YouTube could be considered one of the top 4 streaming platforms for music in the modern age – alongside Spotify, Soundcloud and Apple Music – but it’s the only one of the group that doesn’t have a paid subscription service for music.
Sure, Google parent-company Alphabet has tried before. Google introduced audio-only streaming service Google Play Music in 2011, followed by YouTube Music Key in 2014, giving subscribers ad-free music videos. That then morphed into YouTube Red in 2016, letting users watch any video without advertising. None of these services has created more than a fine blip on the general consciousness of the music-listening demographic.
And yet, YouTube itself attracts more than a billion users per month, with tens and hundreds of millions of plays on some tracks, and major labels say they’re not being compensated enough.
In order to break into the subscription service game at this stage, YouTube requires the cooperation of the three major labels – Warner, Universal, and Sony. According to an undisclosed source speaking to Bloomberg, Warner is already on board. YouTube will still need the assistance of Universal and Sony, both of which have a stake in Vevo, as it’s a major distribution hub for music videos (which YouTube also plans to place on the streaming service).
The service is internally being referred to as Remix, though this name isn’t set in stone, and is purportedly aiming to launch in March 2018. Whether YouTube/Google will clear all hurdles before that fast-approaching deadline remains to be seen.