Google-owned YouTube launched its music streaming services in the Middle East and North Africa market on Tuesday.
The YouTube music streaming services will initially be available in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon and Oman. The company is offering two services — YouTube Music offers a music streaming application from Dh19.99 per month, while YouTube Premium offers ad-free streaming from Dh23.99 per month. Both services will be available on both Android and iOS operating systems.
“For over a decade, millions of people in the Arab world have come to YouTube to watch, learn and listen. Music is the second most popular category on YouTube [in the region] and it continues to grow,” said Tarek Abdalla, regional director of marketing at Google Middle East and North Africa.
Following its Mena launch, YouTube Music and YouTube Premium are now available in 70 countries globally.
YouTube is offering the services for a free introductory period of three months to users in Saudi Arabia, and one month in the rest of the region. Saudi Arabia is the biggest user of YouTube per capita globally, and the Mena region is among the top five globally for time spent watching YouTube.
The amount of time spent watching music content on YouTube has grown by nearly 60 per cent annually in the past three years, the company said.
“Before launching this service, we have taken utmost care of local flavour, culture and preferences of consumers from this part of the world. There will be a huge library to cater to the needs of all age groups,” T Jay Fowler, director of product management for music products at YouTube told Dubai media through a video conferencing call from California.
“People will enjoy the music they love whether it's through official releases or iconic music videos, bringing artists closer to their fans,” he added.
Regional music labels said the entry of YouTube into the regional music streaming industry will be beneficial and will promote local talent.
"With YouTube Music, we believe Arabic music will be more global, more engaging and have more exposure with all users worldwide," said Ahmed Nureni, vice president of business development at Qanawat, one of the largest digital music companies in the region.
“YouTube has played a key role in our growth and we believe this service will offer a great new experience for avid music listeners.”
Mohsen Gaber, president of Cairo-based Mazzika Music Label, said the service launch would be a “transformative change” that will support the industry, music producers, and artists.
Industry experts expect YouTube’s entry to further intensify the competition in the audiostreaming industry in the region that is already home to major names such as Spotify and Apple Music — two of the most widely-accessed music platforms in the world.
As of January 2019, nearly 50 million people used Apple Music globally. Its closest competitor, Spotify Premium, has nearly 75 million paying subscribers. YouTube did not disclose the number of subscribers to its music services.