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YouTube to Launch New Subscription Music Streaming Service Next Year
The service is reportedly aiming for a March launch, but has some hurdles to clear first.
YouTube has plans to release a third paid music service next spring, Billboard has confirmed with sources familiar with the matter.
The new service, reported earlier by Bloomberg, is planned to arrive in March and is currently being referred to internally as Remix. It would include on-demand streaming and incorporate video clips and other elements from YouTube.
If YouTube hopes to hit that March launch date, it will need to lock in deals with labels. While Warner Music Group extended its licensing deal with the platform over the summer (which presumably included this new service in its terms), Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group are still in renegotiations.
YouTube's ad-generated payouts have been a source of scorn in the music industry, with many complaining the website undermines gains made by streaming services' paid subscription models that have been essential in recent revenue growth.
Meanwhile, Google's own attempts at creating successful subscription services have struggled to take off in the past years. Those have included the audio-only Google Play that launched in 2011 and YouTube Music Key in 2014, which became YouTube Red in 2015, allowing users to watch videos without advertisements and stream audio in the background on mobile devices. Those two services were combined earlier this year under the direction of music exec Lyor Cohen, who joined YouTube last fall as the company's global head of music, and count about 5 million paying subscribers combined, sources tell Billboard. It is unclear whether this new project will be a rebranded version of those combined services, or an entirely new entity altogether.
Billboard reached out to YouTube for comment but did not hear back at time of publishing.