Deepening Dispute: YouTube and indie labels still at loggerheads

chess 01Last week we reported on the acrimonious negotiations between Google’s YouTube and Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), a consortium of small music labels around the world. The talks, which anticipate a new music-only service from YouTube, have deteriorated — signified by a formal public statement from WIN.

Calling You’tube’s tactics “indefensible,” WIN publicly revealed Google’s threat to block non-signing member labels from YouTube — it is unclear whether the threat includes only the yet-to-come service, or the existing YouTube platform as well.

“This pressure over the labels is insane and will lead nowhere, but to a delay in service launch.” –Luciana Pegorer, Managing Director ABMI, Brazil

“According to WIN members, the contracts currently on offer to independent labels from YouTube are on highly unfavourable, and non-negotiable terms, and undervalue existing rates in the marketplace from existing music streaming partners such as Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, and others,” says the statement.

“WIN has held extensive talks with YouTube at their instigation over the last 24 hours to try and resolve this issue but no progress has been made. WIN’s request for YouTube to rescind the termination letters sent to its members has not as yet been agreed to.”

Last week the Worldwide Independent Network issued a press release protesting Google’s negotiating tactics, but rescinded the statement before its embargo. Publications which had received the statement reported it anyway, and the standoff became a news item. WIN issued its formal remarks soon after.

The press release quotes over a dozen small-label owners protesting Google’s take-it-or-leave-it approach, and the contract terms.

Worldwide Independent Network’s aggregate market share is reportedly at the major-label level, second to Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest label group.

Brad Hill

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