Adele and Arctic Monkeys 'blocked from YouTube' in row over royalties
Google is accused of misusing YouTube’s dominance of music videos online to threaten to cut off artists such as Adele and the Arctic Monkeys from their fans in a dispute over royalties.
The web giant said on Tuesday that it will begin removing the videos within days because independent record labels refused to agree to its commercial terms for a forthcoming new subscription streaming service similar to Spotify.
The ultimatum was made public by Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of content and business operations, in a press interview. It came after Impala, a trade body representing independent record labels, called for European competition formally authorities to intervene over YouTube’s “strong-arm” attempts to force them to accept “highly unfavourable terms” earlier this month.
Their stance was backed on Tuesday by the BPI, the trade body representing the three major labels, signalling the music industry’s increasingly united front on internet issues.
Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music have all agreed commercial terms for their artists’ music to be included in the new subscription service. They said, however, that independent labels’ music should not be removed from YouTube because they have not reached a deal.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, said: “We think it is wrong for YouTube/Google to threaten to ostracise certain independents - denying fans the opportunity to hear their music, and labels and artists the chance to earn a living from it - because they are unwilling to surrender to a take it or leave it ultimatum.
“As the dominant online video platform, YouTube/Google should negotiate fully and fairly with independents and not misuse its power.”
Impala and its allies have claimed that they are being pressured to accept unfavourable terms compared with those obtained from YouTube by the major labels.
YouTube is at loggerheads with a small but influential part of the industry at a key time for music subscription services
Apple last month acquired Beats for $3bn. As well as making headphones, the company also runs a music streaming service that analysts expect to become more significant as it is integrated into devices such as the iPhone. Spotify, the market leader, is meanwhile believed to be preparing for a multibillion-dollar flotation.
A YouTube spokesman said: “Our goal is to continue making YouTube an amazing music experience, both as a global platform for fans and artists to connect, and as a revenue source for the music industry.
"We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind - to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year.
"We are excited that hundreds of major and independent labels are already partnering with us.”