Oh the horror!
Independent artists could vanish from YouTube in a matter of days after the Google video serviced confirmed it was blocking content from independent labels that refuse to sign up for its new subscription music service.
YouTube, owned by Google, will begin testing the new service that will charge people to watch and listen to music without ads, as well as download songs to their mobile devices in the span of the next few days.
Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of content and business operations told the Financial Times that the service will launch even more rapidly and widely later in the year. He confirmed that YouTube will be blocking videos from independent labels that do not agree and sign licensing deals for the new premium tier.
“While we wish that we had 100% success rate, we understand that is not likely an achievable goal and therefore it is our responsibility to our users and the industry to launch the enhanced music experience,” said Kyncl, claiming that YouTube has signed up labels representing 90% of the music industry.
Independent labels are likely to disagree with Kyncl as their licensing agency Merlin has estimated that indie collectively make up for 32.6% market share of the recorded music industry’s sales and streams.
Worldwide Independent Network’s chief executive Alison Wenham gave a blunt response to Kyncl’s comments when she was contacted by The Guardian. According to Wenham, “they have suffered a simple but catastrophic error of judgement in misreading the market.”
Wenham also said, “YouTube was setting itself up for failure and only a small number of independent labels would agree to its terms.”
“We have tried and will continue to try to help YouTube understand just how important independent music is to any streaming service and why it should be valued accordingly. Music fans want a service that offers the complete range of music available. This is something that companies such as Spotify and Deezer do, both of whom have excellent relationships with the independent music sector,” Wenham continued.
WIN also claims that YouTube has signed profitable licensing deals with major music labels such as Universal, Warner and Sony, while demanding that indie labels sign up to less profitable terms or face having their videos being blocked or removed from YouTube’s free service.
“Our goal is to continue making YouTube an amazing music experience, both as a global platform for fans and artists to connect, and as a revenue source for the music industry,” said a Google spokesman. He said the subscription-based service would bring new revenue streams “in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year. We are excited that hundreds of major and independent labels are already partnering with us.”
In the recent years, YouTube has become a key promotional outlet for many independent labels so with this new subscriptions, artists like Adele, Arctic Monkeys, Jack White and Radiohead could have their videos taken down.
YouTube attracts over 1 billion monthly viewers, with music being one of its most watched and biggest categories. The upcoming premium subscription tier will compete with other music sharing services like Spotify, Deezer and Napster.
Here’s a playlist from Arctic Monkeys for your listening pleasure, before it gets taken down!
How do you feel about YouTube’s decision? Sound off in the comments!