YouTube Red / by Eric Lum

Last year YouTube debuted their ‘Music Key’ Beta, allowing users to watch music videos ad-free and enabling a background play feature that allowed videos to play while using other apps. Robert Kyncl (Chief Business Office @ YouTube) says that, “The most common and most frequent point of confusion was why this set of features didn’t work across YouTube."

To incorporate this feedback YouTube evolved Music Key into YouTube Red. Starting on October 28th, users can pay $9.99/month for access to

  • Ad free videos
  • Offline video saving
  • Background video play

Both YouTube Red & Google Play services will be included in the subscription, and what’s most interesting is the fact that all content creators MUST opt into the service or your content will be turned private.

Over the past 15 years, technology companies have built empires off driving consumer perception of content to the bottom barrel price of free. The fact that the biggest content provider on earth is shifting from ‘freemium/ad supported’ to a ‘subscription’ model is an early indicator that content is returning back to its throne as king. This shift is bound to have a ripple effect on all digital content providers, and I’m most interested in how this can potentially attract a whole new generation of creators.

Instead of aspiring to be the next Zuckerberg, the world’s top talents might actually find it cool to have rock star aspirations once again. The 1% will always be the 1%, but imagine a restoration of music’s middle class where Artists can create again, where the top 1% of artists earn 77% of recorded music income is no longer a reality weighing them down. If this truely is the inflection point for content creators, I’m really excited for the music, films, and art to come during the next 10 years.

According to TechCrunch, YouTube has decided to treat big media companies and independent creators equally, which is a HUGE precedent to set as an industry leader. Compared to the anticipation for Apple music, I can’t believe how under the radar YouTube Red is flying. This may be the next ‘iTunes’ moment for the music industry.