Over 2016, major labels and other music heavyweights have continually slammed YouTube over the low rates it pays in royalties. RIAA boss Cary Sherman has been particularly vocal about it. Heres what he wrote in a Medium post in March: In 2015, fans listened to hundreds of billions of audio and video music streams through on-demand ad-supported digital services like YouTube, but revenues from such services have been meager far less than other kinds of music services. And the problem is getting worse. Check out the alarming disparity between the growth in the number of ad-supported streams compared to the growth in revenues generated from those streams. This is the graphic hes talking about: View photos More (Medium) Heres the basic problem: YouTube wants to be seen as a promotional tool that drives revenue to other forms of music consumption, but label execs are convinced that many people use YouTube as an alternative to services like Spotify and Apple Music, which pay much more. Streaming music has finally became the biggest part of revenue for the industry this year, and YouTube’s model isnt what the labels want. The DMCA So why dont the labels refuse to sign new deals with YouTube? The answer is complicated, and comes back to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which gives YouTube a lot of protection against having to pay if its users post copyrighted material. Heres Sherman again, on the topic of label negotiations, from an interview with Recode : The way the negotiation goes is something like this: Look. This is all we can afford to pay you, YouTube says. We hope that youll find that reasonable.
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