The World Is Listening To The Music It Loves On YouTube (forbes)


I write about the music industry, from tech to charts and more. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Susan Wojcicki, chief executive officer of YouTube Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Google’s artificial intelligence-based voice Assistant is on more than 100 million devices now, and the company is leveraging a longtime competitor to expand the technology to even more people. Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg

It’s no secret that YouTube is one of the most popular websites in the world, but even knowing that, the numbers connected to the service can still be mind-boggling, especially when it comes to music. While it wasn’t created to be a streaming music service, the Google-owned platform remains the single most-used website in the world to listen to music legally. While competitors (in some sense, at least) like Spotify and Apple Music are growing by leaps and bounds, the majority of music lovers all around the world still prefer to head to to hear their favorites.

Every year, the IFPI (the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) publishes its Music Consumer Insight Report, which is regarded by many to be a must-read for anyone working in the business. It analyzes how millions of people in the world interact and access music. This year, one of the focuses of the report was YouTube, which is becoming as controversial as it is popular to many in the music industry.

According to the 2017 report, video takes up 55% of all time dedicated to on-demand streaming (which is when a consumer can choose the song they want to hear whenever they want, as opposed to radio services which legally aren’t allowed to offer such an option). Incredibly, YouTube is responsible for 46% of all on-demand streaming time, with every other video site making up the rest of the 55%.

For comparison, all other on-demand streaming channels, such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer, Napster and the handful of others that have been able to collect even a minimal number of either free or paid users, make up the rest of listening time (just 45% combined), so it’s clear that none of them come even close to matching the ubiquity of YouTube.

According to the report, 85% of YouTube users went there for music in just the past month (from when the information was compiled). That adds up to about 1.3 billion people—several times larger than the total number of listeners who have signed up for a proper streaming platform like Spotify (which now has over 100 million users) or Apple Music (which is approaching 30 million).

Somewhat sadly, it appears that while there could be hundreds of thousands of different acts and bands on YouTube with tens of millions of songs available, the vast majority of people are only looking for the hits they already know and love. The report states that 76% of YouTube users are listening to songs they’re already familiar with, which suggests that at least some of them are still learning about new music somewhere else, and then accessing them on the world’s most beloved video hosting site.


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