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YouTube responds to recent record industry complaints, says it is committed to fair compensation

YouTube on a smartphone: the company is accused of playing Goliath to small indie music labels.

Earlier this month the head of the Recording Industry Association of America, Cary Sherman, spoke out against the deals that are currently in place between record labels and YouTube. Sherman voiced her displeasure with how effective the DMCA is, as well as with the negotiation process between labels and YouTube. Now, YouTube’s head of international music partnerships Christopher Muller has shared a blog post offering his response to the complaints by the RIAA.

Mueller says there’s one central thing that YouTube and the RIAA agree on: “Music matters. Musicians and songwriters matter. They deserve to be compensated fairly.” Because of this, Mueller says that it’s “surprising” to him that labels and artists suggest there is a “flood of unlicensed music” on YouTube that deprives them of their revenue.

The truth is that YouTube takes copyright management extremely seriously and we work to ensure rightsholders make money no matter who uploads their music. No other platform gives as much money back to creators– big and small– across all kinds of content.

In response to claims that YouTube’s copyright protection isn’t where it needs to be, Mueller argues that 0.5 percent of all music claims are issued manually, while the other 99.5 percent are automated with 99.7 percent accuracy. This includes things like placing ads that pay the label/artist on fan uploaded content that uses copyrighted material.

Mueller also compares what YouTube does to that of radio – not streaming services like Spotify. He explains that, like radio, most of YouTube’s revenue comes from ad revenue, but notes of an important difference: YouTube pays most of that ad revenue out to labels, while radio does not:

Like radio, YouTube generates the vast majority of our revenue from advertising. Unlike radio, however, we pay the majority of the ad revenue that music earns to the industry. Radio, which accounts for 25 percent of all music consumption in the US alone and generates $35 billion of ad revenue a year, pays nothing to labels and artists in countries like the U.S. In countries like the UK and France where radio does pay royalties, we pay a rate at least twice as high.

The decades-long argument radio makes for not paying artists is that it’s a promotional tool, raising awareness that artists use to cash in elsewhere. But YouTube offers promotion, too—promotion that pays. And that gets at another argument the industry is making: YouTube hurts emerging artists most.

Finally, the YouTube executive argues that contrary to popular belief, music is not the core of YouTube’s popularity. Mueller says that the average YouTube user spends just one hour watching music on YouTube per month, while the average Spotify user consumes 55 hours of music per month.

In the end, Mueller says that YouTube’s efforts to ensure the procession of rights for labels and musicians demonstrate the company’s “love of music and our commitment to strengthening the industry.”

In a separate blog post today, David Rosenstein, YouTube’s Content ID Group Product Manager, has announced that YouTube will now let videos under copyright dispute earn revenue. Infamously, YouTube has often denied creates revenue whenever a copyright claim was made against a video, despite the final ruling often coming in favor of the creator of the vide.

Today, however, YouTube has reversed this decision. The company says that revenue generated while the disputed video is under investigation will now he held by YouTube until the issue is resolved:

When both a creator and someone making a claim choose to monetize a video, we will continue to run ads on that video and hold the resulting revenue separately. Once the Content ID claim or dispute is resolved, we’ll pay out that revenue to the appropriate party.

YouTube’s two blog posts today seem to pander to both sides of the argument, as the company is often forced to dance the line between keeping copyright holders and content creators satisfied. Nevertheless, YouTube seems to be committed to both sides of the argument.

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Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller


Chance currently writes for both 9to5Google and 9to5Mac, in addition to 9to5Toys.