YouTube’s head of music announces music subscription service… again

YouTube have been discussing a music subscription service for years and Lyor Cohen just re-announced it’s existence saying, “we know we’re late to the party”.

At SXSW this weekend YouTube’s global head of music Lyor Cohen spoke about what YouTube have planned for their music subscription. Cohen says that YouTube’s music service, when it comes into existence, will combine “the best of Google Play Music’s context server” and YouTube’s “breadth and depth of catalogue”.

Whilst many thought YouTube would fully announce the service at SXSW, Google denied that that was ever the case. Cohen instead spoke on what he’s learned during his time in the industry and how they’ll be integrating what he’s learnt into YouTube’s eventual music service. Though he’s self aware that YouTube have delayed their music service for a long time now, saying: “We know we’re late to the party. It’s okay.”

Whilst details are still scarce on the service, Cohen does say: “I’m focused on bringing diversity to distribution; and we’ll do that by adding a subscription business on top of YouTube’s already growing advertising business.” This will be music to artists’ ears after YouTube have long featured music on their giant video platform but with considerably lower streaming rates than other streaming services.

It will be interesting to see how YouTube separate their music service from YouTube Red and Google Play Music, or if they decide to combine them as Cohen said he would last year before going silent again. Both are linked together into on service, where YouTube Red is available, and offers a full music streaming service like Spotify alongside ad-free videos which supposedly pay out better than ad-funded viewing.

Cohen believes that the power of recommendations will set their service apart, saying: “Did you know that 80 percent of all of watch time on YouTube is recommended by a recommendation engine? I didn’t think that was the case when I first joined, but I now know it to be true. Now we’re layering in a programming division solely focused on building and growing the playlist ecosystem that users would love across both paid and ad-supported.”

Cohen says that the two types of consumption can live side-by-side, saying: “The industry is going to return and grow by ads and subscriptions. There are plenty of leaned-in listeners that are willing to pay. We are going to convert them to paid subscribers. We’re making an enormous investment to launch a product that you will be proud of.”

Let’s find out when you actually launch it, Cohen.

Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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