YouTube has confirmed that it plans to introduce, sometime later this year, a subscription-based service, joining in the ranks of many other companies.
This all sounds great, because YouTube has plenty of visitors and it’s the third most popular website in the world, according to Alexa, which means that it’s an almost guaranteed success.
In the past few years, people have expressed their interest to pay for music in this new manner since no one buys CDs anymore since the digital age has rendered them useless. Online sales are the ones that help artists and labels assess the popularity of a musical product, nowadays, and nothing’s going to change this.
Everything sounds great, but things aren’t really so, mainly because of the way things are going to change in the coming months.
The issue stems from the fact that the company has been negotiating with labels for months now, offering them royalties per view. Since rumor has it that YouTube has been feeling more like the Grinch rather than Santa Claus and has been offering really low rates, a lot of labels have been resisting.
YouTube’s reasoning for setting low prices likely has something to do with the success that the company expects the product to have. Let’s say that it is offering labels half the royalties that Spotify is. Assuming that YouTube could attract hundreds of millions of paying customers, compared to the 10 million that Spotify has, the company is likely to pay labels considerably more money.
Regardless, the company hasn’t managed to reach a deal with several indie labels, which are hoping to obtain more from YouTube. Unfortunately, this will translate into not having access to the content produced by them on the subscription-based service or on regular old YouTube.
Why? Because YouTube argues that it can’t possibly offer music on the free site without also having it available on the subscription service because those who decide to pay for it will be disappointed.
From the company’s point of view, this makes perfect sense and we can’t fault them for that, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that this is also a pressuring technique for those indie labels that have refused to join in.
From a user’s point of view, however, this is terrible. It means that plenty of official accounts could disappear. I personally like Radiohead, and Adele’s voice is lovely and I’m sure I like plenty of other bands and artists that are signed under labels refusing to deal with YouTube under the proposed terms.
If YouTube follows through with the threat, as it has promised to do, all this music will vanish from the site, even if you are still able to find some copies uploaded by fans (which are more or less legal).
The worst part about this is that YouTube will surely not make the new service available in all countries around the world. Google, YouTube’s parent company, never does this with any of its tools, preferring to roll them out in stages. Just taking a look on the company’s service accessibility page will tell you that certain areas are largely ignored by Google’s services such as Play Music, Play Movies and more.
In the area where I live, most of these are not available and the new YouTube subscription service will likely be off-limits too. Not only will I, and many others, not have access to the new product, but I’ll also be left without plenty of content on YouTube, a site I frequently use to generate background noise as I go about my day.
Introducing the new service will be a nightmare for a lot of people, even though others will certainly enjoy it. If YouTube doesn’t make it available everywhere in the world, then a great deal of people will be at a disadvantage. Hopefully, an alternative will be found.