YouTube premium subscription service could launch in October

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Its beta trial may have been extended a couple of times this year, but YouTube Music Key is still expected to launch by the end of 2015 – chief executive Susan Wojcicki confirmed it during her most recent conference appearance.

But speculation that Music Key could be merged with YouTube’s previously-separate plans for a monthly-subscription tier that would remove ads across its entire service has been growing in volume.

Latest to fuel the rumours is technology site Recode, pointing to an email sent to YouTube channel-owners encouraging them to accept new terms and conditions by 22 October – and warning that if they do not “your videos will no longer be available for public display or monetisation in the United States”.

Recode suggests that this hints at a launch around that date, but its sources are additionally claiming that Music Key will be bundled into the premium tier.

“YouTube intends to bundle two different services into one offering: An update of its music service, which it launched in beta as YouTube Music Key last fall, and another service, yet to launch, that will give users the ability to watch anything on YouTube without seeing ads,” claimed Recode. “Video industry sources say Google has told them it intends to charge $10 a month for the combined offering.”

For now, YouTube is merely confirming that channels accounting for “over 95 percent of YouTube watch-time” have agreed to the new terms, while stressing that it is “progressing according to plan to provide fans more options in how they enjoy content on YouTube”.

A combined Music Key and ad-free subscription could have wider appeal than either individually, although there would be some interesting royalty calculations to be done if music were bundled into the same subscription as other categories of videos. Roll on next month, when – judging by that 22 October deadline – we should discover YouTube’s intentions.

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