Skip to main content

Worries over YouTube block of indie artists may be overstated (Updated)

There are big changes ahead for YouTube and many people aren’t too happy about it. But widely reported fears that popular indie artists like the Arctic Monkeys, Adele, and Jack White will soon disappear from YouTube may be unfounded according to representatives from video-streaming service Vevo and YouTube itself.

Updated on 06-19-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Updated to reflect new reports that indicate which videos YouTube will block.

YouTube told Digital Trends that labels representing 95 percent of the music industry have already signed the deal, adding in an email that it is in constant contact with the remaining indie labels in hopes of making a deal.

The issue was sparked by an interview with the Financial Times, where Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of content and business operations, confirmed that the video-streaming service will start testing a paid music subscription service within the walls of Google. The new service will offer ad-free content and offline downloads for a select price every month.

YouTube’s new service reportedly requires record labels to sign licensing deals — to pay to play, in other words. While major recording labels like SonyMusic Entertainment, Warner Music, and Universal Group Music may not mind signing a contract, especially if the price is right, some indie labels are not happy. A few indie labels have refused to sign the agreement and according to the Financial Times, if the labels don’t sign, the artists won’t be included in the service — and videos of their songs will be blocked on YouTube. 

YouTube stressed that the amount of content that will be affected by the situation will be very small.

YouTube told Digital Trends that the vast majority of music video content from indie labels will still be available on YouTube because most have signed already. The company added that the affected artists’ videos will vary from country to country, based on which label they signed with in that particular country. YouTube stressed that the amount of content that will be affected by the situation will be very small.

“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,” YouTube said in an emailed statement. “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. We are excited that hundreds of major and independent labels are already partnering with us.”

Additionally, Vevo told TechCrunch that since it has separate deals with YouTube and several indie labels, its videos of indie artists won’t be blocked. So in reality, everyone’s favorite indie artists aren’t going anywhere.

A new report from Forbes indicates that only official videos from the recording label or the artists themselves will be blocked on both the free and paid services. YouTube also said that it won’t block user-uploaded videos of copyrighted music from the indie artists whose labels haven’t signed the deal.

With user-uploaded videos and artists’ Vevo channels still available, it seems that very little content will actually be blocked. However, YouTube did say that none of the videos uploaded with songs from the unsigned labels’ artists will be monetized. As such, indie artists stand to lose much-needed revenue from clicks on YouTube videos, even though users won’t miss out on much content.

The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), which represents indie labels and their artists, is very upset about what it sees as scare tactics from YouTube. WIN protested YouTube’s plans angrily earlier in May and has since filed a complaint with the European Commission. WIN says that YouTube’s demands are unreasonable and unfair to indie labels. 

WIN’s chief executive Alison Wenham told the Guardian that YouTube offered indie labels inferior terms and declared that YouTube has made “a simple but catastrophic error of judgement in misreading the market.”

In an updated press release sent to Digital Trends regarding the dispute between the labels WIN represents and YouTube, Wenham disputed YouTube’s claim that most of the indie labels have signed and that the dialogue is open.

“We appreciate that a small number of independent labels may have their own reasons for agreeing to YouTube’s terms, that is their prerogative, but they are very much in the minority,” Wenham said in the statement. “The vast majority of independent labels around the world are disappointed at the lack of respect and understanding shown by YouTube. We once again urge YouTube to come and talk to us.”

WIN also restated its claim that YouTube’s terms are unfair and its threats unethical.

“YouTube continues to issue content blocking threats to WIN’s independent label members who refuse to sign what many labels are calling highly unfavorable, and non-negotiable terms, which undervalue existing rates in the marketplace from partners such as Spotify and Deezer,” the statement read.

On the other side of the coin stand those who turn to YouTube for free music and content. It’s unclear how YouTube fans will react to the news that a paid service is on the way, especially if it means losing access to some of their favorite indie artists. The offline downloads will undoubtedly be a nice benefit for those who enjoy watching videos during their commutes or on vacation, but as with any subscription service, customer response will hinge on the affordability and quality of the service.

Article originally published on 06-16-2014

Editors' Recommendations

Malarie Gokey
Former Digital Trends Contributor
As DT's Mobile Editor, Malarie runs the Mobile and Wearables sections, which cover smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and…
Google will reportedly kill Play Music when it launches YouTube Remix
Google Play Music icon

Google has been working on a new streaming service, called YouTube Remix, for some time now, but the launch of that service may signal the end of one of Google's other streaming services -- Google Play Music. According to a report from Droid-Life, which cites a "reliable source," Google is planning on forcing Google Play Music users onto YouTube Remix by the end of 2018.

YouTube Remix was confirmed to be in the works by Lyor Cohen, Google's head of music, last month, but details about the new service are still a little scarce. According to Cohen, the service will combine Google Play Music's context server with YouTube's massive catalog. Droid-Life's source apparently agrees with this, and indicates the new service will be able to do things like play music depending on the time of day, your location, and so on.

Read more
Hackers place gun images in Vevo YouTube videos “just for fun”
vevo watch party music video app 1

On Tuesday, April 10, the most viewed video on YouTube temporarily vanished at the hands of hackers. Vevo, a popular music video hosting platform, later confirmed a breach that caused several of the company’s YouTube videos to be defaced and removed before returning a few hours later.

Two hackers that have dubbed themselves Prosox and Kuroi’sh appeared to have gained access to Vevo accounts early April 10, making changes to several popular music videos. The hacks were all linked to Vevo videos, but across several accounts for different artists’ Vevo accounts on YouTube. Among those videos are Despacito, a music video by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee that became YouTube’s most-watched video last year, along with videos by artists like Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Shakira, Chris Brown, Selena Gomez, among others.

Read more
What is YouTube Red? What you get, how it works, and how much it costs
YouTube Red offers more than just ad-free videos. Here's everything you need to know about the streaming service
google youtube kids india app mobile ios ipad

With so many different apps, services, and streaming platforms out there, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which services and features are right for you; and navigating YouTube's latest suite of products is no exception. The Google-run video hosting website, launched in 2005, is massively popular, with more than 400 hours of video uploaded every minute (!). But lately, the service's many expansions in the search for more revenue have made things a bit convoluted.

In the past few years, we've seen the launch of YouTube Music, YouTube TV, YouTube Go, and the one you've probably heard about most lately, YouTube Red. Wondering what it's all about? You're not alone. To help alleviate your uncertainty, we've thrown together this guide to explain YouTube Red's ins and outs, and whether it might be worth your hard-earned coin.
What is YouTube Red?

Read more