YouTube wants in on the music game and Lyor Cohen, the former Warner Music executive who took over as the head of music at YouTube in 2016, is committed to the mission. This week Cohen has been profiled in Ad Age, where he discusses YouTube’s focus on collaborating with the music industry in some direct fashion. “Trying to bring the bosses, the key stakeholders close to the blue flame is part of my job,” Cohen told the publication. “I’m happy to walk them through the music industry, bring context and put them in front of people.”
When Cohen was asked what he can offer musicians, managers and label bosses, he cut right to the chase and said, “We’re going to make you rich and famous.” An empty pull quote if there ever was one.
Of course professionals (and just like, human beings) across the music industry would love if that were the case, but it remains to be seen: In the same piece, celebrity musician manager Irving Azoff describes YT’s archaic copyright laws—the very same that screws billions from artists—with “The labels thought it was a cruel April Fool’s joke.”
YouTube is rumored to start their own streaming service this year and, as Ad Age points out, the platform will service music outside of its free tier. So, yes, at some point money will be exchanged and we will be expected to pay to access music on YouTube, but who knows what it’ll even look like. At this point, any song posted online usually finds its way to Youtube, so it’ll be interesting to see how the service attempts to curb pirating and actually make money, let alone elevate musicians to the “rich and famous” level.
Never mind all the other questions this inspires! If YouTube’s streaming service operates behind a pay wall for specific songs, will major competitor Spotify be forced into doing the same? Until YouTube music streaming exists, all the industry can do is wait on Cohen’s promise of fame and wealth. What a world.