Google has announced that it has 50 million users subscribed to or trying YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, which is a marked increase from the 30 million subscribers it reported in December 2020. This seems to mark a continued trend in people looking to make the jump from the free versions of YouTube and YouTube Music, even as more services are competing in the space.
Google doesn’t break down that 50 million number any further, so we don’t really know how many people are subscribed to YouTube Music or Premium and how many are using the services’ free one-month trial. However, its blog post spends a lot of time talking about music, hailing YouTube as the fastest-growing music-subscription service. Variety also compared Google’s numbers with other streaming services. It reports that Spotify has around 165 million subscribers, and the Financial Times quotes estimates of Apple Music having 78 million. (The last official word was in June 2019 when Apple said its service had passed 60 million subscribers.)
YouTube Music Premium costs $9.99 a month and lets users listen to and download ad-free music. YouTube Premium goes for $11.99 a month and gives subscribers access to all of the benefits of YouTube Music, with the ability to also download and watch regular videos ad-free. Premium subscribers can also have videos play in the background while they’re using another app or their phone is locked. For those who spend a lot of time watching non-music content on the platform, that’s a much better experience for not that much more money.
Google hasn’t commented on what caused the 20 million-subscriber increase, but it’s probably worth keeping in mind that last year’s count was reported right around the time when Google was shutting down its Play Music service. It’s hard to tell how many people were subscribed to it — but both Google Play and YouTube Music reportedly had 15 million subscribers combined in 2019.
Without knowing the breakdown, it’s hard to tell exactly what this means for Google. Were more people interested in letting videos play in the background without ads, or were they looking for an alternative or addition to Spotify and Apple Music? Taking a step back, it’s clear more people are at least interested in YouTube’s paid offerings. While there have been plenty of (admittedly justified) complaints about the glut of video and audio streaming services, it seems there’s still room to grow, if Google is any example.