YouTube is preparing to launch a new version of its music service and, at the same time, is preparing to charge more to see originals that show a "Karate Kid" spinoff.
Background: Two years ago YouTube launched YouTube Red, a service that provided subscribers with an on-demand music service, more or less similar to Spotify or Apple Music, and access to the original programming created just for the service. YouTube Red also removed ads from the world's largest video service.
All that costs $ 10. But now that's changing.
Next week, YouTube will launch YouTube Music, a revamped version of its existing music service that is functionally the same, but comes with additional bells and whistles as personalized playlists based on its YouTube history and other usage patterns .
That service, which is supposed to launch on Tuesday, will cost $ 10 a month after a trial period. (That same service will also replace Google Play Music, a rival music service that Google has inexplicably operated while trying to make YouTube Music take off).
YouTube now intends to charge $ 2 more for the other parts of YouTube Red, which will be renamed YouTube Premium, but will require also to pay for YouTube Music.
That is: if you want to see ads without ads, original YouTube programs like "Cobra Kai", which seems to have a little bit of expectation and four million visits, now you will have to pay $ 12 per month, instead of $ 10 a month.
More details: $ 10 a month YouTube Music removes ads from music videos, but not from the rest of YouTube. It also allows you to download music to listen to offline and play music in the background while you do other things. The $ 12 monthly YouTube Premium removes ads from all YouTube, as YouTube Red used to do.
Would you like that in graphic form? OK:
This makes sense for a couple of reasons:
- YouTube has always thought of YouTube Red as a music subscription service, even though it did not use to say that in public. YouTube Music was built largely to placate record labels who complained that YouTube's free advertising service did not generate enough revenue for them. YouTube executive director Susan Wojcicki even referred to YouTube Red as a music service at Recode's Code Media conference in February, which seemed unnoticed at the time, but now has much more sense.
- While YouTube generates a huge amount of money, and is owned by Google, which generates an incredible amount of money, the company has not been spending sums like Netflix or Amazon in its original programming that appeared on YouTube Red. But maybe this will make it easier for YouTube and Google executives to decide how valuable "Cobra Kai" and other programs are: they can see who wants to pay them for a music service similar to Spotify, and who wants to see YouTube originals and upload them as appropriate. And maybe that gives them confidence to spend more.
YouTube is likely to publish something official about all this soon. The company had planned its release next Tuesday, but is struggling to catch up after commentator Bob Lefsetz posted his thoughts on the service after watching a demo of Lyor Cohen, YouTube's ambassador in the music business.