YouTube unveils the long awaited streaming service, Music Key, which will launch Monday in beta-test mode for “a limited group of people who play the most music on YouTube.” Music Key will be available to the public sometime in 2015 at about $10/month. This ad-free service will focus on mobile devices, allowing users to listen to music while using other apps and also watch videos offline.
YouTube has been trying to enter the music streaming market for more than a year, to join other companies like Spotify, Pandora, and Beats Music, to earn subscription fees from listeners. However, they hit a snag in June when reps from top independent record labels accused YouTube of offering significantly less in song-licensing rates than major labels like Sony and Universal. Despite all the trouble, YouTube was able to strike a deal with Merlin, who represent thousands of indie labels.
Christophe Muller, YouTube’s global head of music partnerships says, “We’ve signed deals with every major label and hundreds of indie labels worldwide to make these features available. We didn’t expect this to happen overnight.”
Music Key will not affect the traditional video site, which attracts more than 1 billion users every month. Music Key will group tracks by artist and albums, which is similar to other companies like Rhapsody and iTunes. In addition, users will be able to toggle back and forth to Google Play, where you can purchase the track.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry reported that streaming revenues grew by 51.3%. Since album and track sales have been dropping over the last few years, companies are becoming very competitive in the music-streaming market. The digital era continues to evolve the way we listen to music.