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Independent labels face YouTube video removal in licensing spat

updated 12:41 pm EDT, Tue June 17, 2014

Refusal to agree on YouTube licensing terms induces removal threat

Independent record labels may see their music videos removed from YouTube, if they do not agree to new licensing terms relating to the video site's rumored music service. The videos could be removed "in a matter of days" if an agreement is not reached for the service, which is believed to start testing soon and become available to the public later this year.

Head of content and business operations Robert Kyncl advised to the Financial Times that content would be removed within days, "to ensure that all content on the platform is governed by its new contractual terms." It is claimed that labels representing 90 percent of the music industry have signed up to the new agreement, with the Guardian noting that the remainder represents artists including Adele, the Arctic Monkeys, and Jack White, though some tracks from the artists will still be viewable through a deal with Vevo.

The Worldwide Independent Music Industry Network (WIN) has filed a complaint with the European Commission over the decision, with the organization claiming the major labels have signed lucrative deals with YouTube, with less beneficial terms provided to independents on top of the content-removal threat. WIN chief executive Alison Wenham said "They have suffered a simple but catastrophic error of judgment in misreading the market."

A Google spokesperson defended the move, claiming "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." The rumored subscription music service would provide more revenues "in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year."

While the premium YouTube music service has come under fire before it has even launched, it is not the only one to receive criticism over music licensing. Radiohead lead Thom Yorke pulled all his solo music from Spotify in protest against the low pay artists receive from streaming music. "It's an equation that just doesn't work. Meanwhile small labels and new artists can't even keep their lights on. It's just not right," the musician wrote on Twitter. Amazon's recently-launched music service also faced complaints from independent labels, as a report claimed the retailer had set aside just $5 million in a music licensing pool to pay independents, yet offered major labels $25 million.

by MacNN Staff



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