On October 28, Google is replacing “YouTube Music Key” with the formal launch of YouTube Red, a subscription service for YouTube.
At $10/month, subscribers will get an ad-free experience. They’ll also get other features, including exclusive access to videos specifically produced for YouTube Red (using “top YouTube creators”), as well as Google Play Music subscription access. The service is just being layered on top of the existing Google/YouTube accounts, so no separate app is required.
YouTube plans to split subscription revenue with creators whose material is accessed through YouTube Red. Google’s signed up most of the major YouTube creators/studios to the service already. However, Google did this using punitive means: creators who don’t sign up for YouTube Red will see their videos hidden completely from YouTube, including the traditional free version. That’s not the most ideal way to kick their new service off or encourage creators, no matter how badly Google wants to horn in on other streaming services’ territories.
While TechCrunch thinks Red could become a full fledged rival to Spotify and Apple Music, Google’s new service still has a few obstacles to overcome. For starters, people are used to using YouTube for free, and some even with ad blockers installed to avoid ads. Along with that, some might not find $10 a month—the same rate for Netflix or Hulu—worth it for YouTube stars, exclusive material or not.
Finally, YouTube Red’s name some sounds too similar to that of “RedTube,” a major website dedicated to pornographic videos. Of course, as we’ve seen with Alphabet and its domain issues, this isn’t the first time Google didn’t seem to consider existing website names before choosing a new name. Google’s also had awkward names for their services in the past—Google Play Music’s subscription tier was formerly known by the unwieldy name “Google Play Music All Access.” I suppose Google could sue RedTube over the name, citing trademark infringement?
The above flaws aside, YouTube Red subscribers will get access to Google Play Music’s subscription services, so it might be worth subscribing just for that alone. Even if Red doesn’t fully take off, Google Play Music’s a pretty decent streaming music service.