The Music Industry’s Weird Love-Hate Relationship with YouTube

When Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006, critics went batshit on the company. “What a dumb move! They’re just buying billions and billions in copyright infringement lawsuits!”

But that’s not what happened. Google was able to negotiate deals with all the record labels so that music videos could be monetized and thus free from any lawsuit risk. A few years later, we got Psy.

Record labels rake in billions from YouTube views, but they still have an issue with the company. CNET takes a look.

YouTube has over 1 billion people using it to watch videos, and 60 percent of those viewers are watching music. That makes it the biggest place in the world for finding and listening to music, making it a platform the record industry simply can’t ignore — but amid the ongoing controversy over how we pay for music in the digital age, some recording business insiders think YouTube’s sheer size allows it to get away with too much.

“Labels and publishers look at [streaming service] Spotify whenever any changes in the industry happen,” said Eric McKay, head of digital in Europe for music publishing body Warner/Chappell Music. “But every time we as an industry tell Spotify they can’t do something, Google goes ‘f**k off, we’re doing it anyway’ and they just do it. And we have to scrap around after them to make it work.”

Read on.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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