The service is expected to offer ad-supported, subscription and offline options
In the same week that Twitter is rumoured to be considering closing down its music discovery application, there is speculation that YouTube will be unveiling its own music service before the end of the year. Whereas Twitter's first musical application was focused on 'music discovery', YouTube will be going up against the likes of iTunes and Spotify as a subscription streaming service.
According to Billboard, the Google-owned site is expected to offer an ad-supported unlimited music option, as well as a premium, paid and ad-free subscription version. This will put them in direct competition with other streaming music services, with more - like the announced Beats Music - due to enter the fray shortly.
Interestingly, a YouTube Music would also be 'competing' with Google's own All Access music. The company is said to have also secured the licenses for YouTube when negotiating deals with labels and artists for All Access, and the services could potentially link up at some capacity.
YouTube launching a dedicated music service does seem like a natural extension. Musical content is easily one of YouTube's biggest draws, with music videos routinely racking up millions of views. Some, like Gangnam Style, have managed over a billion.
Aside from that legitimately uploaded content, often managed through the likes of Vevo, users have also uploaded countless songs without permission, with ads used to ensure some income for artists whose music is available on the site. A music service would make a wider range of music legitimately available, and subscriptions would provide another source of revenue for YouTube and content providers.
Users, meanwhile, would likely benefit from the ability to save music offline and a greater variety of content. It would also help make YouTube mobile friendlier, as audio files are significantly smaller to download than videos. Only time will tell, though, whether YouTube can become a genuine contender in an already competitive and increasingly diluted field. They certainly have the userbase, brand recognition and reputation to try.
With the likes of the forthcoming inaugural YouTube Music Awards, the company has already pledged commitment to promoting and expanding the site's musical content.