YouTube launch new music streaming service to rival Spotify

There’s been a lot of speculation about YouTube’s impending music streaming service, but now we’ve finally been given some concrete information: it’s called YouTube Music Key and for USD$9.99 per month, you’ll be able to stream and download high quality versions of artists’ entire discographies, all within the existing YouTube app.

Offering “ad-free music, offline playback and background listening”, the new service is set to launch this week in beta mode and will rival streaming giant Spotify.

Rather than building a separate music streaming platform from the ground up, YouTube have chosen to look at the way that people already engage with music on their service and legitimise it by reaching royalty deals with labels. YouTube has long been used for streaming unofficial track and album uploads; now users will be able to stream that same music legally and in high quality, albeit at a price. (There is a free version of the app, but it will have ads).

The question of unfair royalty payments for independent labels still remains up in the air, with a YouTube spokesperson claiming that “hundreds of indies” will be uploading their artists’ discographies to YouTube alongside the three major labels. But as yet, there’s no word from labels like XL and Domino, who previously spoke of the “bullying” tactics they’d encountered from YouTube.

The bad news? For now, YouTube Music Key is only available in seven countries, and Australia’s not one of them. If all goes to plan, expect YouTube Music Key to be rolled out to the rest of the world at the end of its six month beta testing period.