UPDATE: YouTube just announced its streaming music service, YouTube Music Key, today. The service is launching in beta, providing the ad-free music, background play, and offline viewing that we speculated below. Subscribing to the service (discounted from $9.99/month to a promotional price of $7.99/month right now) also provides a Google Play Music subscription, which has access to over 30 million songs.
Of course, there’s no word yet on Canadian availability, and tellingly, the YouTube Music Key link provided is currently inaccessible from Canada. For its part, YouTube says that its focused on “launching YouTube Music Key as a beta with our biggest music fans first, and then we’ll bring YouTube Music Key to the whole world together.” If the Google Play Music rollout is any indication, we may be waiting for awhile.
At the Code/Mobile conference last month, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki confirmed to CNet that the company was working on a subscription music video service, but didn’t offer any indication of a release timeline.
According to a Financial Times report, YouTube has moved one step closer to eventually releasing the service. The report states that YouTube has signed a contract with Merlin, an independent music trade group that represents over 2,000 indie labels.
While the news has led some to speculate that YouTube is now free to launch the service in the coming weeks, timelines remain unconfirmed. When the service does launch, however, it should provide ad-free access, as well as offline caching for mobile devices.