Alongside Spotify, Pandora, Apple and Amazon, Youtube has announced the launch of its highly anticipated subscription music service.
The subscription service, called YouTube Music Key, will operate in two parts: a new desktop and mobile-friendly system to listen to music for free and a paid version that removes ads and will allow users to listen to music offline.
The subscription service will enable various mobile features including the ability to play YouTube music while sending texts or doing other activities on a phone and listen to music offline.
YouTube says Music Key will be invite-only for the time being, with six months free followed by a promotional price of US$7.99 per month. The regular price on its broad release will be US$9.99, the same as Spotify. Google Play Music subscribers will also have access to Music Key.
It will launch in invite-only beta form on November 17, and will be bundled with Google Play, the streaming service run by parent company Google.
As well as the subscription service, YouTube has done an overhaul of how the site organises and presents it collection of free music. Under the Music tab on the YouTube homepage, users will be better able to organise and look through songs and videos. There will also be an option that allows for continuous listening based off a choice of song or artist.
New licensing deals means unofficial streams posted by regular users are now more likely to disappear, replaced by official uploads from labels who will then receive a portion of ad revenue from the resulting views.
The company says "until today you couldn’t easily find and play full albums. In the coming days, you'll be able to see an artist’s discography on YouTube, and play a full album with both their official music videos and high-quality songs our music partners added to YouTube."
The subscription service is not yet public. It is set to begin an invite-only six-month beta test in the next couple weeks, with broader availability coming in early 2015.