Youtube to Block Its Indie Content “Within Days”

18 June 2014

The war raging between independent music labels around the world and video sharing giant, Youtube, has reached its tipping point with the company’s general head of business, Robert Kyncl, stating to the Financial Times on Tuesday that videos by independent labels would be gone "within a matter of days" if they refused to sign up to its new streaming service. YouTube also announced earlier this year that its total payouts to music rights holders had crossed the $1 billion mark.

Many independents say that they are being offered "highly unfavourable terms". Radiohead guitarist Ed O’ Brien has even accused Youtube of trying to “strong-arm” labels into accepting low fees. His is part of one of the countless bands and artists whose videos will most likely be pulled from the website.

Other major artists in the international industry who could be affected include Jack White, who is signed by XL Recordings, as well as Arctic Monkeys and Hot Chip, under Domino.

Youtube had apparently held separate negotiations with the three major record labels – Universal, Sony and Warner, who have all agreed terms with the site.

The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) – an organisation that represents the independent music community internationally has released a strong statement against the move, which you can read here, and Alison Wenham, CEO of WIN and Chairman of the Association of Independent Music, UK, had released a statement about the same while negotiations were still on last month.

“[…] This is not a fair way to do business. WIN questions any actions by any organisation that would seek to injure and punish innocent labels and musicians – and their innocent fans – in order to pursue its ambitions. We believe, as such, that these actions are unnecessary and indefensible, not to mention commercially questionable and potentially damaging to Youtube itself given the harm likely to result from this approach.”

It’s unfortunate that a company like Youtube appears not to be interested in treating all copyright owners equally. Offering non negotiable terms may just be a “grave error of judgement” as smaller labels see it. The move isn’t just affecting music labels, but also millions of loyal fans who will lose a vital form of access to their music.

Words: Diya Gupta



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