Quick Take: YouTube Acquires BandPage
Direct to fan platform BandPage today announced that it is being acquired by YouTube. BandPage already integrates with a number of streaming services to sell merchandise, tickets and more for artists directly to fans on streaming platforms. As I’ve written about previously, selling music fans other artist products is a way to square the circle of streaming platforms having large audiences but delivering only modest revenue back to the middle tier of artists. So far though, the promise has failed to materialise. YouTube has the potential to change all that. Currently only 4% of consumers buy products directly from artists but a fifth subscribe to YouTube channels (not just music).
YouTube channels are the subscription success story of the 2010s. Whereas music subscriptions globally now number 67.5 million (see our ‘State Of The Streaming Nation’ report for a break down of that number by individual music service) the top 50 YouTube channels alone have nearly 350 million subscriptions. Now of course there is a massive difference between a $9.99 music subscription and clicking ‘subscribe’ to a YouTuber. But what is clear is that a whole generation of younger consumers are learning the value of building a subscription relationship with their favourite talent. The relationship between a YouTuber and their fans is every bit as strong as that of a singer's / band's / DJ's and their fans. Often more so. Companies like Gleam Futures have done a fantastic job of creating new revenue streams for YouTubers (e.g. Zoella now having sold 5 million novels globally). But that most often relies on fans seeking out other products on different platforms. A tightly integrated BandPage will give YouTubers the ability to tap fan impulse instantaneously, rather than having to push them to an external outlet.
YouTube needs to do this because it is at a major juncture in the evolution of its YouTuber talent. The first generation of native YouTube creators are now getting itchy feet, wanting to spread their wings beyond YouTube and a dependence on ad revenue. But for all the success stories of generating new revenue streams (and there are plenty of them) all YouTubers will admit, grudgingly or otherwise, that no other platform has the audience reach and scale of engagement that YouTube does. Now by adding in BandPage YouTube will be hoping it has just made itself that bit more irreplaceable.
And all this without even mentioning artists. Yes, expect artists to have more success with direct to fan on sales on YouTube because there is simply so much scale. But expect YouTubers to do better!