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Google’s music business is reportedly struggling to catch up with Spotify

Update: A Google spokesperson told TrustedReviews: “YouTube Music & Premium paid subscribers grew 60% y/y from March 2018 to March 2019. YouTube aggressively disputes the WSJ report stating YouTube Music subscription growth has plateaued, countering that healthy subscription growth continued through Q1 of this year.”

The original piece continues below.

While many people use YouTube to listen to music, apparently they’re not turning into paid customers in significant numbers.

Both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal have heard from anonymous insiders at Google who claim that Google Play Music and YouTube Music subscriptions have been “essentially flat” and around the 15-16 million mark.

Now, 15 million people paying £10 a month certainly doesn’t sound like a problem (although the figure does include people on promotional trials), but put into the context of the industry and a whole, Google seems to be struggling. Spotify has over 100 million paying customers, for example.

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While Google didn’t comment on the total number of customers, YouTube did tell Bloomberg that the service was growing. It stated that YouTube Music and Premium subscriptions had jumped 60% year-on-year in the period between March 2018 and 2019.

If the report is accurate, it rather neatly sums up both YouTube’s challenge and opportunity. Starting with the positive, with 1.9 billion logged-in users watching YouTube videos every month, the company has an enormous opportunity to flag up its services to roughly a quarter of the world’s population every single month. If a fraction of those started paying, YouTube would jump to the top of the music streaming pile.

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The trouble is they really don’t seem to want to, and it’s possibly a huge misreading of YouTube’s average user to expect that they ever will. YouTube is synonymous with free, and that’s a big reason why it’s got so big in the first place.

In other words, the pool may be enormous, but there’s possibly a limited number of fish in it.

Can YouTube Music ever be a contender to Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

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