YouTube is preparing to radically change the site, adding a subscription service that is intended to help them compete in the streaming music industry. The Google-owned video site has already signed new licensing deals with all of the major labels, but many independents are refusing to take part. Apparently, not only are smaller, indie labels not being offered the same deals as the majors, but the contracts that Google is putting in front of them are less than fair.
In order to show their muscle, Google has stated that any label—meaning smaller, independent ones—that does not sign a deal with them will not only be left off the new service, but will have their content taken down from the original, free YouTube. Vice President and Global Head of Business at YouTube Robert Kyncl recently claimed that they already had deals with 90% of the industry, and that they had no choice but to move forward. [Forbes]
One could argue that no website has been as vital to independent musicians in the modern era as YouTube, the number one streaming music platform in the world has been. Its philosophical construct as an open distribution platform helped level the playing field for independent musicians, who in the old days, could never compete with the closed radio and television-based infrastructure dominated by major labels. And this is a major step back in that direction.
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.