YouTube Music closing in on streaming rivals as it hits 50m subscribers
YouTube Music this week hit 50 million subscribers and trailers – up from an estimated 39 million at the end of March 2021.
Its rapid growth is attributed to a take-up by younger music fans and in markets including South Korea, India, Japan, Russia and Brazil.
Chief business officer, Robert Kyncl, said the velocity in those markets had been amazing.
“I don’t think we expected we’d get to 50 million this fast. It’s gone better than what we thought we would do.”
Midia Research founder, Mark Mulligan, observed that the early signs are that YouTube Music is becoming to Gen Z what Spotify was to Millennials half a decade ago.
It’s still a long way from Spotify, which Midia estimated had a 32% global share at the end of March 2021, with 159 million subs of a total 487 million music subscribers around the world.
Apple Music had 77.9 million (16%), Amazon Music with 63.3 million (13%) and Tencent Music with 60.9 million (rounded to 13%).
YouTube Music’s global share was put at 8%, but that hasn’t stopped Midia from calling it “the standout story of the music subscriber market for the last couple of years”.
Its argument is that the Google-owned company was the last of these streaming services to launch, in 2018, and its achievements are therefore more impressive.
Spotify came in 2008, Apple Music in 2015, and Amazon Music Unlimited and Tencent in 2016.
Wall Street tipped YouTube Music to reach only 25 million subs by 2022. But after a slow first 10 months, in 2020, it posted a 60% subs growth, sitting at 30 million payers to YouTube Premium and Music Premium at the end of Q3.
Commenting on this week’s milestone, Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group, said: “Our trailblazing agreement over three years ago with YouTube established a foundation for their commitment to subscription that led to the launch of YouTube Music.
“Today, that approach was more than validated as their service passed the 50 million subscriber milestone.”
Max Lousada, CEO of recorded music at Warner Music Group, said: “We live in a highly visual attention economy, and YouTube has led the way in UGC and fan expression.
“Music has always been a pivotal part of their platform, so it’s great to see them become a dynamic force in subscription streaming too.”
It’ll be interesting to see how the growth rate will be affected by TikTok’s growing rivalry.
Lyor Cohen, global head of music said in June: “As a visual-audio platform, our goal is to become the leading revenue generator for the music industry.”
At that time, YouTube had paid out more than $4 billion to music rightsholders in the previous 12 months – 30% from subs, the rest ad revenue.
Spotify had the lead claiming a $5 billion pay-out last year.