When YouTube Music launched its Premium service — then called YouTube Key, if memory serves — back in 2014, people wondered why anyone would pay for what they can get for free, albeit with advertising. Well, the formula worked for Spotify and it’s apparently working for YouTube as well: Lyor Cohen, the company’s global head of music, announced that the service has passed 50 million subscribers for YouTube Music and its Premium services, including “trialists” — nearly 20 million more than the last time the company revealed its subscribers last October.
While global market leader Spotify still has a healthy lead — its most recent total paid subscribers was around 165 million, announced earlier this year — No. 2 Apple Music may feel YouTube nipping at its heels: Its total, last announced in June of 2019, was 60 million. Amazon Music, No. 3, was at 55 million when the number was last updated in January of 2020, although its service is bundled with the extremely popular Amazon Prime.
YouTube Music’s growth is impressive, especially considering Cohen’s claim, announced in a blog post early Thursday, says the company is “seeing impressive growth in countries like South Korea, India, Japan, Russia, and Brazil,” markets that streaming services have seen as areas of exceptional growth opportunity.
“We’ve got killer products in YouTube Music and YouTube Premium that deliver truly unique value to artists and creators and the best experience for music fans and video lovers,” Cohen wrote. “We’re in our own lane.”
He doubled down on his comments by including statements from the heads of the world’s largest music companies, all of whom congratulated the company on the milestone.
Universal Music chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge 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.”
Warner’s CEO of recorded music, Max Lousada, 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. We look forward to collaborating on many more creative campaigns that amplify our artists and ignite cultural moments all over the world.”
Lenzo Yoon, CEO of Hybe America (formerly BigHit) said, “Congratulations to YouTube on achieving this milestone. YouTube has enabled our artists to reach global audiences and connect with their fans, especially amidst the global pandemic. We are thankful and excited about the opportunities YouTube brings to the music industry, and hope to continue to work with YouTube in enabling our artists to reach more audiences around the world with their music and to engage and connect with their fans globally.”
Denis Ladegaillerie, CEO of Believe, said, “It has been phenomenal to see YouTube hitting 50 Million Paid subscribers, in such a short time frame. This significant milestone is a testament to the product development, innovation and user journey experience the YouTube team has developed to attract users to become fully paid subscribers. It has also been fantastic to see YouTube Music proving to be a catalyst to drive paid streaming monetisation, especially in emerging markets which were previously under monetised. This is indeed great news for Artists and Labels to better monetise their content, and we look forward to further partnering with YouTube on how we can support them in their growth efforts across their portfolio of products to better serve and develop our artists and labels.”