YouTube targets Spotify with new 'Music Key' subscription service

Google-owned video site YouTube has started a new premium subscription service, named 'Music Key', to rival market leader Spotify.

Music Key, which costs £9.99 per month, will allow users to stream ad-free music and download tracks for use offline, as well as provide membership to Google Play All Access.

The release of the service had been delayed due to disputes with independent artists and labels, which Google says have resulted in deals being signed with hundreds of indie bands worldwide.

The service will become available to Google’s Android devices first, followed shortly by iOS phones and tablets. As yet there is no news on whether the service will be extended to desktops.

As an added caveat, Music Key will allow users to download recordings of concerts, remixes, cover versions and “unreleased” rare tracks.

“If you listen to both Spotify and YouTube for music, then this is genuinely a reason to switch [to Music Key],” James McQuivey, analyst at the Forrester Research consultancy, told the BBC. “You not only have all the unlimited music but also the ability to move from audio to video.”

Spotify has recently had mega-artist Taylor Swift walk out on its service, along with her catalogue, due to claims that its service doesn't pay artists enough royalties.

Those who opt not to pay for the full service will still gain access to a new home page on YouTube, enabling them to find whole albums of music videos, create playlists and listen to trending tracks and artists.