Last month Google launched their music streaming platform, YouTube Music. The premium service allows users to stream tracks; listen to playlists and receive tailored music recommendations.

The launch has prompted an overhaul of the charts. Since streaming overtook downloads and physical sales in early 2017 (1), we’ve seen the music landscape continue to shift. Arguably the most famous example being last year, when the Official Chart Company announced changes to the way streaming data is processed in light of Ed Sheeran’s Divide taking up 16 of the Top 20 singles in its week of release (2). Now, with the introduction of YouTube Music, the rules around streaming will change again. From the chart week that the service was introduced, there will now be a distinction made between ‘free’ views or streams (now valued at 600:1) and returning to 100:1 for premium users (3).
As 40% of all music streaming in the UK currently occurs on YouTube (4), will the introduction the new service and the chart changes change the landscape as we know it?

The demographic who will potentially have the most interesting part to play is Gen Z. YouTube is a huge brand for this audience – it’s reported that it is one of the six most popular apps for teenagers (5). Incidentally Spotify or Apple Music don’t get a look in – the other five are made up of either social media or messaging apps. With such a stronghold in this market, will we start to see the more mainstream success of artists or even genres that themselves skew younger?

Interestingly, however, the OCC believe that virality won’t be a way to guarantee a hit – arguing that in the case of the recent Childish Gambino video ‘This Is America’ which garnered a huge amount of chatter online, under the new chart rules the views on YouTube would have moved the track up a maximum of three or four places higher (6).
While we wait to see what impact the new service has upon the charts, Google themselves (of course) stand to be the obvious winner. The messaging used in the ad campaign for the service makes YouTube the single destination for all the content a fan could want – music videos, live performances and now the album itself.

Additionally, with the Google Home gaining popularity, and 32% of consumers using the device to play music (7), the integration of a music streaming service is another way of increasing time spent in the Google universe.


(5)U.S. True to Selfie. Cassandra Study commissioned by Snap Inc.
(7)YouGov Profiles 5th February 2018