We reported earlier this month that YouTube was threatening to severely curtail the visibility of independent music publishers, and artists, who declined to sign the T&C's needed to participate in YouTube's new streaming music service. Now, it appears that the site is carrying out that threat, as reports confirm that the Google-owned video site will drop music content from indie artists who haven't signed up. And we're not talking obscure little bands here, but global megastar acts like as Adele, Radiohead, and Jack White; musicians for whom YouTube has been a major promotional tool.
YouTube's new music venture will allow subscribers to watch videos ad-free, as well as enable them to download music to mobile devices. YouTube's Head of Content and Business Operations, Robert Kyncl, confirmed that the site will block videos from labels that do not sign exclusive licensing agreements for the new paid service (rumored to be called 'YouTube Music Pass'). Music is one of the most popular verticals on YouTube, and is a major draw for many of the site's 1 billion monthly global visitors.
According to an interview with The Financial Times, Kyncl stated that publishing labels, representing 90% of the music industry, have already signed up to YouTube's new T&C's, but the other 10% will be blocked from the platform. Kyncl went on to say:
While we wish that we had 100% success rate, we understand that is not likely an achievable goal and therefore it is our responsibility to our users and the industry to launch the enhanced music experience.
While three big-name music labels – Warner, Sony and Universal – have already agreed to YouTube's TOS, YouTube's actions have already prompted some indie labels to appeal to the European Commission for assistance. It remains to be seen whether the site can really compete with the likes of Spotify, and Pandora, or if the new venture will be a flop with users.