Despite increasing competition from Facebook and Google’s own expectation that growth would decelerate, YouTube is growing steadily and launching new features. Many of the features are geared toward helping its content creators monetize their work, but one in particular is getting most of the attention. Within a few months, Google plans to launch a subscription option known as Music Key. Music Key is currently in beta, but Google is “fine tuning the experience" for a wide public launch.
What makes Music Key stand out is that it’s an ad-free section of YouTube, which has heretofore relied heavily on ad sales to bring in revenue. That’s not to say YouTube hasn’t ever given subscription services a shot – it started subscription channels a little over a year ago – but the bulk of YouTube’s content remains ad-based.
With Facebook’s own video sharing features drawing users, Google might be looking at Music Key as a way to improve viewer loyalty – if you’re paying for the service, it’s harder to move platforms. And, obviously, the service will appeal to music lovers who want to ditch the ads.
At the same time, Google’s Robert Kyncl recently talked up Google Preferred at a Code/Media conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Where most ads can be skipped after several seconds, content creators who take part in Google Preferred can include ads that users can’t skip, which drives up revenue. Content creators are seeing good results from this, and the feature is catching on. So, if things keep moving in this direction for YouTube, you may find yourself paying more to watch movies – either with your time or with cash.