The battle between independent labels and YouTube over unfavourable royalty terms offered for a proposed streaming music service is escalating. Google-owned YouTube has reportedly refused to withdraw threats to labels unwilling to sign the agreement which global independent trade group WIN has called “highly unfavourable terms." In response, EU labels are turning to the European Commission (EC) today for "emergency relief".
IMPALA, the European independent music association, is spearheading the EC appeal. Their complaint will include a request for urgent intervention to stop YouTube from carrying out any blocking measures or issuing new threats. "Regulatory action is seen as an essential safeguard against abusive conduct and to promote real competition and diversity in the digital music market," Impala and WIN said in a joint statement prior to a press conference Wednesday.
Musicians Support Campaign
The Featured Artists Coalition, representing many musicians has also joined in calling for measures to stop YouTube from "abusing its market power" over independent music companies and artists. "YouTube are shooting themselves in the foot with their attempt to strong-arm independent labels into signing up to such low rates," according to musician Billy Bragg. "They're in danger of launching a streaming service that lacks the innovative and cutting edge sounds that independent artists bring. Would music fans be willing to pay for such an inferior product? I don’t think so.”
Google "Abuse(s) Its Market Dominance
“If there ever was a need for further evidence of Google’s willingness and ability to abuse its market dominance, this is a particularly blatant and despicable case," Mark Chung, a board member of German independent music trade association Verband unabhängiger Musikunternehmen (VUT) added. "Coming from a corporation whose armies of lobbyists, PR agents and paid bloggers tirelessly spin their corporate interests as supporting “free speech” and opposing “censorship”, the removal of legal music videos with the objective of extending the corporation’s dominance to a further young, fledgling market is beyond cynical."