The way you experience YouTube may be dramatically different before the end of the year. The world’s largest video-sharing site is preparing to launch two separate subscription services before the end of 2015 — Music Key, which has been in beta since last November, and another unnamed service targeting YouTube’s premium content creators, which will come with a pay-wall. Taken together, YouTube will be a mix of free, ad-supported content and premium videos that sit behind a pay-wall.
With over 1 billion users, YouTube is large enough to support segmented streaming services and music label companies are eager to push users away from free, ad-supported offerings over to the more lucrative paid subscriptions.
For YouTube users the biggest change will be the music that inevitably finds its way behind the upcoming pay-wall. YouTube is still the largest music streaming platform in the world — 45 out of the 50 most-viewed YouTube videos of all time are music videos — and it is still the place where teens get the majority of their music.
The unnamed subscription service is aimed at YouTube’s most popular creators and their audiences, and will offer ad-free videos and the ability to save videos offline, as well as access to premium content behind a pay-wall.
With two upcoming subscription services, YouTube, which pulled in US$4 billion in revenue in 2014, could be on the path to finally turning a profit. But it will need to tread carefully in the transition away from a model where most everything has been free.