| Glenn Chapman |
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – YouTube on Wednesday introduced a long-rumoured subscription music video service with ad-free access to tunes in a challenge to Spotify, Pandora, Apple and others.
YouTube Music Key launched in a test, or beta, mode, in Britain, Spain, Italy, Finland, Portugal, Ireland, and the United States with free trial periods, and introductory monthly fees of $7.99.
“Thanks to your music videos, remixes, covers and more, you’ve made YouTube the biggest music service on the planet,” the Google-owned YouTube music team said in a blog post.
YouTube Music Key is designed to let users listen to music without ads; to keep playing music videos even if device screens are locked or other applications are in use, and to play music even when not connected to the Internet.
Subscriptions to the new YouTube Music Key will come with access to Google Play Music service for mobile devices.
The service is being launched first with invitations sent to big music fans, then will be made available worldwide, according to Google, which bought the video sharing platform in eight years ago in a deal valued at $1.65 billion.
YouTube recently inked a deal with a group of independent record labels as part of the behind-the-scenes work to provide content for Music Key.
YouTube struck an agreement with Europe-based rights agency Merlin after months of negotiations, the Financial Times said Wednesday in a report citing sources familiar with the matter.
Record labels representing 95 per cent of the music industry have already signed up to the new terms but Merlin, which represents more than 20,000 labels from 39 countries, had been holding out.
Contacted by AFP, Merlin declined to comment.
Google also declined to comment on the report, but said that “hundreds of major and independent labels” have partnered with YouTube as it expands into a subscription service.
The California-based Internet titan echoed an earlier statement that hopes YouTube will serve as “a global platform for fans and artists to connect, and as a revenue source for the music industry.”