Three separate stories this morning come together into a strand illustrating 2018’s status as a continued landgrab for new music-streaming subscribers. YouTube is finally readying a global push for its YouTube Red tier; Apple Music is launching its student membership plan much more widely across the world; and Spotify is offering lovebirds a Valentine’s-themed two-month free trial of its Premium tier.
Details are still relatively thin on the first of those: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said at the Code Media conference yesterday that the service will expand Red “to many more countries” in 2018. “We’re only in five countries now. Now that we’ve finished all of our music deals, we’re going to be expanding to a large number of countries… Many, like, I don’t know, a hundred.”
It was interesting how Wojcicki described the subscription tier too. “YouTube Red is a service that is really a music service: we have an amazing collection of music, we have all these music videos, and then on top of that it has the ability to watch all of YouTube ad-free, with the background and offline services. And then on top of that we have the YouTube Originals.” Music remains the core.
Apple Music, meanwhile, is expanding its student membership: the $4.99-a-month option that debuted in the UK will launch in 82 additional countries this month, starting with 79 this week – among them Israel, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal and Taiwan according to 9 to 5 Mac. It’s the latest reminder that despite periodic calls within the music/tech world for ‘more mid-priced subscriptions’, we do already have them in the form of student and family plans. It’s also a reminder of Apple Music’s global scale: rival Spotify is available in 61 countries as a comparison.
But talking of Spotify: it has launched its latest premium-trial offer, encouraging its free users to “cozy up with free premium: Lose the ads this Valentine’s Day. Get 60 days of Premium for free”. It’s only available to users who’ve not tried Spotify’s premium tier before, and will revert to a $/£/€9.99-a-month subscription after the 60 days. Offers like this are another form of expansion: not global, but trying to convert more free listeners to paying subscribers in western markets which are still not close to reaching a saturation point as the various music-streaming services compete. An added benefit, of course, is a potential boost to subscriber numbers around the time Spotify debuts as a public company.