Updated: YouTube To Intentionally 'Frustrate' Music Listeners With Ads To Promote Paid Streaming Service


Hey, good news everyone, Google is going to be serving up more ads through YouTube in between music videos! Isn't that awesome? Wait, you're not stoked? Well then, that is unfortunate, because apparently the video streaming site will forge ahead with showing a greater number of ads to some users. It's part of an effort to get more people to subscribe to YouTube's music service.

Lyor Cohen, YouTube's head of music, told Bloomberg that the ad campaign will primarily target people who mostly use YouTube as a music service. These are people who passively listen to music on YouTube for long periods of time, as opposed to those who fire up the streaming service to watch other types of content.

"You're not going to be happy after you are jamming 'Stairway to Heaven' and you get an ad right after that," Cohen said.

It is an odd comment to make, albeit surprisingly candid, as YouTube's strategy is to essentially annoy users into subscribing. That's probably not the best way to utilize ads, but if it ultimately works, then we suppose the ends will justify the means (from Google's vantage point, anyway).

The focus on getting more people to subscribe is part of a broader effort to prove YouTube's commitment to getting people to pay for music. YouTube is looking to silence the "noise" about the company supposedly doing harm to the recording industry at large. Music labels have long criticized the streaming service for not paying artists and record companies enough, and for sometimes hosting videos that are in violation of copyright.

According to Cohen, YouTube will take a step in rectifying that mindset through a campaign to "frustrate and seduce" freeloading YouTube users into subscribing. The new service that YouTube is working on will include exclusive videos, playlists, and other things of interest to music fans.

"There’s a lot more people in our funnel that we can frustrate and seduce to become subscribers," Cohen said. "Once we do that, trust me, all that noise will be gone and articles people write about that noise will be gone."

Maybe so, but it seems to us that YouTube is opening up an entirely new can of worms in the process.

Updated March 22nd at 4:39pm
YouTube reached out to us with the following statement:

Our top priority at YouTube is to deliver a great user experience and that includes ensuring users do not encounter excessive ad loads. 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.