YouTube reportedly ready to launch subscription music service

YouTube may be ready to join the crowded field of streaming music subscription services.

According to a report by Billboard, YouTube is preparing to launch a service “akin to a Spotify but with video” by the end of the year. It would feature free unlimited music streaming as well as a $10-a-month premium option offering offline, ad-free listening, the report said, similar to Google’s All Access streaming music service.

YouTube’s service would focus heavily on mobile listening, and could be incorporated into Google Glass in the future, Billboard said. It will also likely feature complete albums, a significant upgrade from YouTube’s current offerings of singles.

The report noted that music licensing — typically the sticking point to streaming deals — shouldn’t be a problem, as parent company Google already has deals in place for All Access.

Streaming and subscription music services are booming, generating a billion dollars in revenues last year, as the music industry tries to find new avenues to make up for decreasing sales of music downloads. Google launched its All Access streaming radio service in May, and reportedly will release a version for Apple’s iOS later this month. It also recently upgraded its search interface to highlight songs and YouTube music videos.

Archrival Apple, meanwhile, launched its own streaming music venture, iTunes Radio, last month.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced earlier this week that the service had already lured 20 million listeners who played 1 billion songs, according to a separate report by Billboard. That measures out to 2.91 hours a month per listener — not too shabby to start, but lagging far behind the 15.8 hours a month per listener from Oakland-based Pandora, the industry leader in streaming radio with 200 million subscribers.

Mike Murphy Mike Murphy (336 Posts)

Mike Murphy is a web producer at the Mercury News, and also writes for Good Morning Silicon Valley and 60-Second Business Break.