When Google finally launches its rumored YouTube Remix platform this year, one of its other services will be put to rest. According to a reliable source, Google Play Music will be replaced as Google’s go-to music service with YouTube Remix. Not only that, but users will be forced off of Play Music by the end of 2018 and onto Remix.
Obviously Play Music hasn’t gained the traction Google hoped it would; it’s routinely omitted from share-links like this one. In my experience it’s actually a very good service, and it helps that the ad-free YouTube Red is bundled in to the subscription. But for a while now it’s felt like the mobile and web apps needed an update, and now we know why that hasn’t happened yet.
That a change is upcoming isn’t what’s weird though, it’s the name of that new service… YouTube Remix. That is a terrible name for a music service. Google obviously really sees value in YouTube as a music destination, and indeed a partner for the major labels. But will users readily make the mental leap from “cat videos” to “music destination”? I’m doubtful.
“The fact that sales revenues dipped in a record year for British music shows clearly that something is fundamentally broken in the music market,” BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor told the Guardian. So who’s responsible? Taylor places the blame on “dominant tech platforms like YouTube,” which he says are “dictating terms so they can grab the value from music for themselves, at the expense of artists.”
Recorded music as a consumer item is less than 100 years old as an industry, and the tech behind it has changed rapidly. Taking a long view historically, there’s been very little stability in the music industry as a commercial undertaking at all. The Internet has redefined an industry that’s already been completely redefined multiple times since records became popular. We’re still at the very start of this adjustment period, and the entrenched entities are flailing about a bit while the dust is starting to settle.
Blaming dominant tech platforms for year-on-year discrepancies is myopic, but the music industry as a whole – and record companies in particular – have never been particularly visionary beyond the hunt for profits. “…dictating terms so they can grab the value from music for themselves, at the expense of artists” – yeah, that sounds familiar.
Subscription-based music streaming, on the other hand, has yet to prove itself to be a viable model, even after hundreds of millions of investment dollars raised and spent. For our part, we are committed to offering an alternative that we know works. As long as there are fans who care about the welfare of their favorite artists and want to help them keep making music, we will continue to provide that direct connection. And as long as there are fans who want to own, not rent, their music, that is a service we will continue to provide, and that is a model whose benefits we will continue to champion.? – Bandcamp