The Kids Think YouTube Is a Music Service — and They’re Right


Market research firm Nielsen released its latest “Music 360” study this week, bringing a few revelations about how people discover and enjoy music these days. Among them: While only seven percent of music fans of all ages use YouTube to discover music, a whopping 64 percent of teens prefer to do their music listening on YouTube — more than on any other medium.

Radio, iTunes, and old-fashioned CDs took the next three spots, which means YouTube is by far the most popular music streaming service among these adults of the future. (Music player apps also scored well in the survey, with 54 percent of those surveyed reporting that they had at least one music app installed on their phones.)

So, does that make YouTube a music service? Warner Music Group seems to think so. In its widely-circulated earnings report, the major label reported that 25 percent of its digital revenue came from streaming service in the last quarter — about $54 million, according to AllThingsD. As AllThingsD mentioned in an update to that article, this streaming number includes streams on YouTube, which that article says constitutes “a significant income source for some corners of the business,” as well as its sister site Vevo.

Indeed, Google’s YouTube pays labels quite a bit when they “monetize” their videos by running pre-roll, overlaid, and display advertisements around the labels videos — even if the songs are used as the soundtrack to someone’s wedding video. Why can Google afford to license music while Grooveshark cannot? Well, Google is Google — and besides, videos garner higher ad rates than anything else online.

Let’s put these pieces together: Young people primarily use YouTube to listen to music, while WMG, the major label most notorious for resisting free online music, points to streaming services, including video, as constituting an ever-increasing percentage of revenue overall.

It’s time to stop thinking of YouTube as just a video service, and start thinking of it as a music service — especially among teens. Out of the top ten YouTube videos of all time, according to ReadWriteWeb, only one — “Charlie Bit My Finger – Again!” is not music. Other than that, it’s Bieber, Lopez, Shakira, Gaga, Eminem (twice), LMFAO, Michel Teló, and Don Omar.

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