Since joining YouTube in 2016, music industry big shot Lyor Cohen has focused much of his energy on an upcoming service, tentatively titled Remix. While it’s still not clear what exactly Remix is or when exactly it will premiere, Cohen has offered some hints. The exec delivered a keynote address at SXSW in Austin, and among other topics, he discussed Remix, which he said will combine expansive social features with finely-tuned playlists.
Cohen believes YouTube is at an advantage over potential rivals like Spotify and Apple Music because it can provide “the best of Google Play Music’s context server” with YouTube’s “breadth and depth of catalogue,” TechCrunch reported. By assembling YouTube’s expansive library of songs — which includes music from all of the “Big Three” labels — into smart playlists, Cohen plans to create enough value to drive subscriptions from music fans.
“The industry is going to return and grow by ads and subscriptions,” Cohen said. “There are plenty of leaned-in listeners that are willing to pay. We are going to convert them to paid subscribers…We’re making an enormous investment to launch a product that you will be proud of.”
The premium subscription platform YouTube Red already includes ad-free music streaming as part of its $9.99-per-month package, but Cohen, who has consolidated the YouTube Music and Google Play Music teams over the past year, wants to strengthen YouTube’s offer. Remix, he noted, will combine social features with traditional music streaming service tools.
“Spotify and Apple are pure retailers. Snapchat and Instagram are simply social,” Cohen said. “The most powerful aspect of YouTube is our ability to let the artists, managers, publishers, songwriters, and labels to engage with their fans with no hoops to jump through.”
If those social features can connect musicians to brands, it may be a big win for YouTube’s reputation in the music world. The recording industry has often feuded with the video site regarding royalty-related matters, but Cohen’s presence at YouTube seems to have smoothed out the company’s relationship with labels.
The main question still left unanswered regarding Remix concerns timing. It was initially thought that YouTube might announce the service SXSW, though the video site later denied that rumor. Stay tuned.