Indie labels escalate fight with Google over streaming

wordle - youtube 300wOn May 22 we reported that an international consortium of independent music labels called Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) was upset about Google‘s proposed music-licensing contract for a new YouTube music service in the works. That report was based on a leak that WIN did not intend to release.

On May 27 we reported that WIN went public with an official complaint of Google’s “indefensible” contract and negotiating behavior. According to WIN, Google threatened to cut off indie labels from YouTube’s service (unknown whether the threat involved only the new service, or all of YouTube) if they didn’t sign the proposed contract.

Now, U.K.-based Worldwide Independent Network has escalated the complain to the British government, and will reportedly file the complaint in Belgium as well.

WIN’s complaints are supported by the Association of Independent Music, also in the U.K., whose CEO, Alison Wenham, sent a letter to the British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. Wenham cites an important statistic that illuminates the cumulative clout of indie labels: “UK market share in 2013 was 26%, making it the second largest entity after Universal Music Group.”

“If this bullying and intimidating behaviour does not stop, the implications are very serious indeed, not only for the music industry, but for all creative and rights based industries. We face the very real prospect of all internet based trade in creative output being colonised by two or three large offshore corporations, who seem intent on taking as much value for themselves, and passing as little value as possible back.” –Alison Wenham, CEO, Association of Independent Music

Google is not commenting on the situation, but notes: “We have successful deals in place with hundreds of independent and major labels around the world” — an observation that might relate to the existing YouTube platform.

Brad Hill