A set of leaked screenshots suggests Google is preparing to combine elements of YouTube and Google Play Music All Access into a new streaming music service.
A batch of web domains Google has snapped up confirms the YouTube Music Key branding. The name was seen in screenshots published by Android Police.
YouTube Music Key is rumored to deliver ad-free music with the ability to play content offline or in the background as other apps run, all for a monthly fee of $9.99 -- though a free version of the service could help Google make use of the recently acquired Directr, a video-editing app. Users curious about the service, but not ready to commit, will have access to a standard 30-day trial of the streaming service.
"Watch concerts, covers and remixes," states the leaked material. "Get deeper into your top artists or discover new takes on your favorite songs. Whatever you find, Music Key lets you collect the videos for playback any time, without an Internet connection."
Google has added more than 20 million audio tracks to provide YouTube Music Key with a bit more girth. A subscription to the service will also grant users access to Google Play Music All Access, which was rumored to be re-branded as Google Play Music Key.
The domains Google has bought up support the information leaked through Android Police's screenshots. Some of the domains include "youtubemusickey.com," "musickey.jp" and "musickey.co.uk."
Rumors of a music subscription service for YouTube stem back to 2013.
"While we don't comment on rumor or speculation, there are some content creators that think they would benefit from a subscription revenue stream in addition to ads, so we're looking at that," said Google in 2013.
Evidence of Google's plans to develop a subscription service for YouTube emerged this June when artists and musicians began alleging that the company was attempting to strong-arm them into signing up to a new streaming model.
Helienne Lindvall, a songwriter and a journalist, was part of a group that approached the European Commission with a grievance about a music subscription service from Google.
"Our music is being bargained with, and all we can do is see the result in paltry royalty rates. YouTube already pays the lowest royalty rates on my royalty statement, and now they want to drive the audio streaming rate down as well," said Lindvall. "I feel that now, if YouTube succeeds in what they're intending to do, we will have almost a complete monopoly in the music streaming scene. For us, if we think royalties are bad now, they're going to be even worse then. This is an emergency."