When is a music-streaming service not officially a music-streaming service? When it's YouTube. Even though the service has had the primary goal of allowing people to upload their own videos, YouTube quickly became a haven for music - music either uploaded by fans, or the record labels themselves. Music is now huge on YouTube, even though services like Spotify, Last.fm, Pandora and so on all exist. I even have friends who've spent time crafting playlists for music on the service, just because of how convenient it is.
So isn't it about time, then, that Google launch an official music-streaming extension of YouTube? Well, it should come as little surprise that Google has been planning this for a while, but as most things go within the music industry, nothing is quick. However, according to Fortune, Google's service will launch before the end of the year, with Warner Music having been the first company to jump on-board.
The potential here for Google, the music industry and consumers is enormous. YouTube attracts 800,000,000 unique visitors per month, and a lot of them, especially teens, use the service to listen to (or discover) music. So it seems reasonable, then, that if an official music-streaming service on YouTube were to become available, people might just flock to it. At the same time, it should save Google a considerable amount of bandwidth, as the number of people who end up streaming video just to hear audio has got to be equally enormous.
It's expected that Google will offer both free and subscription-based offerings, with the goal to be able to offer a free streaming option for mobile - a huge sticking point for some other services.
Personally, I don't think this service could get here soon enough. But being a Canadian, I can't help but wonder if there will be some restrictions in place, much like there are with other services (Spotify and Pandora are good examples). Of course, this is Google we're talking about, and it generally likes to do what it can to cater to people the world over - it just makes business sense. It's worked out well for Apple.