As far as advertising is concerned, two largely data oriented narratives have dominated recent headlines. GDPR and Facebook. However, it's what has been going on rather more behind the scenes that could result in the greatest tangible change for brands and consumers.
Music streaming services have been building momentum for years. We're all familiar with Spotify's model - offering a free version accompanied with ads, and a paid ad-free option. But between Apple and Spotify, this area has always been looked at as somewhat duopolised and immature.
Now, YouTube is throwing its hat into the ring. While the platform already supports artists in generating billions of free views of music videos, the idea of it being used exclusively for audio has never quite materialised before.
Google is intent on giving brands, consumers and musicians options. It's already heralded as a great move by the music industry, which is keen to see greater competition in music distribution. But it's going to be an uphill battle for user numbers according to Goldman Sachs analyst, Heather Bellini.
This is the good news for consumers. Knowing it's going into a pitched battle with Spotify and Apple, YouTube's pre-exisiting knowledge of video viewership could provide significant value in an environment where services differentiate based on discovery and personalisation.
For brands, this capability offers huge new potential to engage audiences through the media they consume. Equally, the challenges of tapping streaming audiences desperate to skip ads are ones YouTube has been helping brands overcome for over a decade now. This tallies up to quite an edge over the competition.
But don't forget the other players on the horizon. In July 2017, Facebook snapped up copyright identification start-up Source3. Throughout the year it hunted for numerous senior positions relating to music licencing, after poaching Tamara Hrivnak, former director of music partnerships at YouTube. Social media’s laser-focus on user growth and engagement means that it will surely push for freely accessible music for its users.
However these rivals perform, the advent of social music is upon us. The data rules and regulations are vitally important to setting the groundwork here. But what comes after and how it changes our experiences will be far more entertaining to watch.
Google is looking to dismantle the Spotify-Apple “duopoly” in music distribution, overhauling its music service this week in the fourth attempt at convincing YouTube’s billions of users to pay.