YouTube has quietly become a giant subscription business.
The Alphabet-owned video platform said Thursday that it now has more than 100 million subscribers to YouTube Music and YouTube Premium services. The 100 million number includes trial subscribers, and is of Jan. 2024, per a company post.
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“The music industry is at a critical juncture,” wrote YouTube’s global head of music Lyor Cohen in a post of his own about the milestone. “Together, we can harness technological innovation to drive unprecedented value for artists and fans, building on our momentum that contributed $6 billion to the music industry in 12 months. From leveraging AI to enhance creative imagination, to seamlessly bridging short-form and long-form content for maximum artist exposure, we can forge a future together where the music industry thrives.”
The YouTube news also comes in the same week that Universal Music Group, one of the largest labels, pulled its song catalog from TikTok after the two companies couldn’t come to terms on a deal.
That background makes a supporting statement from UMG CEO Lucian Grange all the more interesting:
“Neal, Lyor, and their team at YouTube deserve enormous credit for achieving this extraordinary milestone and continuing to grow and drive innovation while making significant contributions to the global music ecosystem,” Grange said. “Our partnership demonstrates that if you start from a foundation of respect for artists and songwriters, there are limitless opportunities to create thriving businesses that benefit artists and fans alike.”
YouTube is a giant streaming business, generating $9.2 billion in ad revenue in Q4 2023 alone. However, the company also has ambitions to become a player in subscriptions, which provide consistent monthly revenue, and help makes consumers sticky with the products. YouTube Music competes with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, while YouTube Premium adds extra features (like downloads) and removes ads from YouTube.
YouTube also has the YouTube TV streaming multichannel video service, as well as NFL Sunday Ticket. Google said this week that subscriptions across the company are a $15 billion business annualized.
YouTube last broke out subscriber numbers for its Music and Premium services in Nov. 2022, when it had 80 million. That would suggest that it added 20 million subscribers over the last 15 months. The new number also comes after YouTube hiked the prices on its subscription services last summer.
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