YouTube giving artists financial backing, as long as they don’t criticize the company

YouTube has its fair share of critics, especially in the music industry. According to a new report from Bloomberg, it seems that YouTube may be trying to create leverage that will keep musicians from making negative comments about the video platform. The publication said it has learned that YouTube has offered a few musicians hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial backing to produce videos and billboard promotion, with the caveat that these performers won’t say negative things about the company. Bloomberg’s sources asked not to be identified.

Other industries may be more familiar with non-disparagement agreements, but this appears to be a new wrinkle for the interactions between artist and digital music platform. One source told Bloomberg the clause goes farther than a requirement to not critique YouTube, but did not share additional details.

YouTube has been a frequent target of criticism from the industry, both at the level of individual performers and from larger trade groups. The most common concerns are YouTube’s infrastructure for copyright infringement, which the industry has compared to an endless game of whack-a-mole, and the share of revenue that the video company pays back to music rights holders when their material is heard on the platform.

Anna Washenko