Capping a year in which royalty issues took center stage in the music industry, the National Music Publishers’ Association and YouTube came to a $40 million agreement that covers improperly labeled music.
A major music industry group has just provided some relief for one of the biggest business headaches many popular musicians faced this year.
Here’s the deal: Last week, YouTube entered into a settlement with the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), which represents songwriters and their music-publishing firms. The $40 million agreement, which covers music uploaded as far back as 2012, helps cover instances where songs and albums are difficult to track in YouTube clips.
The agreement sets the stage for proper payments to NMPA members, said David Israelite, the association’s president and CEO.
“We appreciate YouTube’s willingness to work with us on behalf of the industry to help pay out millions of dollars in previously unclaimed royalties to publishers and songwriters,” Israelite said in a statement last week. “It is essential that we work with digital services like YouTube—the most popular digital platform for music discovery—to fix the challenge of incomplete ownership information to ensure royalties are no longer unmatched and music owners are paid accurately by the platforms that rely on their work.”
For its part, YouTube pledged to work closely with NMPA. The Google-owned company’s Tamara Hrivnak emphasized that it is “committed to making sure that publishers are paid for the usage of their works on our platform.”
Publishers will be allowed to opt out of the deal. Those that choose to take part will have three months to claim their music through the system and gain access to royalties that previously went unclaimed.
The settlement caps a year in which music-royalty issues bubbled to the surface in myriad ways.
In March, for example, the Recording Industry Association of America noted that in 2015, more royalties were made on the sale of vinyl records than through ad-supported streaming services, a data point that was used as ammo when a number of pop stars made a push for updates to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Also in March, Spotify reached an agreement with NMPA that has much in common with the new YouTube deal.
On the other side of the equation, the Open Music Initiative, an effort led by the Berklee College of Music, has worked to bridge the divide between the industry and the tech companies that distribute music.