Google Tells Zoe Keating: Sign Music Key Deal or We’ll Block Your YouTube Channel

zoe keatingGoogle has cut deals with the major labels and most independents to launch YouTube Music Key, a paid music and video subscription service. But truly indie artists like Zoe Keating are now being forced to sign a new Google deal as-is or be pulled off YouTube entirely.

"They were nice and took time to explain everything clearly to me," Keating wrote on her blog. "but the message was firm…. I need to sign on to the new Youtube music services agreement or I will have my Youtube channel blocked."

Zoe Keating has built a successful career outside the traditional music business – no label, no manager, and until fairly recently, no booking agent.  But that hasn't meant that she's immune to rules set by industry gatekeepers. Wonderfully, Keating has chosen to share her journey; even posting statements that include exactly what income she does and does not make from distributing her music online.

She's now sharing her latest YouTube dealings with the same openness. The new YouTube agreement covers not just posting videos, but also mandatory participation in You Tube Music Key; and portions of the deal concern Keating:

image from i.guim.co.uk1) "All of my catalog must be included in both the free and premium music service. Even if I don’t deliver all my music, because I’m a music partner, anything that a 3rd party uploads with my info in the description will be automatically included in the music service too."

2) "All songs will be set to “montetize”, meaning there will be ads on them."

3) "I will be required to release new music on Youtube at the same time I release it anywhere else. So no more releasing to my core fans first on Bandcamp and then on iTunes."

4) "All my catalog must be uploaded at high resolution, according to Google’s standard which is currently 320 kbps."

5) "The contract lasts for 5 years."

"I can’t think of another streaming service that makes such demands," says Keating" "And if I don’t sign? My Youtube channel will be blocked and I will no longer be able to monetize (how I hate that word) 3rd party videos through Content ID." 

For Keating, and many other independent artists, 3rd parties using their music on YouTube is a signifigant source of income and promotion. Keating counts 9,696 videos using her music on YouTube and last month those videos had 250,000 views. "The Content ID robot sucks up more videos every day." Google's agreement prevents Keating from sharing how much she earns from those videos, but all would presumably be blocked if Keating doesn't sign the new deal.

"Is such control too much for an artist to ask for in 2015?," asks Keating. 

"It’s one thing for individuals to upload all my music for free listening (it doesn’t bother me),: she wrote. "It’s another thing entirely for a major corporation to force me to. I was encouraged to participate and now, after I’m invested, I’m being pressured into something I don’t want to do.

Take the time to read her full post here


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  1. Imagine that, Google strong arming artists, “All your music, or else!” This is the brave new world of the internet, where large companies hold the little guy, or their work, hostage, unless they play by the big company’s rules. We must obey our corporate overlords…

  2. And it gets worse!
    In best North Korean style, Google now tries to force Digital Music News to change this headline:
    See the mails from Google here:
    And here’s the hilarious part:
    The Guardian, BBC and other major news sites already printed similar headlines last summer.

  3. If anyone wants to tell Google what they think about harrassing Zoe Keating, they can write to Google’s Matt McLernon.
    He’s also the guy who now demands that Digital Music News and Forbes delete “patently false” headlines (that are directly based on information from YouTube’s own head of content and business operations, Robert Kyncl).
    Here is Matt McLernon’s mail address:

  4. The agreement suggests that if Zoe chose to release her music first or exclusively elsewhere (for example, Bandcamp), she would be in violation of here YouTube deal.

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