In the wake of declining download sales in favor of streaming services like Spotify and Rdio, YouTube recently announced its intent to provide its own rendition of a pay-as-you-go streaming service, rumored to be called YouTube Music Pass. It is currently still in the testing phase, and there is no announced date for its launch.
While any streaming service might hope to provide its paying listeners with all the artists their collective ears desire, YouTube is in imminent danger of isolating themselves from many independent record labels like Domino, XL and many more whose rosters constitute roughly 10% of YouTube’s music content. The recently updated, non-negotiable royalty contracts offered by Google (owners of YouTube) have riled a list of grievances from musicians like Billy Bragg to many indie record-label heads who have angrily refused to comply with the “threats, intimidation and bullying” entailed within YouTube’s contracts.
Losing bigger name artists like Radiohead and The xx and smaller acts like FKA Twigs and Blood Orange will likely isolate YouTube from hordes of young customers, and create a streaming service that only caters to big record labels like Universal, Sony and Warner that have the funds to align themselves with the brand. While it is entirely possible that YouTube Music Pass could go down the same route as Google Plus (a comparatively worse imitation of an already-existing and widely-used service), there is always the possibility that their “enhanced” streaming services will become a success, given assumed added video content and the large audience for major label Top 40 hits. Until then, YouTube has confirmed that they will begin removing material from artists signed to the these labels from their site immediately.