YouTube

YouTube’s (rumored) music service on hold

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 11:00am

But probably not for long. Keep in mind that everything written about YouTube’s entry into the subscription-music market is rumor, based on undisclosed sources. The latest twist: AllThingsD reports the rumored service will not meet its rumored launch timeframe (end of year), but is rumored to be planning a 2014 debut.

Despite the Big Question surrounding this speculation, we believe that Google will indeed put YouTube into play against Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, and other online jukebox platforms. What is the Big Question? This: Where is the added value to justify a subscription? YouTube is already the dominant listening service for teens, absolutely free of charge, easily shareable, robustly social, astonishing in scope, and rapidly expanding every day. 

But despite the odd fact that YouTube is already in the market, and dominating portions of it, Google probably perceives a business imperative to formalize the service and capture some portion of its roughly one-billion users as paying customers.

According to AllThingsD sources, the delay (in a timeline not acknowledged by the company) is due to product development complications, and not due to content licensing complications. Google already has relationships with music owners on both the YouTube and All Access sides of its music business. 

Google leak fortifies rumor of a YouTube music service

Monday, December 2, 2013 - 12:15pm

Although we and most other observers have been presuming an imminent YouTube music service to be ordained fact, it is merely a widely-reported rumor. That rumor got a strengthened spine when the Android Police website performed a “teardown” (examination of code) on the latest version of YouTube’s Android app.

Scrutinizing code can sometimes reveal placeholders of functions planned for the future, but not yet implemented. To code-savvy snoopers, those strings are like Easter eggs. In this case, they offer scant but intriguing glimpses that could match up to the rumored music service. 

The findings:

  • A name: Music Pass;
  • A reference to offline playback, a feature usually associated with subscription listening platforms;
  • A feature referenced as “background listening,” which doesn’t make much sense in a video service, but is perfectly sensible for a music service;
  • A feature called “Uninterrupted music,” with this marketing string: “No ads on millions of songs.”

Android Police also found graphic icons associated with the placeholder features.

In light of these revelations, we continue to presume that Google is readying a music subscription service on its YouTube platform, and our core question holds firm. What added value will Google bring to the service which might persuade YouTube users to pay for a platform which is already free, opulently stocked with music, and the go-to source of listening for teens? We need more Easter eggs to answer that question.

Listn gets funded for social music listening

Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 11:50am

Listn is a music app owned by MFive Labs that expands the social possibilities of music listening by connecting people, and their music collections, across platforms and services. The company received $500-thousand in seed funding this week, giving it a foothold for future growth.

The presumption is that many people use more than one music service, or have more than one collection source -- for example an iTunes collector might also have a YouTube account and be registered at Spotify. Listn solves the “walled garden” problem by providing an encompassing space in which to share content from multiple sources, and develop a social network that likewise crosses boundaries.

Currently, Listn has connection agreements with YouTube, Spotify, Rdio, and SoundCloud. An Apple-only app presently, Listn also soaks up information about your iPod or iPhone collection purchased from iTunes, adding those tracks to YouTube favorites, and your music associated with membership in the other services.

Listn provides a twofold benefit. First, the user doesn’t have to hop from one app to another -- one’s entire macro-collection is presented in a single location. Second, the realm of social sharing and following is greatly expanded. In Listn you meet new people and are exposed to more facets of a person’s music life.

That second point has yet to be fully proved out, in our opinion. Listn provides an interesting way to meet new people, but does not transfer social relationships from connected music service, as it does with music. So, while you can listen to your Spotify tracks in Listn, you cannot listen to your Spotify friends’ playlists unless those friends pile into the Listn app. A socially active subscriber to Spotify, for example, would probably fall back to Spotify where his or her friends are.

Listn’s core mission is reminiscent of the Instant Message startups which pulled that form of communication out of the early web services (CompuServe, Genie, Prodigy, AOL), and unleashed it to the open web in the mid-1990s. That transition can be difficult, when users are reluctant to jump off their islands into the ocean. But the idea behind Listn is solid. People who use multiple music services are forced to engage with separate social schemes. The social aspect of online listening would be more useful and enjoyable if it were more open.

YouTube Music Awards: The Fox is in the Henhouse

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 11:50am

This is a guest column by Jennifer Lane, first published at Audio4cast.

Speaking of seismic shifts, YouTube held it’s own music awards on Sunday, and if buzz factor is any measure of success (it is, of course), then it was a big one. Lots of people were talking about the awards, Produced by Spike Jonze, the awards were designed to be edgy, spontaneous, even strange – and definitely the opposite of the highly staged awards shows that we see on television.

By all accounts, it was a celebration of “the democratizing nature of YouTube”, with artists like Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis who became famous as a result of their hit song video on YouTube that they made for $5000 bucks with some friends. Even big record label made artist Taylor Swift got an award for her song “I knew your were trouble”, which incited more fan videos than any other.

Disruption folks, that’s the story that is being told live on YouTube, as evidenced by these awards. It’s not actually news, since YouTube’s been streaming more songs than any other platform in the land for a long time. YouTube is the place where the hip and trendy get their new music. Have you heard the song “What Does the Fox Say?” It’s a new phenom from YouTube that my daughter and her roommate played for me when we visited on parents’ weekend a few weeks ago. It’s a Norwegian viral video that’s got almost a billion views on YouTube since early September. Meanwhile, Katy Perry’s new album sold less than 300,000 copies in its first week. Not an apples to apples comparison, but certainly one that lends perspective.

If you haven’t watched these awards, and this YouTube culture thing is news to you, I highly recommend that you take a look. It’s a new world order, driven by platforms that put consumers in the drivers seat.

Meanwhile, according to Tom Taylor’s newsletter this morning, YouTube spent so much money on radio stations last week promoting its awards show that it was a top 20 advertiser….

YouTube continues search for new music identity with awards show

Monday, November 4, 2013 - 1:10pm

The YouTube Music Awards played last night with an anti-TV programming sensibility, to a small anti-TV audience. A reported peak concurrent audience of 220,000 individuals streamed the event. Total viewership finalized to 873,000 people, according to the live page. The thumbs up/down voting system registered 79 percent positive response.

The live audience represented less than one tenth of one percent of YouTube’s claimed 1-billion users.

YouTube is authoritatively rumored to be ramping up a music service that would formalize the platform’s unofficial status as the most-used online listening platform. Hosting a music awards spectacle makes sense in the double context of a music streaming site, and a social network. The relative lack of interest among users might reflect the futility of emulating old-media formats in new-media services. Despite the implications of YouTube’s name (a new kind of television “tube”), the platform’s core competency is facilitating and organizing user-uploaded content, not imitating TV shows.

Questions about the purported music service loom, the largest being how Google will add value to a platform which already has immense value built into it. (See RAIN’s analysis here.) YouTube’s runaway success has perhaps sent it running in directions unforeseen when Google acquired the thing in 2006. If the Music Awards show was a fun stab in the dark, well and good. But as a test of making YouTube something it is essentially not, the YouTube Music Awards didn’t seem to work. 

SoundCloud reaches 250-million listeners

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 12:10pm

While Pandora’s “active listener” metric hovers around 73-million (72.7M reported in September), and iTunes Radio brags of attracting 20-million unique users in its first month, SoundCloud is quietly rolling up an impressive user base. TechCrunch reports from its Disrupt Europe conference that the audio-upload site now hosts 250-million “monthly active listeners.”

SoundCloud was founded in 2008 as a storage service and collaboration platform for music producers. In early days, the founders compared SoundCloud to Flickr, the photo-sharing site. Today, it makes sense to compare SoundCloud to YouTube. As Google reportedly prepares a formalized YouTube music service, it is interesting to see SoundCloud’s user-generated content approach as an audio-only parallel to YouTube.

Soundcloud has long offered subscription plans, but geared to creators who upload audio, not to listeners. All listening and organizing of music on SoundCloud is free, unlimited, and without advertising. Revenue comes entirely from subscriptions. Paid accounts are for creators, who pay for additional space for uploading and enhanced statistics. In this way SoundCloud historically has been focused on delivering premium value to the creator side of its user base.

Last December SoundCloud launched a redesigned site with listener-friendly features and a clear intent to build up the listener side. The site’s content is far-reaching (again, like YouTube), ranging from the rawest of amateur uploads to well-known artists sharing clips, full releases, outtakes, and live audio. It all adds up to a fascinating and engaging landscape for the inquisitive, lean-in user. Some lean-back functionality was added in the redesign, too, keeping the music flowing radio-style.

The repositioning of SoundCloud as a music listening service seems to be working from the vantage of growing audience, which has grown from 200-million to 250-million since July.

Syndicate content