YouTube's long rumoured music streaming service looks like it is one step closer to reality with the news that the Google-owned video website has signed a deal to licence music from thousands of independent record labels.
The deal was brokered with Merlin, the rights agency that represents the indie music labels, and comes after a period plagued with fraught negotiations between Google and record labels, with YouTube threatening to take down certain music videos if its demands weren't met.
It appears YouTube has been laying the groundwork for its streaming service for a while, with the website signing deals with three major record labels already: Universal, Sony and Warner.
The deal with Merlin gives YouTube a licence for 20,000 independent labels including XL Recordings, which represents popular artists like Adele and The xx.
Is this the end of free YouTube?
YouTube is the world's biggest video streaming website and at the moment allows visitors to watch unlimited amounts of videos for free, with many videos including adverts.
According to the Financial Times, sources close to YouTube have suggested that the website will begin rolling out a paid tier option, which will give visitors the option of paying a monthly fee to watch videos without adverts. It will allegedly also allow people to download music for offline listening, and best of all, it will arrive in a matter of "weeks".
YouTube's move to include a paid tier would likely affect its relationship with music labels, which often post music videos of its artists in a bid to promote their music. YouTube's move to acquire licences for its streaming service with the music labels may be a way to placate them.
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Via the Financial Times