Lyor's Letter: One year

Jun 27, 2019 - Culture and Trends

A miracle happened. I was sitting at the UJA luncheon (big shout out to Daniel Glass), where the amazing Lizzo performed. In the middle of her set, the speakers blew. Yes, as in stopped working. But somehow - incredibly - she kept all of us absolutely mesmerized in a voodoo state of awe, rocking a cappella in a way that made the show even more compelling. I asked myself, is this really happening? It made me remember that artists like Lizzo - and the marvel of really great music - are why I’m in this business. It’s what inspires us every single day here, and it’s why, after a year since we launched our subscription product, we’re energized to keep pushing, to keep getting better.

We’re one year in and I love our product. I especially love that it continues to get better every day. There is no question that building a subscription business is not for the faint of heart. Our hats are off to our comrades at Apple, Spotify, and Amazon for building what they have. I’m thrilled to say that in 12 months we’ve brought our service to 50 markets across five continents and YouTube Music & Premium paid subscribers have grown 60% since last March. This is adding a steady revenue stream for artists on top of our growing ad business. We’ve still got a ways to go, but that’s big, and we’re happy with the progress.

YouTube is the most powerful promotional platform on the planet. We want to be the best partner in helping amplify artists around the world. You all know by now how powerful our recommendation system is, and on top of that, we’re expanding our playlisting ecosystem to provide more impact for your artists at scale. We have also gone to work with over 150 of your artists across many countries to launch marketing campaigns around important moments with programs like YouTube Artist Spotlight, Artist On The Rise and Foundry, all of which have helped shine a light on critical moments. Hear this: We want to help you break acts. We want to be easy to access and easy to understand.

We are unrelenting in our work to make YouTube the easiest place for artists and fans to connect. Video has never mattered more in this industry -- you can just feel it. Just look at the success of YouTube Premieres, a product that gathers fans together to watch and discuss their newest music videos in real time. Premieres are radically changing how music video content is released and are turning the viewing experience into an interactive community launch moment. This product, combined with amazing music videos, has created lightning-in-a-bottle moments like the release of Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next,” Taylor Swift’s “ME!” and BLACKPINK’s “Kill This Love,” which set a record for the biggest Premiere to date with over 979,000 fans watching together at once. Over 6 thousand artists have used this new feature to live premiere over 17 thousand videos and connect with millions of fans.

We also want to help people discover or rediscover catalogues. Last week, we teamed up with Universal Music Group to restore 1,000 of the most classic and iconic music videos to current high definition audio and video standards, videos from artists like Billy Idol, Beastie Boys, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, The Killers and Tom Petty. It really brings me joy when the industry comes together to do something great like this; there are lots of winners and no losers.

Remember that old Tortoise and Hare story? Between our subscription business, our advertising business, the direct-to-consumer products we are building and promotional tools, our contribution to the music industry is increasingly being felt by more and more people throughout the world, and we will keep on pushing towards our goals. We are and will be the most significant player in helping the industry mine the value of music. I couldn’t be prouder, or more hopeful.

With Love and Respect,