Analysis

YouTube Red subscription service will come with music


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YouTube has confirmed the details for its general subscription service, YouTube Red, which launches in the US later this month before rolling out globally.

It will cost $9.99 a month, with subscribers able to watch YouTube without ads; save videos to watch offline on their mobile devices; and play music videos in the background. YouTube Red will also include a subscription to the audio-only Google Play Music streaming service. So yes, this is a direct replacement for YouTube Music Key following that service’s extended beta test.

Rather than relying purely on music to persuade people to pay for a subscription, YouTube will be tempting them with a host of original, exclusive shows from some of its most popular creators: a survival-horror series from PewDiePie; a comedy satirising music TV talent shows from The Fine Brothers; and other projects involving YouTubers Lilly Singh, Joey Graceffa and Toby Turner.

However, YouTube Red’s launch will be accompanied by the debut of a standalone YouTube Music app for both free users and paying Red subscribers. Akin to its recently-launched apps for YouTube Kids and YouTube Gaming, it will focus purely on the music on the service.

In short, music remains a vertical worth its own app, but the paid subscription is now more general, based on feedback from the Music Key beta. “The most common and most frequent point of confusion was why this set of features didn’t work across YouTube,” exec Robert Kyncl told The Verge.

More details: while YouTube Red costs $9.99 a month, it will cost $12.99 for anyone paying via iOS in-app subscriptions, to factor in Apple’s 30% cut. There may also be controversy in store once the new service launches, with YouTube having told creators who don’t sign up to be part of Red – music and non-music alike – that their videos will be hidden on its free service too.

We’ll also be intrigued to see how YouTube Red’s revenue-sharing model – based on dividing a pool of subscription revenue between creators by their watch-time – works for musicians and music rightsholders, especially given that Google Play Music is bundled in.

Stuart Dredge

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