Negotiations Thaw Between YouTube, Indie Music Labels

After weeks of contentious negotiations over YouTube's new streaming music service drew antitrust complaints from trade groups, the Google-owned social network said last week it would allow more room for compromise.

Good news, Radiohead fans: You may not lose access to that “Lotus Flower” video after all.

After a high-stakes battle between YouTube and several big-name indie labels (including XL Recordings, which released the band’s most recent album in Britain back in 2011) erupted last month, the Google-owned video-sharing website appears ready to make concessions, according to a Financial Times report.

YouTube is insisting on extracting a package of rights that no other partner could get away with.

“They’re back-flipping and backtracking,” one independent-label official told the Financial Times.

While still insisting it will take down the labels’ music from the site if an agreement is not reached on the company’s forthcoming streaming music service, YouTube will allow more time for both sides to reach a compromise. The company, which said most labels had agreed to its terms, previously had implied that removal of music videos from chart-topping artists including Adele and Vampire Weekend was imminent.

The thaw in negotiations comes as trade groups such as the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), and IMPALA (a European organization of independent labels and trade associations) have kept pressure on YouTube to do right by their members.

Late last month, IMPALA filed a complaint with the European Commission over the issue, asking EU antitrust regulators to intervene in the fight.

“YouTube is insisting on extracting a package of rights that no other partner could get away with. The terms appear to seriously undervalue existing deals in the marketplace with other business partners,” IMPALA, which represents more than 4,000 members, said in a statement to Reuters.

The association’s complaint, which followed a similar one from WIN, added that the provisions of the contract go “far beyond what would be agreed with any other service.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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