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Label News (more headlines) 05-24-2014

YouTube Issues Content Blocking Threats To Independent Labels

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The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the organisation that represents the interests of the global independent music community has responded to news that YouTube intends to block the content of members who do not sign a new music streaming agreement describing it as 'unnecessary and indefensible'

WIN was formed in 2006 to represent the global independent industry, which boasts the second largest global market share after Universal.

As reported by several news sources:
(http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2014/04/YouTube-music-subscription-music-service-to-launch-this-summer-report-.html) YouTube is expected to launch a new music streaming service. The service has apparently negotiated separate agreements with the three major labels – Sony, Warner and Universal – but according to WIN's trade association colleagues has yet to reach any substantive agreement with their members.

At a time when independent music companies are increasing their global market share WIN has raised major concerns about YouTube's recent policy of approaching independent labels directly with a template contract and an explicit threat that their content will be blocked on the platform if it is not signed.

According to WIN members, the contracts currently on offer to independent labels from YouTube are on highly unfavourable, and non-negotiable terms, and undervalue existing rates in the marketplace from existing music streaming partners such as Spotify, Rdio, Deezer and others.

WIN has held extensive talks with YouTube at their instigation over the last 24 hours to try and resolve this issue but no progress has been made. WIN's request for YouTube to rescind the termination letters sent to its members has not as yet been agreed to.

Alison Wenham, CEO of WIN and Chairman of AIM (Association of Independent Music, UK) said, "Our members are small businesses who rely on a variety of income streams to invest in new talent. They are being told by one of the largest companies in the world to accept terms that are out of step with the marketplace for streaming. This is not a fair way to do business. WIN questions any actions by any organization that would seek to injure and punish innocent labels and musicians - and their innocent fans- in order to pursue its ambitions. We believe, as such, that these actions are unnecessary and indefensible, not to mention commercially questionable and potentially damaging to YouTube itself, given the harm likely to result from this approach. The international independent music trade associations call upon YouTube on behalf of their members to work with them towards an agreement that is fair and equitable for all independent labels. This has uncomfortable echoes of similar behaviour by MTV ten years ago, who chose initially to take a similar approach in undervaluing the independent sector, but who subsequently concluded a deal on fair terms, which lasts to this day. It is for every company to determine their own commercial arrangements, but it is in no one's interests to see independent artists being undervalued in the digital marketplace."

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