads. That said, a quick scan of YouTube on any day will deliver pretty much the entire catalogues of The Beatles and AC/DC, famously two acts who have yet to license their music to any streaming service.
The slow roll out of YouTube Music Key is the cause of some teeth grinding in the music industry. Last week it announced it was, after six months out of the blocks, extending its beta testing period until September, making this a somewhat protracted soft launch. The record industry is wondering when it will get a full bells and whistles launch, with the more paranoid among its ranks pondering if this is just a stalling tactic by Google/YouTube amid growing calls for it to increase its remuneration rates.
Ultimately, this latest valuation will only serve to increase the music industry’s frustration over the low per-stream rates the service pays out (it pays a fraction of what Spotify pays) and have it channel its inner Jerry Maguire. Show. Me. The. Money.