More than 1 billion music fans are using YouTube every month and over 2 million artists use it to share their music. With so much traffic and potential revenue, YouTube has been working hard to make its platform more artist-friendly, with the YouTube Artist Channel and with their new YouTube Music service which came out this past June 2018 in Europe. Now with different options to choose from, here is a brief glossary of the current different YouTubes.
- YouTube – The free ad-supported video platform in which you must meet the YouTube Partner Program to monetise your videos, and revenue is made through advertisements and paid subscriber views.
- YouTube Music – This content is available to free users through ad-supported streaming, available ad-free to YouTube premium subscribers, and as a standalone, ad-free subscription service for €/$ 9.99/month with the first month free.
- YouTube Premium – The subscription based, ad-free YouTube experience for €/$11.99/month which let’s users watch without ads, access exclusive content that is only available to subscribers, and get ad-free streaming from YouTube Music.
- YouTube Red – This is now YouTube Premium
- YouTube Remix – This is a rumour predicting that eventually YouTube Music and Google Play will merge into one product.
- Google Play – Google’s music streaming service that offers both ad-supported and subscription based access to high quality audio tracks and the subscription costs €/$ 9.99.
What exactly is the new YouTube Music App?
YouTube is referring to its new service as a reimagined mobile app and brand new desktop player that are designed specifically for music. It functions as a music streaming service, like Spotify or Apple Music but with a twist in the sense that it also functions like social media, where social interaction offers a new kind of bridge between artists and fans. It combines the best of both worlds allowing artist, managers, publishers, songwriters, and labels engage with their fans with no hoops to jump through.
It features thousands of playlists, the official versions of millions of songs, full albums, artist radio, plus YouTube’s tremendous catalog of remixes, live performances, covers and of course official music videos. All of which is simply organised and highly personalised. YouTube Music also pulls together millions of official Art Tracks (videos with high-quality audio and an image of the cover art) which are monetised on a pay-per-stream basis.
What are the unique Features of YouTube Music?
The new YouTube Music app offers to help the user effortlessly discover new music. Through features like the YouTube Music Search which works even if fans don’t know exactly what they are looking for. YouTube will find it if they can describe it (try that hipster song with whistling) or give them some lyrics. It has music-specific filters that regular YouTube doesn’t have, such as “artist” or “song”. It allows users to play music in the background (without keeping a video open) or download for offline listening with the app. Content is organised by artist name, or in playlists with suggested music based on theme, genre, etc. Artists will get their own “topic channel” or be placed in genre-specific “various artist” channels.
The app also features a personalised home screen that dynamically adapts to provide recommendations based on your listening history, where you are, and what you are doing. For instance if you are at the airport the app will recommend something relaxing before the flight, or if you are at the gym it will recommend some beats to get the heart-rate going. And of course thousands of playlists that YouTube Music will customise to fit the moment or mood you are in.
What About Monetisation for Artists?
There is already the regular old YouTube service where it is free to create a channel and publish videos and it’s free to watch them. Channels that meet the YouTube Partner Program Criteria can monetise their videos and revenue is generated through advertisements and paid subscriber views.
But this criteria isn’t exactly easy to meet, in order to earn revenue through the partner program, your Channel needs at least 1000 subscribers and 4000+ hours of annual watch-time. However, when art tracks are streamed, YouTube pays on a per-stream basis (like Spotify or Apple), even if your channel does not meet the Partner Program guidelines. In order to reach the Partner Program guidelines and monetise your Channel, YouTube recommends these steps:
- Keep your audience primed with regularly scheduled uploads.
- Encourage viewers to subscribe.
- Boost your video views.
- Maximise watch-time.
- Make a habit of studying your analytics in YouTube Studio.
- Build you video inventory, because that is a big factor in increasing watch-time.
- Use custom End Screens and Cards that will lead viewers to more of your content.
What about the Music?
In the end their seems to be an inexhaustible number of ways in which social media/retail music web services are expanding and adapting to streamline the connections between creators and consumers. At times it seems to me as if these services are sort of reinventing the wheel again every few years in order to pick up another angle on generating revenue by making music consumption so “effortless”. But what else should they do but try and improve their services for us? Hopefully in the bigger picture it won’t also lead musicians and their artistic work toward homogenisation and the music and craft will retain its value, appreciation and distinction.