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The Current State of Music

Having just read an article on the BBC website about how Youtube intends to start a music subscription service and subsequent bridge burning activities (not literally), I feel compelled to write something on the matter. I'll try and keep this short but I'm not making any promises...

To put this all into context, I'll paraphrase the article: Youtube wants to jump on the music subscription bandwagon, and any label that doesn't strike a deal with them will have their content removed forevermore. In the article there is a strong leaning towards independent music labels being the victims who will not be partaking in the deals set out by Youtube.

I feel quite confused about the whole thing to be honest. Don't get me wrong, I understand what they're trying to do and why, but I also realise what the complications will be for the 'independents'. Obviously Youtube wants to cash in on people freely enjoying music through their site, I get it, they want an even bigger slice of the pie because lets be honest, they're already making bucks from advertising and whatnot, but knowing Google as it is, that just simply isn't enough.

But what I don't understand is why they would want to alienate the majority of their users. Why will it alienate users? Let me tell you why.

1. A lot of people already have music subscription services through Spotify and other such mediums, and to be honest, they're already quite proficient in their offerings, so why would anyone look elsewhere? Possibly for a cheaper price, but certainly not for a more inferior service which it will inevitably be.

2. Some people don't want to have to pay for their music on top of having already paid for the download/CD/vinyl. I don't have a subscription to Spotify or any other service, because quite frankly I've already paid for my music collection fair and square by going to the shops and buying my CDs - yes there are still people that do that - so I'll either pop on a CD, my iPod or Youtube when I want to listen to something.

3. There is a huge youtube community, by charging for a part of the usage of the site will damage its integrity and potentially put people off from using Youtube.

But way more importantly (in my eyes) than alienating users comes further damage to the industry and its ability to turn a profit.

The outcome of some record labels, for example Domino who are mentioned in the BBC article, not signing their soul away to Google to get a fraction of the profit from their content being on the site, certainly won't be devastating but just another avenue shut off to them.

I see user engagement going two ways, positively and negatively, the worst case scenario is that people who don't like paying for their music turn back to illegal downloading, which will continue to damage the industry. OR it will encourage people to turn back to buying music legally, although this will probably still be digitally.

This post hasn't really come to any conclusion in particular because as I said, the whole situation confuses me. But one thing I am certain on, is that its not a smart move for Youtube.