The biggest free music streaming platform online isn’t Spotify, it’s YouTube. Around 400 hours worth of content is uploaded to YouTube every hour and if you’ve ever watched one of those strange lyric music videos for a song you like (because who doesn’t want to see the lyrics to Shake It Off streamed across your screen?), a quick scroll through the platform’s suggested videos will proliferate with more of the same. Look hard enough and you can find virtually any song you want on YouTube. The catch: getting through a pre-roll advertisement.
Not a bad price of admission, really. But YouTube plans to interrupt every cheap internet user’s favorite music streaming service very soon, according to music industry vet and YouTube global head of music Lyor Cohen.
Users can expect to see more ads in between music videos, and for those listening to those very same YouTube music videos for long stretches of time? You can expect an uptick in ads as well. Not unlike Spotify’s free subscription model, YouTube plans to “frustrate and seduce” free users of its platform into buying its long rumored music subscription service Remix.
“There’s a lot more people in our funnel that we can frustrate and seduce to become subscribers,” Cohen told Bloomberg. “Once we do that, trust me, all that noise will be gone and articles people write about that noise will be gone.”
YouTube has long been criticized for hurting the music industry by allowing free music to spread across its platform. Though previous paid subscription models from YouTube have stalled, all that was before Cohen arrived. As Bloomberg notes, Cohen has serious credibility in the music industry as a road manager for Run-DMC and was a Warner Music Group senior executive before starting his own successful independent label, 300 Entertainment.
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However, a YouTube spokesperson clarified in a Gizmodo article that not all users will experience this onset of advertisements.
“Our top priority at YouTube is to deliver a great user experience and that includes ensuring users do not encounter excessive ad loads,” the spokesperson told Gizmodo. “We do not seek to specifically increase ad loads across YouTube. For a specific subset of users who use YouTube like a paid music service today—and would benefit most from additional features—we may show more ads or promotional prompts to upsell to our paid service.”