YouTube May Block Indie Music Videos After Failure To Reach Agreement
June 18, 2014

YouTube May Block Indie Music From New Subscription Music Service

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Video may have killed the radio star, but some indie music labels have claimed that Google-owned YouTube is looking to kill certain would-be indie music stars' videos. Many independent artists could disappear completely from YouTube in just a matter of days after the video service announced it was dropping content from those independent music labels who did not sign up for its upcoming subscription music service.

While three major record labels including Universal, Sony and Warner have agreed to the terms, many smaller independent labels are now holding out. As a result, some well-known and popular artists including Adele, Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead could have their videos taken down as their respective labels refused to agree to YouTube's terms, according to media reports on Tuesday.

"While we wish that we had a 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," Robert Kyncl, YouTube's head of content and business operations, told the Financial Times.

YouTube will begin testing its new service within the next few days, and it will charge people to watch and listen to music without ads and even to download songs to their mobile devices, the Guardian newspaper reported.

The fact that YouTube could block certain indie labels is not without controversy, and it has already attracted the attention of the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), which represents the indie music community.

Alison Wenham, who runs WIN, told BBC News that YouTube is "making a grave error of commercial judgment in misreading the market. 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.

"By not giving their subscribers access to independent music YouTube is setting itself up for failure," Wenham added. "The vast majority of independent labels around the world are disappointed at the lack of respect and understanding shown by YouTube."

She further noted that only a smaller number of indie labels might agree to YouTube's terms.

WIN is not standing alone either. Impala, a body that represents music labels including XL Recordings, 4AD, Cooking Vinyl and Domino, has already appealed to the European Commission for assistance. It has argued that YouTube is using its current market position to essentially force smaller labels into accepting what it sees to be unfavorable terms.

For its part Google doesn't see the terms as unfavorable, and has noted that YouTube attracts more than 1 billion monthly viewers and music is one of its largest categories.

"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,” a Google spokesman told the Guardian, and added that 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."

When YouTube's music service launches it could compete with other premium services including Spotify, Deezer, Napster as well as Apple-owned Beats Music and ironically Google Play Music All Access.

Earlier this month musicians led by Billy Bragg asked the EU to intervene over the rates that YouTube has offered to smaller music labels, and claimed the Google-owned business was trying to "strong arm" the labels, according to a separate BBC News article.