David & Goliath – Indie Labels take on Youtube over Licensing Disupte

As soon as news leaked about Youtube potentially blocking indie artist’s videos upon launch of a paid streaming service, a storm of posts hit the webs filled with rumors. As the smoke is beginning to clear and doomsday for these indie videos imminently approaches, things are not looking so bleak.

1. All indie labels are going to have their videos blocked.

FALSE (Source – Music Week)

While some big labels are holding out such as Beggars Group labels, XL and Domino, many have signed on, including major indie content distributors like INGrooves, The Orchard, and Believe Digital. Their main grievance is Youtube hasn’t offered them terms that are up to industry standards and comparable to what they offered major labels and are being paid by other services such as Spotify and Deezer.

2. Labels and artists that don’t have agreements will have their videos pulled from Youtube

True (but with conditions) (Source – Forbes)

Details are not clear at the moment but general consensus is as follows. If a label or artist does not have a licensing agreement with Youtube. All official content uploaded by the label or artist will be removed, unless it is included in VEVO. VEVO has separate licensing agreements for their content and will stay up. It is unclear what will happen with fan uploaded content that contains unlicensed material but general consensus seems to be that it will remain up but will not be monetized. Since music is licensed by territory, some videos will be taken down in countries without licensing but remain up in others. The main reason for blocking unlicensed videos that cannot appear in their paid service is simple, you can’t expect people to pay for less content than is available for free.

3. A large number of indie labels are holding out for better terms.

FALSE (Source – Digital Trends)

Trade groups like Merlin, A2IM, and WIN are all expressing dissatisfaction with the way Youtube is treating independent record labels. The American Association of Independent Music even filed a letter with the FTC claiming Youtube is engaging in unfair trade practices. Originally, it was stated 10% of the music on Youtube was being held out by indie labels for better deals. Now the number is down to 5%. And Youtube is actively working out deals with the remaining labels that haven’t signed deals yet.

All in all, it looks like Youtube is actively working to resolve the issue, their service wouldn’t be the same with out indie artists like Adele, The Arctic Monkeys, Queen of the Stone Age and more. Some artists may still be affected by the introduction of Youtube’s new service but the number of artists and the impact they will feel looks like it is being minimized everyday.