news category Music Industry created 20 June 2014

YouTube and the independent labels

YouTube logo“With regards to the recent dispute between YouTube and independent labels and the unfavourable terms which Youtube seeks, without negotiation, to impose upon independent record labels, the Music Producers Guild is deeply concerned about Google’s apparent abuse of its monopoly and associated market power and the adverse affect this will have on the wider industry and funds available for innovative and creative content production in the future.

Independent record producers everywhere, in common with recording artists, rely upon the income from sales and streaming of music files, the production of which they have been responsible, often with little or no credit (itself ironic in this digital age). Attempts by international media conglomerates to throttle negotiation and impose unfavourable and unjust terms upon independent record companies, whom they perceive to be “small fry” and thus “fair game”, should be opposed at every opportunity.” (MPG press release – June ’14)

There have been many articles in the press about this issue – few of them containing facts, and many containing opinions posing as facts. These points remain clear:

• YouTube has negotiated with the major labels, and has offered a lousy deal to the independent labels, but is refusing to negotiate with them.

• All the deals, as with Spotify, are subject to NDA’s, and YouTube is refusing to make any public comment about the issue.

• In the Digital Music News article, entitled “Everyone Calm Down. YouTube Is NOT Going To Remove Music Videos”, the “source very familiar with YouTube Music’s streaming partner agreement” is expressing an opinion, not fact, when it says that “Saying they’re blocking videos from YouTube doesn’t make any logical sense to YouTube as a platform”.

• Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of content and business operations, is quoted in an article in the Financial Times as saying that “Record labels representing 95 per cent of the music industry have signed up to the new terms”. This is incorrect, according to Impala, which states that the independent sector accounts for at least 31% of income from record sales. Kynci is using this false (95%) figure to make the independent sector seem like an insignificant blip in the stats, and hence to diminish their significance in the eyes of readers.

• The statement in the FT that “YouTube is about to begin a mass cull of music videos by artists including Adele and the Arctic Monkeys, after a number of independent record labels refused to sign up to the licensing terms for its new subscription service.” might turn out to be true, but anyway…

• The article on the ars technica website says “the [YouTube] source says the correct intepretation of YouTube’s statements are that the site will be blocking music videos from YouTube’s monetization program…”.

However one interprets al this, it is not good for independent labels who refuse to accept Google’s non-negotiable terms.

Additional links, for reference:

Music Week – “YouTube sparks indie revolt over ‘indefensible’ terms” (May 22nd, 2014)

Music Week – “Indies take YouTube fight to EC” (June 4th, 2014)

CMU – “Indie labels draw battle lines in fight against YouTube, BPI adds support” (June 5th, 2014)

Music Week – “YouTube to cull indie music videos ‘within days'” (June 18th, 2014)

Music Week – “YouTube: why one significant indie music group HAS signed licensing deal” (June 20th, 2014)

CMU – “IMPALA confirms EC complaint submitted over YouTube dispute” (June 27th 2014)

Music Week – “YouTube in ‘U-turn’ over indie music video cull”

MPG Members…

To keep up to date with all MPG News and Events, please check back regularly.