Trump’s Election Day YouTube takeover plan feels very different in 2020

According to a report from Bloomberg, the Trump campaign called dibs on some of the most prized ad space online in the days leading up to the 2020 U.S. election.

Starting in early November and continuing onto Election Day itself, the campaign will reportedly command YouTube’s masthead, the space at the very top of the video sharing site’s homepage. YouTube is now the second most popular website globally after the online video platform overtook Facebook in web traffic back in 2018. Bloomberg didn’t report the details of the purchase, but the YouTube masthead space is reported to cost as much as a million dollars a day.

The Trump campaign’s ad buy is likely to rub the president’s many critics the wrong way, but it isn’t unprecedented. In 2012, the Obama campaign bought the same space before Mitt Romney landed the Republican nomination. It’s also not a first for the Trump campaign, which bought banner ads at the top of YouTube last June to send its own message during the first Democratic debate.

Screenshot of the Trump campaign’s June 2019 YouTube ads via NPR/YouTube

In spite of the precedent, 2020 is a very different year for political money flowing to tech companies — one with a great degree of newfound scrutiny. The big tech platforms are still honing their respective rules for political advertising as November inches closer, but the kinks are far from ironed out and the awkward dance between politics and tech continues.

The fluidity of the situation is a boon to campaigns eager to plow massive amounts of cash into tech platforms. Facebook remains under scrutiny for its willingness to accept money for political ads containing misleading claims, even as the company is showered in cash by 2020 campaigns. Most notable among them is the controversial candidacy of multi-billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who spent a whopping $33 million on Facebook alone in the last 30 days. In spite of its contentious political ad policies, much-maligned Facebook offers a surprising degree of transparency around what runs on its platform through its robust political ad library, a tool that arose out of the controversy surrounding the 2016 U.S. election.

On the other end of the spectrum, Twitter opted to ban political ads altogether, and is currently working on a way to label “synthetic or manipulated media” intended to mislead users — an effort that could flag non-paid content by candidates, including a recent debate video doctored by the Bloomberg campaign. Twitter is working through its own policy issues in a relatively public way, embracing trial-and-error rather than carving its rules in stone.

Unlike Twitter, YouTube will continue to run political ads, but did mysteriously remove a batch of 300 Trump campaign ads last year without disclosing what policy the ads had violated. Google also announced that it would limit election ad targeting to a few high-level categories (age, gender and ZIP code), a decision the Trump campaign called the “muzzling of political speech.” In spite of its strong stance on microtargeting, Google’s policies around allowing lies in political ads fall closer to Facebook’s anything-goes approach. Google makes a few exceptions, disallowing “misleading claims about the census process” and “false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process,” the latter of which leaves an amphitheater-sized amount of room for interpretation.

In recent years, much of the criticism around political advertising has centered around the practice of microtargeting ads to hyper-specific sets of users, a potent technique made possible by the amount of personal data collected by modern social platforms and a strategy very much back in action in 2020. While Trump’s campaign leveraged that phenomenon to great success in 2016, Trump’s big YouTube ad buy is just one part of an effort to see what sticks, advertising to anybody and everybody in the splashiest spot online in the process.

YouTube declined to confirm to TechCrunch the Trump campaign’s reported ad buy, but noted that the practice of buying the YouTube masthead is “common” during elections.

“In the past, campaigns, PACs, and other political groups have run various types of ads leading up to election day,” the spokesperson said. “All advertisers follow the same process and are welcome to purchase the masthead space as long as their ads comply with our policies.”

Study of YouTube comments finds evidence of radicalization effect

Research presented at the ACM FAT 2020 conference in Barcelona today supports the notion that YouTube’s platform is playing a role in radicalizing users via exposure to far-right ideologies.

The study, carried out by researchers at Switzerland’s Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne and the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, found evidence that users who engaged with a middle ground of extreme right-wing content migrated to commenting on the most fringe far-right content.

A March 2018 New York Times article by sociologist, Zeynep Tufekci, set out the now widely reported thesis that YouTube is a radicalization engine. While follow up reporting by journalist Kevin Roose told a compelling tale of the personal experience of an individual, Caleb Cain, who described falling down an “alt right rabbit hole” on YouTube. But researcher Manoel Horta Ribeiro, who was presenting the paper today, said the team wanted to see if they could find auditable evidence to support such anecdotes.

Their paper, called Auditing radicalization pathways on YouTube, details a large scale study of YouTube looking for traces of evidence — in likes, comments and views — that certain right-leaning YouTube communities are acting as gateways to fringe far-right ideologies.

Per the paper, they analyzed 330,925 videos posted on 349 channels — broadly classifying the videos into four types: Media, the Alt-lite, the Intellectual Dark Web (I.D.W.), and the Alt-right — and using user comments as a “good enough” proxy for radicalization (their data-set included 72 million comments).

The findings suggest a pipeline effect over a number of years where users who started out commenting on alt-lite/IDW YouTube content shifted to commenting on extreme far-right content on the platform over time.

While the rate of overlap between consumers of Media content and the alt-right was found to be far lower.

“A significant amount of commenting users systematically migrates from commenting exclusively on milder content to commenting on more extreme content,” they write in the paper. “We argue that this finding provides significant evidence that there has been, and there continues to be, user radicalization on YouTube, and our analyses of the activity of these communities… is consistent with the theory that more extreme content ‘piggybacked’ on the surge in popularity of I.D.W. and Alt-lite content… We show that this migration phenomenon is not only consistent throughout the years, but also that it is significant in its absolute quantity.”

The researchers were unable to determine the exact mechanism involved in migrating YouTube users from consuming ‘alt lite’ politics to engaging with the most fringe and extrene far right ideologies — citing a couple of key challenges on that front: Limited access to recommendation data; and the study not taking into account personalization (which can affect a user’s recommendations on YouTube).

But even without personalization they say they were “still able to find a path in which users could find extreme content from large media channels”.

During a conference Q&A after presenting the paper, Horta Ribeiro was asked what evidence they had that the radicalization effect the study identifies had occurred through YouTube, rather than via some external site — or because the people in question were more radicalized to begin with (and therefore more attracted to extreme ideologies) vs the notion of YouTube itself being an active radicalization pipeline.

He agreed it’s difficult to make an absolute claim that YouTube is to blame. But also argued that, as host to these communities, the platform is responsible.

“We do find evident traces of user radicalization, and I guess the question asks why is YouTube responsible for this? And I guess the answer would be because many of these communities they live on YouTube and they have a lot of their content on YouTube and that’s why YouTube is so deeply associated with it,” he said.

“In a sense I do agree that it’s very hard to make the claim that the radicalization is due to YouTube or due to some recommender system or that the platform is responsible for that. It could be that something else is leading to this radicalization and in that sense I think that the analysis that we make it shows there is this process of users going from milder channels to more extreme ones. And this solid evidence towards radicalization because people that were not exposed to this radical content become exposed. But it’s hard to make strong causal claims — like YouTube is responsible for that.”

We reached out to YouTube for a response to the research but the company did not reply to our questions.

The company has tightened its approach towards certain far right and extremist content in recent years, in the face of growing political and public pressure over hate speech, targeted harassment and radicalization risks.

It has also been experimenting with reducing algorithmic amplification of certain types of potentially damaging nonsense content that falls outside its general content guidelines — such as malicious conspiracy theories and junk science.

YouTube launches Profile cards that show a user’s comment history

Last September, YouTube began testing a new feature called profile cards, which showed a user’s public information and comment history on the current channel. The feature was touted as a way for creators to more easily identify their biggest fans by offering easy access to their past comments. Now, YouTube is launching the product to the general public, initially on Android.

YouTube hopes the new feature will help users “explore comments, build connections with others, and contribute to a more welcoming YouTube overall,” the company explains.

To use Profile cards, you’ll just tap on the profile picture of anyone who’s commenting to view their card. Here, information like their name, profile photo, subscriptions, subscriber counts, and recent comments will appear in a pop-up card. All this information is publicly available on YouTube, but the Profile card consolidates it in one place.

If you’re already subscribed to the commenter’s channel, the Profile card will indicate this; otherwise, you can click the red “Subscribe” link to start following the commenter on YouTube.

To be clear, the comment history that displays isn’t a user’s full YouTube comment history (though that would be interesting!). Instead, the Profile card only shows the comments on the channel you’re viewing when you click to view the card.

A link to the commenter’s channel is also included, towards the bottom.

While YouTube has promoted the feature as a way to connect with community members and identify a channel’s best commenters, it could also be useful for identifying trolls. Being able to see the commenter’s history on the channel can help creators or moderators make more informed decisions about whether future comments from the same users should be hidden, or if the user is trustworthy enough to earn a spot on the “approved users” list, for example.

When the feature launched into testing this fall, feedback was largely positive — especially since some see it as a way to help raise their own channel’s profile by being an active commenter. More recent feedback, however, has a few users asking for an opt-out option so their comments aren’t shown, citing concerns about out-of-context remarks or privacy issues.

YouTube says the feature is available now on Android and will launch on other devices in the future.

Profile cards are one of a few changes launching on YouTube. Also new are optional topics in the Subscriptions feed on iOS, which make it easier for subscribers to filter their subscriptions by topics like “Today,” “Unwatched,” “Live,” “Posts,” “Continue Watching,” and more.

Plex’s secret weapon: cross-media integrations

Plex’s expansion beyond a home media organizer to becoming a centralized platform for all your media, gives the company a distinct advantage. By tying all media together under one roof — streaming music, podcasts, web shows and video of all sorts — Plex is able to add interesting and unique features around personalization and recommendations.

We’re only beginning to see some of the results of these sorts of integrations now.

To start, Plex today is leveraging its TIDAL music partnership to highlight which songs appear in a TV show, episode or movie they’re watching. Currently, this works for library content only, but Plex told TechCrunch at CES this week that the feature soon will work for AVOD [ad-supported video on demand] content as well shows and movies recorded to their cloud DVR via a digital antenna.

In the months ahead, Plex will begin to roll out more cross-media integrations, it says.

YouTube starts limiting ad targeting and data collection on kids content

YouTube now officially limits the amount of data it and creators can collect on content intended for children, following promises made in November and a costly $170 million FTC fine in September. Considering how lucrative kids’ content is for the company, this could have serious financial ramifications for both it and its biggest creators.

The main change is, as announced in November, that for all content detected or marked as being for kids, viewers will be considered children no matter what. Even if you’re a verified, paying YouTube Premium customer (we know you’re out there) your data will be sanitized as if YouTube thinks you’re a 10-year-old kid.

There are plenty of reasons for this, most of them to do with avoiding liability. It’s just the safer path for the company to make the assumption that anyone viewing kids’ content is a kid — but it comes with unfortunate consequences.

Reduced data collection means no targeted ads. And targeted ads are much more valuable than ordinary ones. So this is effectively a huge revenue hit to anyone making children’s content — for instance YouTube’s current top-earning creator, Ryan Kaji (a kid himself).

It also limits the insights creators can have on their viewers, crucial information for anyone hoping to understand their demographics and improve their metrics. Engagement drivers like comments and notifications are also disabled, to channels’ detriment.

Google for its part says that it is “committed to helping creators navigate this new landscape and to supporting our ecosystem of family content.” How exactly it plans to do that isn’t clear; Many have already complained that the system is not clear and that this could be a death sentence for kids’ channels on YouTube.

Now that the policy is official we’ll probably soon hear exactly how it is impacting creators and what if anything Google actually does to mitigate that.

Over 100 PBS local stations start streaming today on YouTube TV

Earlier this year, PBS announced it had secured streaming agreements for its member stations on YouTube’s live TV service, YouTube TV. Today, that deal goes live. PBS says over 100 of its local stations are now available on YouTube TV by way of dedicated live channels for both PBS and PBS Kids, as well through on-demand programming.

More stations are expected to be added in 2020, PBS notes.

YouTube TV’s service is available to 75% of U.S. households, significantly broadening PBS’ reach among cord-cutters.

Before today, PBS programming has been available through the PBS.org and PBSKids.org websites, as well as the PBS Video app and PBS Kids app for iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung TV, and Chromecast. Some of its programming has also been available on-demand via channels offered by Amazon and Apple as well as through popular on-demand streaming services, like Netflix.

And of course, U.S. households can also pick up their local PBS station’s signal for free via their digital antenna, or subscribe to cable or satellite TV to access PBS channels.

But YouTube TV is the first live TV service to offer PBS stations directly in its app.

The partnership brings live and on-demand content including the stations’ locally produced shows and PBS favorites, like “American Experience,” “Antiques Roadshow,” “Frontline,” “Great Performances,” “Masterpiece,” “Nature,” and others. The kids’ stations, meanwhile, offer shows like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Molly of Denali,” “Odd Squad,” “Pinkalicious & Peterrific,” “Wild Kratts,” and “Sesame Street.”

It’s worth noting, however, that it’s HBO Max, not PBS, that will be the new streaming home to first-run “Sesame Street” episodes starting in 2020. PBS gets them at some later point.

“Every year, more and more households are seeking alternative ways to view their favorite PBS programs,” said PBS Chief Digital and Marketing Officer, Ira Rubenstein, in a statement. “PBS is committed to making trusted content available to all households across as many platforms as possible. We are pleased that YouTube TV recognizes public television’s unique structure and worked with us to provide our viewers with more ways to watch the programs that they love through their local PBS station.”

It’s not likely that losing access to PBS has stopped many people from cutting the cord, the way that the lack of live sports has, in years past. In fact, today’s streaming services like Prime Video and Netflix offer a range of “PBS-like” content, including educational kids’ shows, nature documentaries, musical performances, news, history and more. But the addition will make it easier for cord-cutters who prefer to watch TV through streaming services to access PBS.

“We are excited to partner with PBS on this unique partnership to further our commitment to providing a best-in-class experience for our users,” said Lori Conkling, Global Head of Partnerships at YouTube TV. “PBS and PBS Kids are highly requested channels by our users, and we’re thrilled to be able to add these to the YouTube TV lineup starting today,” she said.

YouTube Music adds three new personalized playlists, including its Spotify Discover Weekly rival

YouTube Music is taking on Spotify, Apple Music and others with the launch of three personalized playlists, including its own version of Spotify’s Discover Weekly, called Discover Mix, as well as a New Release Mix and Your Mix. Discover Mix had been spotted in the wild during testing, but now all three are globally available to YouTube Music users.

The company’s plans to introduce these new mixes were announced this fall at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019, where YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan spoke about the service’s plans to utilize a combination of machine learning and human curation to improve the music service’s offerings.

The Discover Mix is very much like Spotify’s Discover Weekly, as it will focus on helping users uncover new artists and music they like, including tracks you’ve never listened to before as well as lesser-known tracks from artists you already love. But unlike on competitor music services, this playlist can leverage historical listening data on both YouTube Music and on YouTube itself.

The mix, which updates every Wednesday, will give listeners 50 tracks per week.

The New Release Mix, as you can guess, focuses on all the recent releases by your favorite artists and others YouTube thinks you’ll like. This one drops every Friday, as most new releases do, but will add other tracks mid-week as needed.

Finally, Your Mix is a playlist that combines the music you love with songs you haven’t heard yet but will probably like, based on your listening habits. This one updates regularly to stay fresh.

Of course, the longer you listen on YouTube Music, the better the mixes will get. But YouTube says it can offer personalized mixes as soon as a user selects a couple of artists they like during the setup process or after they listen to a couple of songs.

The mixes arrive at a time when Google is more heavily investing in its streaming music service. Earlier this fall, it made YouTube Music the default music app that ships with new Android devices, instead of Google Play Music. And recently, reports indicate that YouTube Music is ahead of Spotify and JioSaavn in India, a key market for Spotify, despite its late entry.

The new mixes are live today on YouTube Music across iOS, Android, and the web.

How the founder of Pocketwatch sees the future of children’s entertainment

When Chris Williams founded entertainment platform Pocketwatch in 2017, he was certain that no one had yet found the right way to work with the generation of children’s talent finding its audience on platforms like YouTube.

Convinced that packaging creators under one umbrella and leveraging the expanding reach of even more media platforms could reshape the way children’s content was produced, the former Maker Studios and Disney executive launched his company to offer emerging social media talent more avenues to create entertainment that resonates with young audiences.

On the back of the breakout success of Ryan’s World, a YouTube channel which counted 33.6 billion views and more than 22 million subscribers as of early November, it appears that Williams was on the right track. As he looks out at the children’s media landscape today, Williams says he sees the same forces at work that compelled him to create the business in the first place. If anything, he says, the trends are only accelerating.

The first is the exodus of children from traditional linear viewing platforms to on-demand entertainment. The rise of subscription streaming services, including Disney+, HBO Max and Apple Plus — combined with the continued demand for new children’s programming on Netflix — is creating a bigger market for children’s programming.

“If you’re a subscription-based service, what kids’ content does for you is it prevents churn,” says Williams.

That’s drawing attention from new, ad-supported streaming providers like the Roku Channel, PlutoTV and SamsungTV Plus, which are also thirsty for children’s storytelling. Williams says he sees fertile ground for new programming among the ad-based, video-on-demand services. “Kids and family content tends to be the most highly engaging that creates consumption in homes. That creates a lot of opportunities for advertisers.”

The Roku Channel and Viacom’s PlutoTV service show that there’s still demand for ad-supported, on-demand alternatives that are more curated than just YouTube. It’s a potential opportunity for more startups, as well as an opportunity for studios looking to pitch their talent and programming.

“When we’ve launched a new 24-7 video channel and AVOD library and omni services… [we] know that content is surrounded by other premium content,” says Williams.

For all of the opportunities these new platforms bring, Williams says YouTube isn’t going anywhere as one of the dominant new forces in children’s entertainment,  despite its many, many woes. In fact, one of Williams’ new initiatives at Pocketwatch is predicated on changes that YouTube is seemingly making in terms of the programming that it promotes with its algorithms.

YouTube asks the FTC to clarify how video creators should comply with COPPA ruling

YouTube is asking the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for further clarification and better guidance to help video creators understand how to comply with the FTC’s guidelines set forth as part of YouTube’s settlement with the regulator over its violations of children’s privacy laws. The FTC in September imposed a historic fine of $170 million for YouTube’s violations of COPPA (the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). It additionally required YouTube creators to now properly identify any child-directed content on the platform.

To comply with the ruling, YouTube created a system where creators could either label their entire channel as child-directed, or they could identify only certain videos as being directed at children, as needed. Videos that are considered child-directed content would then be prohibited from collecting personal data from viewers. This limited creators’ ability to leverage Google’s highly profitable behavioral advertising technology on videos kids were likely to watch.

As a result, YouTube creators have been in an uproar since the ruling, arguing that it’s too difficult to tell the difference between what’s child-directed content and what’s not. Several popular categories of YouTube videos — like gaming, toy reviews and family vlogging, for instance — fall under gray areas, where they’re watched by children and adults alike. But because the FTC’s ruling left creators held liable for any future violations, YouTube could only advise creators to consult a lawyer to help them work through the ruling’s impact on their own channels.

Today, YouTube says it’s asking the FTC to provide more clarity.

“Currently, the FTC’s guidance requires platforms must treat anyone watching primarily child-directed content as children under 13. This does not match what we see on YouTube, where adults watch favorite cartoons from their childhood or teachers look for content to share with their students,” noted YouTube in an announcement. “Creators of such videos have also conveyed the value of product features that wouldn’t be supported on their content. For example, creators have expressed the value of using comments to get helpful feedback from older viewers. This is why we support allowing platforms to treat adults as adults if there are measures in place to help confirm that the user is an adult viewing kids’ content,” the company said.

Specifically, YouTube wants the FTC to clarify what’s to be done when adults are watching kids’ content. It also wants to know what’s to be done about content that doesn’t intentionally target kids — like videos in the gaming, DIY and art space, for example — if those videos end up attracting a young audience. Are these also to be labeled “made for kids,” even though that’s not their intention?, YouTube asks.

The FTC had shared some guidance in November, which YouTube passed along to creators. But YouTube says it’s not enough as it doesn’t help creators to understand what’s to be done about this “mixed audience” content.

YouTube says it supports platforms treating adults who view primarily child-directed video content as adults, as long as there are measures in place to help confirm the user is an adult. It didn’t suggest what those measures would be, though possibly this could involve users logged in to an adult-owned Google account or perhaps an age-gate measure of some sort.

YouTube submitted its statements as a part of the FTC’s comment period on the agency’s review of the COPPA Rule, which has been extended until December 11, 2019. The FTC is giving commenters additional time to submit comments and an alternative mechanism to file them as the federal government’s Regulations.gov portal is temporarily inaccessible. Instead, commenters can submit their thoughts via email to the address [email protected], with the subject line “COPPA comment.” These must be submitted before 11:59 PM ET on December 11, the FTC says.

YouTube’s announcement, however, pointed commenters to the FTC’s website, which isn’t working right now.

“We strongly support COPPA’s goal of providing robust protections for kids and their privacy. We also believe COPPA would benefit from updates and clarifications that better reflect how kids and families use technology today, while still allowing access to a wide range of content that helps them learn, grow and explore. We continue to engage on this issue with the FTC and other lawmakers (we previously participated in the FTC’s public workshop) and are committed to continue [sic] doing so,” said YouTube.

Apple Music dives deeper into concert streaming with Billie Eilish

As music streaming apps struggle to differentiate, Apple is making concert video a more central part of its strategy with tonight’s big Billie Eilish show at its HQ’s Steve Jobs Theater. The Apple Music Awards concert will be streaming live and then on-demand to Apple Music’s 60 million subscribers. Apple would like to do more of these streamed concerts in the near future.

You can stream Apple’s Billie Eilish concert here

Beyond the concert streaming, Apple is looking to strengthen its perception as an ally to art and artists. Given Apple Music is just a tiny fraction of the iPhone maker’s massive revenues, it can look overly corporate and capitalistic compared to music-only competitors like Spotify that some see as more aligned with the success of musicians.

To grow its subscriber count amongst serious listeners and earn points with creators, Apple Music can’t look like it’s just designed to sell more Apple hardware. So tonight Apple is hoping to show its respect for artists, handing out its first Apple Music Awards. Billie Eilish has won artist of the year and Songwriter Of The Year (with her brother Finneas), while Lizzo is taking home Breakthrough Artist Of The Year. Additionally, based on Apple Music streaming counts, Eilish’s ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” has won Album Of The Year, and Lil Was X’s ‘Old Town Road’ is the Song Of The Year.

The award statues themselves are specially-crafted Apple artifacts, featuring overwrought design like you see in those WWDC videos of robots making gadgets. They start with a single 12-inch disc of nanometer-level flat silicon wafer — the same kind used to power Apple’s iPhones. Copper layers are patterned with ultraviolet lithography to etch connections between the billions of transistors on the wafer. It’s then sliced into hundreds of individual chips and lined up during the months-long process to create a reflective trophy suspended between glass and anodized aluminum. In what’s sure to become a kooky collector’s item, each award is packaged with its own special Apple spirit level and mounting screws for classy installation.

The hope seems to be that both the winners and their fellow artists will come away with the perception that Apple truly cares about music. That, plus Apple Music’s scale, could help convince them to share more links to their songs on the streaming service and feature their profile there ahead of their presences on competing listening apps.

On the concert front, Apple started holding its yearly Apple Music Festival, formerly the iTunes Festival, back in 2007. But after a blow-out 10th year where Apple streamed shows from Britney Spears, Elton John, and Chance the Rapper, it discontinued the event in 2017. Apple Music launched a dedicated Music Videos tab last year, but has done less recently with concert streaming other than a few events with Tyler, The Creator and Shawn Mendes. These concert videos can be tough to find inside Apple Music.

Yet this represents a massive opportunity for Apple. Across music streaming services, catalogs are becoming more uniform, everyone is copying each other’s personalized playlists and discovery mechanisms, and many are embracing radio and podcasts. Meanwhile, paying for exclusive music or whole artists has fallen out of fashion compared to a few years ago. Fragmenting the music catalog is hostile towards listeners, can be harmful for artists who lose out on mass distribution, and it can engender backlash from artists fans’ who don’t want to pay for multiple redundant streaming services.

Streaming concert videos, which typically aren’t available beyond shaky camera phone footage, feel additive to the music ecosystem. If platforms are willing to pay to shoot and produce the videos, they can be powerful differentiators. And if the recorded shows look unique from the typical tours, as with the tree-covered stage for tonight’s Billie Eilish show at Apple headquarters, they keep fans glued to their screens. Video viewing can lead users to develop more affinity for whichever company is broadcasting the shows compared to multi-tasking while they merely listen to a generic app.

Apple is already ahead of competitors like Spotify that do very little on the concert video front. Streaming more shows like tonight’s could help it better rival YouTube Music, which integrates traditional music streaming with a broad array of rarities, music videos, and streamed concerts like Coachella. Apple is also fortunate to have a global retail and office footprint that could help it throw and record more shows with fewer logistical headaches.

To date, Apple Music has leaned on its pre-installations on the company’s phones, tablets, and computers plus its free trial system to drive growth. But if it can spot holes in the industry’s content offering, leverage its deep pockets to invest in premium video, and prove to artists that it cares, Apple Music could build a brand separate from and with more street cred than Apple itself.