June 18, 2014
Content from indie artists could disappear from Google’s YouTube “in a matter of days.” As YouTube prepares to launch its ad-free streaming music service, it also plans to block videos from independent labels and artists that choose not to sign up for the new subscription offering. While YouTube has signed licensing deals with the major labels, it says it will block others from using its entire platform if they do not agree to terms of the upcoming premium service.
“YouTube is about to begin testing the new service — which will charge people to watch and listen to music without ads, and download songs to their mobile devices — within the next few days, initially within Google,” reports The Guardian. “The company’s head of content and business operations, Robert Kyncl, told the Financial Times that the service — previously rumored to be called YouTube Music Pass — will launch more widely later in the year.”
YouTube claims to have signed labels representing 90 percent of the music industry, but indie labels’ licensing agency Merlin “estimates that indies collectively account for a 32.6 percent market share of the recorded music industry’s sales and streams,” notes The Guardian.
“While we wish that we had 100 percent 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.
Trade body WIN is filing a complaint with the European Commission. “They have suffered a simple but catastrophic error of judgment in misreading the market,” said WIN’s chief exec Alison Wenham of YouTube’s plans, adding that the video giant was “setting itself up for failure.”
“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 spokesperson, adding that the 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.”