YouTube's new service boasts video edge
SAN BRUNO, CALIFORNIA
YOUTUBE on Wednesday finally revealed a streaming music service set to compete with the likes of Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and Amazon.
Streaming music is a hot space right now, and companies are competing aggressively to negotiate contracts with artists and record labels.
YouTube hasn't released any information on how the service will pay artists, but the Financial Times reported on Tuesday that an agreement to share ad revenue was part of a deal its owner, Google, struck with independent record label rights agency Merlin. Whether that's enough to shield YouTube from Taylor Swift-like outrage from artists remains to be seen.
But for the average person, here's a breakdown of what YouTube Music Key is and how it stacks up against the competition.
WHAT IS IT?
When most people think of music and YouTube, they probably think about music videos. So it's probably no surprise that videos are a big part of YouTube Music Key.
For one thing, subscribers will be able to watch music videos ad-free. You'll also be able to play music videos if you use another app, or play music if you're not connected to the Internet. As part of the subscription, you'll also get access to Google Play Music's subscription service. That gives you access to "expert-curated playlists" that the service offers via Songza.
WHEN WOULD I USE IT?
There's certainly a more social element to YouTube Music Key than you'd necessarily see from other streaming services. The fact that you're watching music videos, for example, automatically makes it a good candidate for party mixes, where you might want something playing on the television set in the background.
The option to listen to music offline, though, also means that you could use it when you go on runs or when you're just out and about.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
The ad-free service will cost US$7.99 (S$10.30) per month - US$2 cheaper than other subscription services such as Spotify, Pandora and its in-house rival, Google Play Music All Access.
That is, at least, until the end of an unspecified promotional period, when it will cost US$9.99 per month, just like the other services.
Right now, the service is in beta - and therefore invite-only - but users can sign up to join at youtube.com/musickey. An invitation comes with six months' free service.
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO OTHER STREAMING SERVICES?
That remains to be seen, at least in terms of what kinds of songs you'll have ad-free access to. In terms of its catalogue, YouTube hasn't released much details. Google Play Music has a catalogue of more than 30 million songs. Spotify boasts more than 20 million.
Google hasn't officially announced any partners. Previous reports have indicated that YouTube has signed deals with the three major labels - Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group - plus the group of independent labels that work with Merlin.
The video component gives Music Key an interesting twist, not only because of the visual element, but also because it will be able to introduce you to interesting cover versions of songs, parodies, responses and more.
WHAT IF I DON'T WANT TO SUBSCRIBE TO ANYTHING?
Even if you don't want to pay Google a monthly fee, the way music is displayed on YouTube will change for everyone. YouTube will be adding a "Music" tab to its site navigation that will show music videos, recommended and trending playlists, plus featured songs that pop up on any channels to which you may subscribe.
You'll also be able to see information on artists' discographies on YouTube and, in some cases, play full albums.