Hallelujah! The music world is finally standing up to YouTube’s increasingly blatant abuse of free music performances.
Remember our piece on music mogul Irving Azoff’s new Global Music Rights PRO? Turns out he’s also a long-time critic of YouTube, recently unleashing the Kracken in an open letter via Recode.
He’s part of a landslide of music vets calling out YouTube’s “racketeering” of artists and publishers for free/insultingly cheap blanket music right agreements. (Shout out to composer Maria Schneider: You’re a Goddess. This is amazing.)
Why now? Because the U.S. Copyright Office is presently reviewing YouTube’s DMCA “safe harbor” status.
MAM has been asking the PROs — and YouTube directly — for years: when will the free VOD platform’s ubiquitous paid digital ads begin paying royalties for those ads’ music performances.
Wasn’t that supposed to be the beauty of ContentID? And RADKey? And paid streaming service Music Key? Quality music performance data ushering in a refreshingly transparent era in music industry performance analytics?
The answer: well… YouTube never gave us a straight answer. Or hard data.
Meanwhile, the wait for cash on digital ad music performances has gone on… and on… for years. With not a penny to show for it. Really: one red cent.
Last month, MAM Founder Nan Wilson wrote a guest column for SHOOT asking this same question: why isn’t YouTube paying the PROs and/or artists for the music playing during the (constant and incredibly lucrative) advertisements on its platform?
Nan shared her latest YouTube insights during a recent interview with podcast Future Composer and its host, composer John Presley.
Around minute 9:45, John asks what digital’s current impact is on advertising music royalties.
“It is kind of the Wild West,” replies Nan.
“The rate being paid for broadcast is consistently going up,” Nan explains. “But more and more of the performances are occurring digitally, and digital pays a fraction of what broadcast has paid.”
She adds, “Hulu, Netflix, video on demand — they all are actually pretty good about reporting the performances, and we expect to see an increase in the rates of those kinds of services.”
Citing her SHOOT piece, “The article that I wrote was really addressing specifically the music in commercials on YouTube — the largest digital broadcaster of commercials. YouTube right now is not paying any performance royalties on music in commercials.
“[PROs] want to make the composers and publishers happy,” Nan points out. “It actually is in their interest to make composers and publishers happy. … Trust me, composers yelling and screaming, ‘You’ve got to start paying me, and paying me correctly!’ will make a difference.”
Check out the rest of Future Composer’s interview for Nan’s blow-by-blow on how YouTube has been misleading the PROs about it’s (phantom) direct licensing deals with providers of advertising and its music. And what the consequences could be if the PROs don’t start shaking YouTube’s pockets a lot harder.