No music industry story has gotten more play in the last week than Zoe Keating's struggle with YouTube. After the independent musician shared her conversation with YouTube over a new agreement that would keep her from monetizing her content if she did not agree to new terms that included involvement in YouTube's Music Key paid service, a compant spokesperson called Keating's concerns "patently false."
Patently, as Keating points out means "clear and without doubt". "Either someone is not telling the truth or the very nice rep I have been negotiating with, for a year, is patently unclear," Keating wrote on her blog. "There seems to be very little clarity and a lot of doubt on this topic."
To help get some answers, Keating has published a full transcript of her conversation with a YouTube rep:
YOUTUBE:We can’t have music available in the free but not in the paid version. So we need to have catalog parity between the services because essentially it’s just one service, it’s just that there are features that are added on for our music key subscribers. So I think where we got stuck was that there’s a catalog commitment language in the agreement that I think your legal team wasn’t comfortable signing with that language in there
So unfortunately we’re kind of at a period where because we have to launch the product fully at this point any music content has to be licensed under this new agreement otherwise we basically don’t have the proper licenses to keep that content up on youtube
KEATING: Right. So can you tell me how the music service is related to content ID?
YOUTUBE: So the content ID part is not really affected so all of that part will remain exactly the same the difference that is added to the contract is that the music rate went up so the party who has rights to the music gets 40% so there’s a benefit there. And then the other part is that to the extent that you make the content available on any other streaming services we ask that you make that available on youtube as well.
KEATING: So do I opt into the music service agreement in addition to the content ID?
YOUTUBE: No, so all of that is opted in. So what happens basically is that on this service, the assets that you provide to us, that are licensed on Youtube through you are all available for the music features because you’re a music partner. So even if you don’t explicitly deliver us every single song in your catalog if we have assets and they are fingerprinted by content ID to contain that music then it will be included to the subscription service and you’ll be earning subscription revenue in addition to the existing ad revenue
It helps to think about it on our service because it is in a way already, like a streaming service right? like if i wanted to listen to your music but you didn’t upload an official music video but someone else uploaded a version of it or like a performance of it that you are claiming, that content is licensed under the same music agreement.
The really unique thing about our platform and kind of the benefits of it is that we get users of all sorts of demographics that come to youtube to consume this content in various ways. some people are looking for a video clip to watch the visuals that it contains but there are also heavy music users that come to youtube to specifically listen to music and they don’t really care about the visuals.
KEATING: if i wanted to just let content ID keep doing it’s thing, and it does a great job at and i’m totally happy with it and i don’t want to participate in the music service, is that an option?
YOUTUBE: That’s unfortunately not an option.
KEATING: Assuming i don’t want to, then what would occur?
YOUTUBE: So what would happen is, um, so in the worst case scenario, because we do understand there are cases where our partners don’t want to participate for various reasons, what we basically have to do is because the music terms are essentially like outdated, the content that you directly upload from accounts that you own under the content owner attached to the agreement, we’ll have to block that content. but anything that comes up that we’re able to scan and match through content ID we could just apply a track policy but the commercial terms no longer apply so there’s not going to be any revenue generated.
KEATING: Wow that’s pretty harsh.
YOUTUBE: Yeah, it’s harsh and trust me, it is really difficult for me to have this conversation with all of my partners but we’re really, what we’re trying to do is basically create a new revenue stream on top of what exists on the platform today.
The way to think about this streaming service is that, i mean, this content is already available on the platform in one way or another and you’re doing the smart thing by claiming everything so in some ways there’s not that much changing on that end it’s just that features are being added to the content that’s already available and how it can be consumed.
So the other thing i want to lay out, and I want to lay out all the options for you., this is kind of like a loophole in our system where like, you know if you’re not so concerned about revenue and its not driving millions of dollars for you then what you can do is essentially um, end the commercial terms, the sound recording audiovisual agreement that you have with us, which is outdated and I actually have to close this out before we can move forward with our product, so this kind of a last call. But what you could do is basically unlink your channel from the content owner that is associated with the deal, so that when the deal terminates on that content owner, your channel will be separated from the deal and you can enter into a regular youtube partner commercial terms which allows you to monetize the content. The content owner account will no longer have commercial terms but it will have the content ID agreement terms which means you can continue to track\
As Keating wrote, "Please, tell me what you think it means."