Music videos continue to be the most popular video category on YouTube, accounting for 32% of views on the platform. This, at least, is the estimate published by research firm Midia Research in its latest State of the YouTube Music Economy report.
As ever with this kind of study, it will provide encouragement and ammunition both for critics of YouTube’s role in the music industry, and for its supporters.
The report is bullish on YouTube’s scale. “With young consumers abandoning radio in favour of streaming, YouTube is the biggest winner among Gen Z and Millennials,” explained Midia in a blog post. “Penetration for YouTube music viewing peaks at 73% among 16–19 year olds in Brazil. But its reach is even wider: YouTube is the main way that all consumers aged 16 to 44 discover music.”
It also notes that videos with more than a billion views now average just 121 days to reach that milestone, compared to 462 days for those released in 2015 – this is a reflection of the overall growth of YouTube as much as music specifically. The report also offers some stats on value, suggesting that music’s 32% of views generates around 21% of revenue on YouTube: around $3bn in 2017 by Midia’s calculations.
YouTube continues to get regularly dinged by music-industry bodies for its per-stream royalties, but the report unpicks some of the nuances behind that, as music videos from Latin America and India (where advertising rates are unsurprisingly lower than in the bigger western music markets) continue to surge on YouTube.
“The net result is that effective per stream rates are going down on a global basis, but are going up in developed markets like the US, where the digital ad market is robust.”