Competition in the on-demand music streaming space continues to ramp as Google parent company Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) becomes the latest deep-pocketed tech titan to take on recently public Spotify Technology S.A. (SPOT) and industry pioneer Pandora Inc. (P) for a slice of the high-growth market. (See also: Can Apple, Amazon, Pandora, Compete With Spotify?)
YouTube Music is slated to launch May 22, part of YouTube and Alphabet's larger media strategy as tech companies seek to gain on a secular shift away from traditional "transaction-based" models to "access-based" subscription services and on-demand video and music streaming platforms.
New and Improved YouTube Red
The new service will look a lot like that of market leader Spotify, which offers a free, ad-supported tier as well as a paid premium option. YouTube's paid premium music service will cost $9.99 per month and will debut in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea before expanding into 14 other countries. The free version will offer features like personalized playlists, while the ad-free YouTube Premium platform, which includes Music, is also available for $11.99 per month as a revamped version of the YouTube Red subscription with access to original shows and offline viewing.
Spotify has gained about 20% since its unconventional April 2018 direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange at $132 a share, as bulls on the Street applaud the Swedish company for serving as the closest thing to a Netflix Inc. (NFLX) for music. The global leader has faced heightened competition from rivals such as three-year-old Apple Music, which has managed to propel itself to the No. 2 spot and continues to creep up on Spotify as it integrates its service with devices such as Apple Watches and HomePod speakers.
Earlier this year, Google inked a deal with Major League Baseball for live sports streaming in a push to attract more users for its YouTube TV streaming television service. The tech giant is seeking to capitalize on the fact that Google's YouTube users spend twice as much time on the platform listening to on-demand music as all audio-streaming services combined, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. (See also: Youtube's MLB Deal: Google's Big Play in Streaming.)