YouTube’s paid music streaming services have amassed 50m subscribers, a milestone for Google as it competes with Amazon, Apple and Spotify in the fiercely competitive market.
After a slow start since launching in 2018, YouTube’s music streaming services have attracted millions of paying users in recent months to reach 50m subscribers in August, according to two people briefed on the figures.
That is up markedly from the 30m subscribers that YouTube reported in October last year, and reflects growing demand for YouTube Music, which costs $10 a month, and YouTube Premium, an expanded product with extra video features that costs $12 a month.
After years of friction with the music industry over YouTube’s struggle to convince some of its billions of users to pay for content, Google hired Lyor Cohen — a longtime record executive who helped develop artists including Kanye West — to lead the launch of YouTube Music and turn it into a rival to Spotify.
Spotify reported it had reached 165m subscribers by the second quarter, while Apple and Amazon had 78m and 63m subscribers, respectively, at the end of the first quarter, according to Midia estimates. Spotify launched in 2008, Apple Music in 2015 and Amazon Music Unlimited in 2016.
YouTube had paid out more than $4bn to music rightsholders in the previous 12 months. Out of the $4bn, 30 per cent came from subscriptions, while the rest was advertising revenue, he said. By comparison, Spotify said it paid $5bn to rightsholders last year.