YouTube Unveils Music Key Subscription Service

YouTube Music Key - H 2014
Courtesy of YouTube

YouTube Music Key - H 2014

The long-awaited service has been revealed

YouTube has finally unveiled the much-anticipated music subscription service it has been working on for more than a year. 

The Google-owned streaming service announced on Wednesday that it is launching YouTube Music Key, a monthly subscription service that will give users access to ad-free music, offline viewing and the ability to play music in the background while using other apps. 

Music Key is rolling out to a select group of invitees on Nov. 17 who will get free access to the service's beta version for six months. When Music Key becomes widely available, it will cost $9.99 per month. A promotional price of $7.99 per month will be made available at launch. With that fee, users also receive access to the Google Play Music subscription, which offers more than 30 million songs and playlists for streaming.

"Thanks to your music videos, remixes, covers and more, you’ve made YouTube the biggest music service on the planet," the company wrote in a blog post. "To turn YouTube into your perfect music service, we’re launching YouTube Music Key as a beta with our biggest music fans first, and then we’ll bring YouTube Music Key to the whole world together." 

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Beginning on Wednesday, YouTube is also rolling out new music features for free, ad-supported music video viewing. They include a new hub for music accessible from the home screen on the YouTube apps and website that shows a user's favorite music videos and recommended playlists. Those playlists include recommendations based on what the user has listened to, what's trending on YouTube and mood-based mixes. 

YouTube also plans to make it easier to find an artist's discography through their official music videos and other songs uploaded to the streamer so a user can play a full album straight through. 

Speculation about a YouTube music subscription service that would compete with streaming services such as Spotify began last year. But the loss of the team's top product manager and difficulties striking streaming deals are said to have delayed the service's launch. Since then, the streaming music space has become even more crowded with the launch of Beats Music, and Spotify has continued to grow, announcing that it has 12.5 million paying subscribers.   

A YouTube spokeswoman says it is now working with every major and indie label.