Making YouTube face the music on royalties | Letters

Letters: Music consumption is soaring at record levels, but revenues returned to those who create and invest in music are not

Nelly Furtado has highlighted why music’s value gap needs fixing. She has called for fair treatment for artists from YouTube in words that resonate across the music industry globally (Music Blog,, 2 May). We applaud her eloquent summary and note four key areas she highlights.

First, despite its claims, YouTube is not like a radio service. It is the streaming service of choice for the largest on-demand audience in the world.

Second, YouTube would like to avoid being compared with subscription services that pay much higher per-user rates to artists. But the comparison is perfectly valid. The key distinction is that, unlike those subscription services, YouTube claims it is able to take advantage of so-called “safe harbours” to negotiate licences. This is the fundamental market distortion that gives YouTube an unfair advantage over licensed services and devalues music.

Third, YouTube claims it has paid out a large sum to the music industry, but it provides an unexplained figure which, even if taken at face value, represents a very small fraction – less than 2% – of industry revenues since 2008.

Finally, YouTube’s Content ID tool is limited in scope and imperfect. It should not be a substitute for licensing on the same basis as other digital services.

Nelly Furtado has summed the problem up perfectly: music consumption is soaring at record levels, but revenues returned to those who create and invest in music are not. The situation is grossly unfair and that is why policy makers and legislators need to act.
Frances Moore
Chief executive, IFPI (representing the recording industry Worldwide)

• Join the debate – email


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Value gap is crucial for the music sector | Letters
Letters: YouTube does great things. But the justifications cited for the world’s largest music services paying negligible rates for music do not wash


24, Jul, 2016 @6:43 PM

Article image
YouTube and music labels clash again over 'meagre' artist royalties
Industry body RIAA takes aim at ‘some technology giants’ but Google claims ‘apples to oranges’ comparisons sell its contribution short

Stuart Dredge

23, Mar, 2016 @4:37 PM

Warner Music videos to be free on YouTube

Music videos from artists including Madonna are to be made available free on the popular video website YouTube, as part of a deal with Warner Music.

Bobbie Johnson, technology correspondent

18, Sep, 2006 @11:03 PM

Article image
Nikki Sixx launches campaign to get YouTube to ‘do the right thing’ over music royalties
Mötley Crüe and Sixx:AM co-founder wants to swell the chorus of criticism of Google service from musicians and persuade it to up its payouts

Stuart Dredge

25, Apr, 2016 @3:00 AM

Article image
YouTube Music Key takes on Spotify as streaming music battle heats up
Video site launches six-month free trial of its long-rumoured music subscription service. By Stuart Dredge

Stuart Dredge

12, Nov, 2014 @6:00 PM

Article image
Vinyl sales bigger than YouTube for British artists
Sales of vinyl records grow for eighth year in row, but labels attack ‘meagre’ payouts from advert-funded streaming websites

John Plunkett

19, May, 2016 @11:01 PM

Article image
Debbie Harry: 'Music matters. YouTube should pay musicians fairly'
The Blondie singer outlines why she’s joining the crusade to demand better payments for musicians from the video streaming service

Debbie Harry

26, Apr, 2016 @12:31 PM

Article image
Alex Day, YouTube phenomenon, on building fans and making money
Last Christmas, Day became first unsigned artist to reach number four in Official Charts and this year he's aiming even higher. By Helienne Lindvall

Helienne Lindvall

05, Dec, 2012 @5:17 PM

Article image
Music streaming: what do songwriters really get from YouTube or Pandora?
Helienne Lindvall: Writers are angry about the royalties they get when their tracks are played – they deserve a bigger (pizza) slice of the action

Helienne Lindvall

10, Oct, 2012 @1:57 PM

Article image
YouTube to block indie labels who don't sign up to new music service
Starting internal tests of subscription service but faces accusation of 'catastrophic error of judgement'

Stuart Dredge and Dominic Rushe

17, Jun, 2014 @2:03 PM