What does YouTube Music Key mean for the future of music streaming?

by Coby Yollis (Online Editor) – 4/13/15

Unofficial mock sketch of a design for YouTube Music Key
Unofficial mock sketch of a design for YouTube Music Key

Music streaming services have become a new medium for our age of digital content, but companies such as Pandora and Spotify are held back by the restriction of their content’s availability, which may give YouTube’s ambitious new service an edge over their competition.

Most companies need to purchase the licenses to all the music they offer for streaming. Some artists refuse to hand over the rights to streaming services because they feel it will take away from their music’s profit. However, many artists are still comfortable with publishing their content on YouTube since the advertisements placed before and during their videos provide a supply of revenue which is widely considered to be a fair amount.

Because of this, YouTube realized they had an immediate advantage because most music is already uploaded to YouTube. When uploading content to YouTube, the terms of service grants partial rights of redistribution to YouTube. This means that as a music provider YouTube would not have to pay any licensing fees and would therefore be capable of delivering a substantially more affordable service to its consumers, as well as a significantly broader selection of music.

The resulting product of this epiphany is currently known as YouTube Music Key, which is currently in the late stages of a relatively open beta testing. Members can stream any music available on YouTube to their mobile devices. Just like with other music streaming services, the music is capable of running in the background while other apps are in use.

Another advantage that YouTube Music Key has over its competition is brand recognition. Just beneath Facebook and Google, YouTube is currently the third most downloaded app across all mobile devices, with over 88 million users. For many, there also would be no registration; YouTube has over a billion active users every month. YouTube Music Key is a monthly subscription based service that works in the regular YouTube app, so there are no extra downloads. Members simply gain access to the extra content and features after subscribing to the service.

YouTube Music Key will cost ten dollars per month, which exactly matches the monthly cost of other popular services Spotify and Beats Music, while coming five dollars above Pandora. Those who have YouTube Music Key will also get a free subscription to the premium version of Google Play, which is separately valued at ten dollars per month.

With a larger music catalog at a low price, YouTube may soon become the most popular choice for music streaming.