Rumors are flying this week about the possibility YouTube may launch a subscription-based music streaming service to compete with Spotify before the end of the year.
According to the NYTimes (citing people who were not authorized to discuss the service publicly), the subscription could cost $10 a month and grant access to videos on demand without advertising interruptions. Users would have the option of watching the video or simply listening to the track.
No doubt this new service will be primed for the mobile user, as TechCrunch recently reported YouTube’s mobile traffic was at 40 percent, up significantly from 6 percent in 2011.
Billboard.com speculated the YouTube service might offer "offline cacheing of songs and videos so users can listen on their mobile devices even when they're not connected or when they're trying to save on bandwidth costs or battery consumption."
This is a probable scenario, as YouTube recently announced it would provide offline viewing to its mobile app users starting in November.
Billboard also reported that YouTube would already have all the licenses it needs for a service like this, including from Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group. According to Billboard, the licenses were obtained through Google as it prepared to launch the Google Play Music All Access service earlier this year.
It’s also believed there will be a free component to this potential music video service, which will likely be “unlimited, on-demand access to full tracks on all platforms, including mobile,” Billboard said.
The free version will also likely include ads, which might just be the boost YouTube needs, as comScore reported AOL was on top for ad impressions in September, not YouTube.
If YouTube offers a music streaming service, it wouldn’t be the only move by the video platform to further monetize through subscriptions. YouTube announced this week it will extend its subscription-based channel service to all video creators in good standing, with more than 10,000 subscribers, who meet their location and other qualifying criteria. They began piloting the service in May.
YouTube declined to comment directly on its plans, but said in a statement: "We're always working on new and better ways for people to enjoy YouTube content across all screens, and on giving partners more opportunities to reach their fans. However, we have nothing to announce at this time."