Google music services are like England World Cup campaigns: they come around every few years, generate a lot of hype and usually end in inglorious failure. Apart from that one time.
YouTube – which, lest we forget, was bought by Google in 2006, rather than launched by them – is the company’s glorious summer of ’66, when everything went right. So the imminent launch of another Google music project still carries huge expectation.
And actually, the signs are looking promising. The new service – possibly called YouTube Remix, possibly called something less 1980s – will combine audio and video, which means it should add some YouTube spice to Google Play’s less distinctive audio offering.
It’s also a subscription service, which should ensure buy-in from even the sectors of the music industry that persist in banging on about the ‘value gap’ at every opportunity.
And, of course, this time around, YouTube has Lyor Cohen as global head of music. Cohen was in town last week, hosting a Q&A with Dua Lipa – one of the new breed of artists for whom YouTube is a vital career component, rather than an under-paying obstacle – meeting the industry and hanging out at the BRITs.
Cohen speaks passionately about the need for music to have multiple options when it comes to distribution, especially in this new global age. And, indeed, while some think the streaming battle is all over, the differing picture internationally means that there’s still plenty to play for. And the unrivalled global recognition for the YouTube brand means they have to be treated as serious contenders.
Mind you, that’s what they said about David Beckham and his so-called golden generation of England players. So instead, let’s look to the less-heralded boys of ’82 for inspiration.
Because this time, more than any other time, Google and YouTube need to get it right.