YouTube’s relationship with musicians and record labels has sometimes been a rocky one – it’s long been accused of hosting videos that violate copyright and not paying enough for licensing rights. Now it's hoping to mend that relationship with a new ad-free subscription service specifically for music fans – and it’s not afraid to ruffle a few feathers to get them to sign up.
At South by Southwest (SXSW) in Texas, YouTube’s global head of music Lyor Cohen said the site will soon begin playing more ads to people who effectively use it as a free music streaming service, listening to one track after another.
“You’re not going to be happy after you are jamming ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and you get an ad right after that,” he said.
“There’s a lot more people in our funnel that we can frustrate and seduce to become subscribers. Once we do that, trust me, all that noise will be gone and articles people write about that noise will be gone.”
Not YouTube Red
After the interview, YouTube issued a statement to clarify Cohen's comments. “Our top priority at YouTube is to deliver a great user experience, and that includes ensuring users do not encounter excessive ad loads,” it said.
“For a specific subset of users who use YouTube like a paid music service today – and would benefit most from additional features – we may show more ads or promotional prompts to upsell to our paid service.”
The new service will be different to the existing YouTube Red subscription service. For a monthly fee of US$9.99, YouTube Red removes ads, lets users watch YouTube Red Original TV series and movies, allows downloading of videos for offline viewing, and lets mobile users stream music in the background while using other apps. It's currently available in the US, Australia, Korea, Mexico and New Zealand.
YouTube hasn't announced a name for the new service or said whether it will be available in other territories, but it's planning a big marketing push, so we can expect to hear more soon.
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