Just last week, a keynote at SXSW confirmed that YouTube’s upcoming subscription service would combine the “best of Google Play Music.” New comments from YouTube’s head of music today detail how it plans to attract those who already use the video site as a music streaming service, for example by offering exclusive content.

Nintendo Switch

Speaking to Bloomberg, YouTube music lead Lyor Cohen describes how the company will convert free subscribers into paying ones with the latest iteration of its subscription service. YouTube will increase the number of ads between music videos in order to target those who already use the free version of the site.

According to Cohen, the particular audience that will see more ads are users who passively listen to music for long periods of time. With Red, YouTube hoped features like ad-free playback, background listening, and offline downloads would bring in customers.

“There’s a lot more people in our funnel that we can frustrate and seduce to become subscribers,” Cohen said. “Once we do that, trust me, all that noise will be gone and articles people write about that noise will be gone.”


Update: A YouTube spokesperson reached out this afternoon to clarify Cohen’s comments. The site confirms that it might show more “promotional prompts” — which it acknowledges are “ads” — for its upcoming music service, but it will not increase the amount of regular ads shown to users. Meanwhile, the company confirms that it will be targeting a “specific subset of users who use YouTube like a paid music service today.”

Our top priority at YouTube is to deliver a great user experience and that includes ensuring users do not encounter excessive ad loads. We do not seek to specifically increase ad loads across YouTube. For a specific subset of users who use YouTube like a paid music service today – and would benefit most from additional features –  we may show more ads or promotional prompts to upsell to our paid service.

That has failed to happen, with the new service providing a new set of benefits, like exclusive videos, playlists, and “other offerings that will appeal to die-hard music fans,” according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, Cohen revealed that a significant marketing campaign is planned as the company takes on Apple and Spotify, who has had success in converting free subscribers to premium ones.

Besides finding a new revenue source, YouTube hopes that a successful service will pacify music industry criticisms that the Google video network is harmful. Cohen is a 30 year veteran of the record business and previously worked at Warner Music Group before joining YouTube in 2016.

Previous reports pegged a March launch, with YouTube not making any announcements at SXSW. Today’s report notes that thousands of Googlers are already testing the service.

9to5Google’s Take

YouTube walks a fine line in not alienating existing users of the site. The demographic they are targeting is ripe for an up sell to a premium service with genuinely beneficial features. However, there are still valid questions on whether users will pay for something they have long considered to be a free part of the internet.

What do you think about it? Would more ads “frustrate” you or people you know into subscribing? Let us know in the comment section below.


Check out 9to5Google on YouTube for more news:

About the Author