Here are two truths:
1. YouTube is the biggest source of online music in the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way.
2. YouTube pays license fees for all the music is features.
However, because of point (1), YouTube feels it can dictate the what rates it pays insofar as point (2) goes when it comes to its soon-to-be-launched music streaming service.
In preparation for this launch, YouTube has made it clear that it will block content from indie labels from this new service if they do not sign a non-negotiable license contract.
This, of course, has pissed off every single indie label on the planet.
The Worldwide Independent Network, a group representing the interests of indie labels and indie music associations everywhere, calls YouTube’s move ‘unnecessary and indefensible.’ I quote from the WIN press release:
The service has apparently negotiated separate agreements with the three major labels – Sony, Warner and Universal – but according to WIN’s trade association colleagues has yet to reach any substantive agreement with their members.
At a time when independent music companies are increasing their global market share WIN has raised major concerns about YouTube’s recent policy of approaching independent labels directly with a template contract and an explicit threat that their content will be blocked on the platform if it is not signed.
According to WIN members, the contracts currently on offer to independent labels from YouTube are on highly unfavourable, and non-negotiable terms, and undervalue existing rates in the marketplace from existing music streaming partners such as Spotify, Rdio, Deezer and others.
The following countries are totally on board with WIN’s position:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
I now quote Stuart Johnston, president of the Canadian Independent Music Association: “The independent sector has struggled for decades to have a fair market in which to work. There is no reason for us to, at this point, give to one player privileges that could jeopardize the market health as a whole. This pressure over the labels is insane and will lead nowhere, but to a delay in service launch.”
This is going to get even weirder.