Head of YouTube Music Exits, as Google Scrambles to Launch Pay Subscription Service

Chris LaRosa will leave the company to join an unidentified startup, marking the second YouTube head of music to split in the past year.

Chris LaRosa, YouTube’s product manager in charge of music, is leaving the company by week’s end, putting another crimp in Google’s plans to launch a paid music subscription service, according to a report on wsj.com.

The company had already received resistance from independent labels protesting a perceived inequity in the terms being offered to them as opposed to major music groups.

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LaRosa was described as a “very talented” exec whose exit is a “huge loss” to the company.

He is the second person in charge of YouTube’s music service to leave over the past 12 months, after Nikhil Chandhok left last fall as director in charge of music, paid subscriptions and live streaming.

Both departures reportedly resulted in part from frustrations that YouTube has been unable to launch its music subscription service after the first version had been developed.

The disputes involve which features YouTube should charge users for and how the service should be integrated with the rest of the popular video site.

The paid version’s features include no advertising, the ability to continue playing music when users switch to other apps and storing music for limited offline listening.

People who already pay for Google Play Music All Access are expected to be able to use YouTube’s service as well.

Google still insists it expects to launch its service in the next few months, though music licensing disputes have yet to be resolved. YouTube’s existing license agreements, signed with major record labels in late 2012, reportedly require the company to launch a successful paid music service.

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Music labels have been concerned that YouTube’s free service could jeopardize paid outlets such as Spotify, which recently announced it had passed the 11 million paying subscribers mark worldwide. That figure — and the service's head start — will be tough to beat for any newcomer.

LaRosa’s successor has not been named, and it is unclear who at Google will take over the reins in the interim.

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