The Financial Times reported today, and I quote, “YouTube is about to begin a mass cull of music videos by artists including Adele and the Arctic Monkeys, after a number of independent record labels refused to sign up to the licensing terms for its new subscription service.” Well now, that sounds pretty crazy, doesn’t it?
You guys know the first rule of internet club. Every article you click on is is exactly 15% as true/exciting as promised by the headline. Around here, we call this the designated internet clickwhore kickback factor (or the internet DICK factor for short), and it does apply in this case.
YouTube does plan to roll out a new service soon, reportedly to be called YouTube Music Pass. Like most other streaming services, it will include a free, ad-supported mode, and an ad-free paid subscription mode. Like most other streaming services, it has already cut deals with 95% of the major and independent labels, and will likely close most the rest one way or another.
Indie labels are reportedly outraged, and we understand why they’re freaked out at least. YouTube is the #1 way teenagers listen to music these days, as has been widely reported. A YouTube streaming service is a pretty big deal, and the idea that YouTube is just going to start assassinating anyone who doesn’t agree to extortive terms is a scary one.
However, YouTube is, and shall remain, YouTube. Their reps have denied this charge of a “mass cull,” claiming that the indies are making these accusations as a negotiating tactic. As Digital Trends reports, the “very small” amount of content actually affected will be blocked only in specific countries, depending on the specific deals they have in place with the labels they are signed with in that particular country. If the content isn’t licensed at all? Well, then no licensing issues.
Furthermore, every single label (indies included) that has licensed their content to Vevo are 100% safe under the standing Vevo agreement. So that Arctic Monkeys video we posted this morning is safe, regardless of the battle raging on in Europe over all of this between YouTube and WIN/Impala, who represents Arctic Monkeys, yes, but only in specific situations.
The more interesting questions to us are these: How would a YouTube-powered service compete against the likes of Spotify, Rdio, and Beats? And with the streaming service that Google already has, for that matter? Hell, I could see myself switching over, if major label stuff, indie stuff, all that obscure live stuff and user uploads, and shit like our live Antiquiet Sessions were all in one app. Combine it with my personal library in Google Music? That’s game over, for me.
In the meantime, the sky isn’t falling.