It was only a matter of time, and the time is now: Youtube is rolling out a paid model. According to the Verge, the video-hosting service’s paid tier will cost the user approximately $10 a month, in exchange for features like ad-free content and the ability to “store videos offline” on mobile devices. These are the same features that Youtube offers through its fairly new music-focused Music Key subscription. Although that launch ruffled feathers with many artists who felt they weren’t getting adequately compensated.
But Youtube’s paid tier probably won’t be optional for creators. The company sent out a cheery letter today alerting artists to the way the functionality of the platform will be altered. Here’s the full letter via Bloomberg:
According to sources from the Verge, if creators don’t participate in the service, all of their videos will be set to private, effectively forcing all creators to sign up for it. Which doesn’t mean the free, ad-supported version of Youtube won’t exist. It just means that all creators will be forced to participate in the subscription service as well as the free version.
Currently, Youtube takes 45 percent of advertising revenue and gives 55 percent to the creators, and they reportedly plan to take the same cut from subscription revenue as well. For context, both Spotify and iTunes take 30 percent of revenue from a song stream or sale.
Details still seem to be very much in flux, but Youtube did give a meaningless comment on the matter via email:
While we can’t comment on ongoing discussions, giving fans more choice to enjoy the content they love and creators more opportunity to earn revenue are always amongst our top priorities.
It seems pretty unlikely that most people will sign up for the paid tier of Youtube anyway as long as the free version is intact. The gist of the premium model is that even with the added subscription revenue, artists are probably going to make less off their music. This almost makes Tidal look good. Almost.