It appears Google-owned YouTube is now involved in the “major vs. indie” debate that has been ongoing in the music industry for years. According to reports,
the video streaming site is on the verge of completely deleting content from some independent artists.
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YouTube is set to add a subscription service in the coming days. Reportedly named YouTube Music Pass, the new service will allow users to avoid ads and download music directly from the site.
“Music Pass” has led to new licensing deals with major labels and 90% of the industry, but indie labels are reportedly being offered “highly unfavorable” terms as compared to the big companies.
Some indies are refusing to participate. The independents argue they account for 35% percent of all music traffic on YouTube and that should be justification for a percentage of the revenue from Music Pass.
Google apparently has responded by threatening to omit the independents from the new YouTube service and remove their videos from the free site as well. Videos on Vevo should stay active since the site has separate licensing agreements.
“While we wish that we had 100% success rate, we understand that is not likely an achievable goal and therefore it is our responsibility to our users and the industry to launch the enhanced music experience,” stated Vice President and Global Head of Business at YouTube Robert Kyncl.
This development could have an enormous negative effect on the success of independent artists. Forbes‘ Hugh McIntyre writes:
Perhaps more important is the fact that many up-and-coming artists may have a harder time sharing their music and videos… Barring lesser-known names from the most popular streaming site in the world could seriously damage the growth of independent artists, and hurt the careers of future stars.
It is not clear at the moment how Google’s decision will affect unsigned acts.