YouTube(s goog) is planning to roll out a subscription music service this year, according to a Billboard report citing unidentified sources. The service will apparently be similar to Spotify, with free and premium tiers, and will include video in some way.
“The service, designed with mobile listening in mind, will have a free component and a premium tier that offers unlimited access to a full catalog of tracks similar to what’s already available via YouTube’s parent company, Google Inc., via its All Access subscription music service. Premium features would include the ability to cache music for offline listening and removing ads.”
The good news for YouTube is that it already has the licenses it needs for a service like this. Google launched its own music subscription service, Google Play Music All Access, in May, and the licenses it obtained for that service were also for YouTube.
So, what would set YouTube’s music service apart from myriad competitors, including not just Google’s own service but also Spotify, Pandora, Apple’s iTunes (s AAPL) Radio and Rdio’s new offering? The videos are one obvious answer: Billboard’s report is unclear on they will be included in the service, but perhaps users would have the option of streaming a video while a song plays (though that would be tough to do and not that useful if you’re listening on the go). The article also mentions that “there are strategic reasons for developing a premium music video service that could be paired up with other Google products in the future, including Google Glass.” (Well, that would solve the watching-while-you-walk problem.)
Beyond that, Billboard’s sources mention full album streaming, offline caching of both songs and music videos and no ads. YouTube’s already started experimenting with offline video; starting in November, creators will have the option of adding offline viewing to their videos.
Nonetheless, the space is crowded. In addition to the services that have already launched, a human-curated offering from Beats is on the way too.