Indie-music consortium claims YouTube strong-arming during music service negotiations

youtube and lightning 300wA global music trade organization representing independent musicians, reportedly¬†claimed that YouTube used threatening tactics during negotiations with Google about a yet-to-be-launched YouTube music service. The publicity around this outburst further legitimizes rumors that YouTube is setting the stage for a dedicated music service, and also purportedly shines light on Google’s aggressive negotiations.

According to The Guardian, the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) claimed that YouTube put a template recording contract into negotiation, saying that if WIN failed to agree to its terms, WIN artists would be blocked from YouTube. The contract terms were allegedly non-negotiable. WIN planned to publicize its claims in a press release, which it showed under embargo to selected news agencies. The organization cancelled the release, and the publicity of its claims began.

The original press document included this statement from WIN chief executive Alison Wenham: “Our members are small businesses who rely on a variety of income streams to invest in new talent. They are being told by one of the largest companies in the world to accept terms that are out of step with the marketplace for streaming.”

Google is reportedly declining to comment on ongoing negotiations.

A YouTube music service has been the subject of rabid speculation since it was leaked last fall. Intermittent leakages have reported delays in building the product, and a supposed name for the service: Music Pass.

YouTube is already the world’s most populated music-delivery platform, with a heavy audience weighting toward young people. Industry observers wonder how Google would improve on that situation by installing a toll gate on YouTube music content. but it is understandable that with over one-billion users, Google would want to experiment with subscription revenue in addition to the existing advertising model. Presumably, eliminating the ads and building a more organized user interface would attract customers to what is, without question, the deepest (licensed) music catalog in the world.

Brad Hill