YouTube prepares to block indie labels
YouTube will block content from indie labels within “a matter of days”, after they refused to accept the company’s new terms and conditions.
The move comes as the video streaming site prepares to launch a paid music service in the coming months – which all music labels will be obliged to sign up for if they wish for their artists’ videos to remain available to viewers.
Google-owned YouTube claimed it wants all labels to be covered by the same terms, in order to “provide a consistent user experience for the paid service”, according to Reuters.
“We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind – to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year,” it added.
While 95% of music labels that had deals for its free, ad-supported service have signed up to the new paid-for product – including Universal and Sony – a number of indie labels, including XL Records and Domino Records, have rejected the terms.
These include labels representing big-name artists such as Radiohead, Adele, Dizzee Rascal, the Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand.
If their labels continue to hold out against the new terms, their videos may soon be blocked from YouTube. However, according to the BBC, the videos will not be removed completely and will still be available through services such as Vevo.
Impala, one of the trade bodies representing indie music companies, is appealing to the European Commission, according to The Financial Times, claiming YouTube is “using its market position to force small record labels into accepting unfavourable terms”.
One record boss told the FT his concern is not so much about the paid tier, but that the new licensing agreement will allow YouTube to make “substantial enhancements to its free tier”.
Consequently, he fears this will drive customers away from competing subscription services such as Deezer and Spotify.
However, Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of content and business operations, said the “ultimate goal” is to encourage as many people as possible to join the paid service by creating “features that fans love”.