By Alisha Haridasani
After a series of stops and starts, YouTube will launch a music streaming service later this month to compete directly with Spotify and Apple Music.
The ad-supported YouTube Music will be available to users for free, and an ad-free version, YouTube Music Premium, will cost about $10 a month. There will be a mobile app and a desktop player designed to stream pre-programmed playlists, personalized music suggestions, live performances, and music videos, according to a statement from YouTube.
To consolidate its various video and music products, Google will include access to YouTube Music Premium for Google Play Music subscribers at no additional cost.
In addition to the standalone music product, YouTube is re-branding its music and video YouTube Red service as YouTube Premium. The ad-free subscription service will go from $10 to $12 a month, but it includes the new ad-free premium music service.
YouTubes official entry into the premium music streaming business has been a long time coming: More than 1 billion users a month already use YouTube to “discover new music.” A study published in 2017 estimates that YouTube accounts for 46 percent of time spent online listening to on-demand music.
The leading premium music streaming service, Spotify, has 75 million paid subscribers and is expected to hit 96 million by the end of the year. Rival Apple Music reportedly has 50 million paid and free users.