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Indie music labels: 'YouTube is making a grave error'

Tim Ingham
Indie music labels: 'YouTube is making a grave error'

The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) has responded to the news that YouTube is planning to block content from leading indie labels - and called the Google-owned giant's decision to launch its new subscription service without music from the likes of Adele and Arctic Monkeys "a grave error of judgement".

YouTube will start pulling videos on its main platform from indie labels within “a matter of days”, the platform's head of content and business operations Robert Kyncl told the Financial Times yesterday.

The move is a punishment for those indie labels - including Beggars/XL and Domino - who have refused to license YouTube’s upcoming ad-free subscription service, blaming what they call ‘indefensible’ and ‘non-negotiable’ terms.

Kyncl confirmed yesterday that 90% of music rights-holders have licensed the new service, and suggested that would be enough to launch successfully - regardless of the fact some of the biggest indie artists in the world are not on board.

WIN has issued a new statement further questioning the actions of YouTube, and suggested that the contract currently on offer undervalues existing rates in the marketplace from partners such as Spotify and Deezer. 

YouTube’s new ad-free subscription music streaming service will launch later this summer. It has been licensed by the three major labels and, Music Week understands, leading independent digitial distributors such as INgrooves, The Orchard and Believe Digital.

Alison Wenham, CEO of WIN (pictured) said, “Put simply, by refusing to engage with and listen to the concerns of the independent music sector YouTube is making a grave error of commercial judgment in misreading the market.

“We have tried and will continue to try to help YouTube understand just how important independent music is to any streaming service and why it should be valued accordingly. Music fans want a service that offers the complete range of music available. This is something that companies such as Spotify and Deezer do, both of whom have excellent relationships with the independent music sector. By not giving their subscribers access to independent music YouTube is setting itself up for failure.   

“We appreciate that a small number of independent labels may have their own reasons for agreeing to YouTube’s terms, that is their prerogative, but they are very much in the minority. The vast majority of independent labels around the world are disappointed at the lack of respect and understanding shown by YouTube. We once again urge YouTube to come and talk to us. “

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Tags: youtube, Labels, Digital

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