Report: YouTube threatens artists for refusing 'industry-lowest' rates for new music service

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Oct 23, 2012
YouTube has been widely expected to launch its own ad-free music subscription service for some time, but not everyone is excited at the prospect. Google, which owns YouTube, has come under fire from artists and independent music labels, accused of attempting to bully them into accepting non-negotiable terms in order to be included in its new service, and then threatening them if they don't agree.

The complaints are being led by Impala, a European body representing independent labels. Impala told BBC News that it intends to request "prompt intervention" from the European Commission to ensure a fairer deal for its members.


Impala contends that YouTube is offering artists and labels "non-negotiable contracts," and that if they fail to agree to the terms presented, their existing videos - already posted on the site - will be blocked or removed from YouTube entirely. Impala, and the Featured Artists Coalition FAC) - a campaign group for musicians' rights - are standing united against YouTube, in the face of what they perceive to be an unfair situation.

Numerous independent labels are being represented in the stand against the company, with these labels themselves representing many well-known artists including Arctic Monkeys, Royksopp, Adele, The xx, Jack White and many more.

According to Chris Cooke, from music industry news site Complete Music Update, "YouTube already pays what are probably the lowest rates in the business for music labels' videos. The majors and independents agreed to that because YouTube isn't just a revenue stream; it's one of the most important promotional platforms in music today."

Cooke added that "what the indies are getting really angry about is that YouTube seems to be threatening to withdraw this powerful promotional platform if they don't sign up to the new audio service."

Given that Spotify says that it pays an average of $0.007 per play to artists, this should give you some idea of little Google is willing to pay. Earning this kind of money per play isn't so bad when you're a widely known artist with a large fan base, but it makes it impossible to earn a decent payout for less established performers. Ed O'Brien - Radiohead guitarist and co-chair of the FAC - said that YouTube is "in danger of launching a streaming service that lacks the innovative and cutting-edge sounds that independent artists bring."

A YouTube spokesperson issued a statement staying that it has "successful deals in place with hundreds of independent and major labels around the world - however, we don't comment on ongoing negotiations."

Source: BBC News
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