Earlier this week, YouTube launched its much awaited Music app, in the US. This is intended to cement the stronghold which the popular video streaming site has over the younger online age groups and to seriously enter the music streaming market. YouTube has been quietly, incredibly popular among younger audiences for consuming music, especially over the likes of Apple Music which is much more premium and Google Music which is too poorly promoted.
Youtube poses a huge challenge however, to music streaming’s biggest platforms; Apple and Spotify. This is especially true while both suffer with some fairly major problems. Apple, firstly has failed to retain most of the free trial subscribers it got on board. While you can point to the figures of platform vs platform, per user, it’s a pretty bad result given this was a big launch, with the app being automatically added to every iPhone. Spotify has another problem, people are not signing up to premium as much they need to be. The result is that Spotify has to work much harder to sell as space to reach its younger audience who are seemingly unwilling to pay.
Music is an attempt, by Google to do two things. Firstly, to capitalise on the youth market which they have been incredibly successful in doing to date. Secondly, and more urgently it is to monetise YouTube. Famously loss making since its purchase, YouTube has been a long term investment for Google, and this is now coming into fruition with YouTube Red, of which music is a part.
But what makes YouTube music different? Well, it’s been growing a lot of channels over time, to the point at which many are now commercial businesses with loyal audiences. Those audiences it now feels would pay the monthly fee to be ad-free and get special content and features. Google also has a lot of information about the people who use YouTube, that’s allowed them to create curated playlists through a mixture of human oversight and machine learning. It’s something that Apple struggle with because of their stance on user data collection, Spotify also have no way to gather this information.
Human and machine curation is an interesting approach, Google is using the raft of information about each user to get as much insight as possible, but much like Facebook M, a human go-between ads common sense and context to everything
YouTube music won’t allow you to create playlists like Spotify does though, it focuses in on core feature that the end user wants, the belief (and possibly correct assumption) is that the average person doesn’t want to create playlists, they want to consume content. YouTube allows you not just to listen to music, but to save video content offline to watch wherever you might not have connection. While it has the same 30million odd tracks that the other services have, it also has videos, concerts and a host of other content.
Most importantly, YouTube has done what Apple actually does best. It played the long game and now aims to enter an industry to disrupt it. It has the information, the data and the loyalty to just get away with is
YouTube Red, and YouTube Music are currently available in the US, and should be coming to Europe soon.