YouTube "Music Pass" coming soon – prepare for everyone to get angry at YouTube in a few weeks time

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Word on the street is that YouTube is about to start blocking music videos from independent labels that haven’t signed up to the company’s new music subscription service. Sounds like that’s going to go down well…

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According to The Graun, YouTube (which is owned by Google, of course) will soon be launching a service called “YouTube Music Pass” – the idea being that users will be able to listen to music without adverts on YouTube, and as well as download the tracks to their phone. Perhaps it could be something like Spotify, with an added video component.

Where the inevitable social media hatestorm will unleash is in how the service is being launched: apparently Google is trying to coerce independent music labels into becoming a part of the new service by blocking them from YouTube entirely if they don’t.

Whilst it will be easy for Google to sign up the major labels to the plan, independent labels, let alone independent musicians may react badly: YouTube is a major marketing tool for them, and subscription services (like Spotify) are not universally loved due to the lack of royalties.

Perhaps more pertinently, it sounds as though it could piss off a lot of users: having previously been able to use YouTube to listen to music, it will no longer be possible unless they pay the monthly fee.

Personally, I can’t possibly see how this plan could ever work. Even ignoring the inevitable negative reaction from pretty much everyone, surely drawing a line between “independent label” and “person in their bedroom uploading their track” is going to be an absolute nightmare? And won’t it be a bit weird for YouTube to be home to pretty much everything video… apart from music?

Apparently YouTube are planning to launch a test of this service soon, with it rolling out to everyone later in the year. So there’s probably still a few months for everyone to sharpen their social media pitchforks.

James O’Malley