I read about it in Slashgear, which sourced it from The Verge, which was all in a tizzy over an article in Variety. That industry rag posted a long piece on YouTube last week which is well worth your time to read, and includes this little part that has certain bloggers all excited:
On a separate track, YouTube is exploring the prospect of launching its own subscription VOD service, modeled on YouTube Music Key. Launched last fall in a closed beta test, Music Key provides unlimited, ad-free access to music videos and some 30 million songs on Google Play Music, for a six-month introductory price of $7.99 per month.
An exec at one YouTube partner says reps from the vidsite reached out late last year about an SVOD licensing deal. But the offer came with a warning: If the partner didn’t agree to the terms of the subscription service, it would be excluded from any future ad revenue — a tactic YouTube has used in dealing with independent music companies that refused to get onboard with Music Key. YouTube declined to comment on its SVOD plans.
That sounds an awful lot like the reports which came out last summer about YouTube pressuring musicians into signing up for a paid music service. YouTube used similar threats to encourage participation, but just to be clear, what first appeared to be blackmail or bullying turned out to be far less evil once the details were parsed out and explained.
Rather than expelling artists from YouTube, the hosting service was merely insisting on an all or nothing monetization decision. Artists who earned money from ads on their videos had to agree to joining the subscription service or they couldn't keep using the ads.
And as we all know, the drive to sign artists to the streaming music service lead to the launch of YouTube Music Pass last November. That service launched into a limited beta close to a year after the first leaks said it was on the way.
I think it's safe to conclude that YouTube is planning to expand or compliment Music Pass with a similar video service.
YouTube already sells and rents movies (making it an iTunes competitor) and it would make sense for YouTube to also build a streaming service based on the videos it hosts.
The only remaining question is when will the service launch. I'd bet that we'll see the beta release some time this year.
image by jonsson